“Entangled City: World War II and the Holocaust in Zhytomyr”
Tobias Wals is currently PhD candidate at the Center for Holocaust Studies at the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History in Munich (Germany). His research deals with the impact of World War II and the Holocaust on the Ukrainian city of Zhytomyr. He received his MA in Slavic and East European Studies from the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and previously worked as a research assistant at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Netherlands), for a project on the German occupation of Kyiv in 1941/43.
Wals’ research reflects extensive work in 20th-century Ukrainian history and memory, both in academia and journalism. His articles have been published in several Dutch and German media outlets such as NRC Handelsblad, De Groene Amsterdammer, and Ukraine Verstehen. He is fluent in Dutch, German, English, Russian and Ukrainian, and has translated two novels from Ukrainian into Dutch. So far, he has presented his PhD research at three seminars and received a research grant from the German-Ukrainian Historians’ Commission to visit archives in Zhytomyr and Kyiv.
Wals was awarded a 2021-2022 IfZ-Munich and MCAHS Exchange Scholarship for his PhD research entitled, “Entangled City: World War II and the Holocaust in Zhytomyr”. His project revolves around the experiences of Zhytomyr’s inhabitants and the transformation of Soviet society in the face of repression and violence. It integrates a wide range of local perspectives and applies a broad timeframe, spanning both the occupation and the early postwar period. During his fellowship, Wals will focus on the plight of Jewish citizens from Zhytomyr, particularly of those who returned to the city from the Red Army and the Soviet hinterland. He argues the moment of return is crucial to understand their experience of the war.