Intermarriage During the Holocaust: Jewish and Romani “Mixed” Families in Nazi Europe
August 9–18, 2023
The application deadline for this program has passed.
The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum invites applications for a research workshop entitled Intermarriage during the Holocaust: Jewish and Romani “Mixed” Families in Nazi Europe. The Mandel Center will co-convene this workshop with Benjamin Frommer, Department of History, Northwestern University, Michaela Raggam-Blesch, Institute for Contemporary History, University of Vienna, and Tatjana Lichtenstein, Department of History, University of Texas, Austin. The workshop is scheduled for August 9–18, 2023, and will take place at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
At the infamous Wannsee Conference eighty years ago, no topic consumed more time than the heatedly debated question of the fate of intermarried Jews and so-called Mischlinge in the “Final Solution.” Jews who had non-Jewish spouses, and especially their “mixed” offspring, fundamentally challenged the Nazis’ Manichean worldview and complicated the Third Reich’s genocidal program. Nazi ideologues also considered Romani Mischlinge to be a danger to the Volksgemeinschaft because their supposedly inherited criminality threatened to compromise the 'racial purity' of the German people.
From the start of Nazi rule, familial ties to non-Jews offered the intermarried avenues to lessen the social isolation and material deprivation produced by the ever-tightening vise of persecution. Nonetheless, intermarried families faced a particularly anguished decision that homogamous couples did not: whether to divorce in the hope that property and children could be better protected by the “Aryan” partner.
Across Europe the policies enacted against intermarried families varied greatly. For both intermarried Jews and Roma, connections to the majority population determined how the war was experienced, including when and even whether they faced transport to enclosed ghettos, concentration camps, and killing centers. Among Jews, the intermarried were not only more likely to survive, but were far more certain after the war to find living family members, including their spouses, who helped facilitate reintegration and restitution.
In the postwar era, film and television scriptwriters have disproportionately featured “mixed” families in their portrayals of the Holocaust in a likely effort to foster empathy among non-Jews. By contrast, for decades after the war scholars generally treated the fate of the intermarried as marginal. In recent years historians have more intensely studied the experience of “mixed” families and policies enacted against them (particularly in the core Reich and Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia), but the subject still remains largely undeveloped and unintegrated into the paradigmatic narrative of the Holocaust.
This workshop focuses on intermarried Jews and Roma/Sinti, their spouses, and their “mixed” offspring across Europe during the Nazi era. Our goal is to stimulate a comparative, integrated, and interdisciplinary discussion which brings scholars of the Jewish and Romani experience and experts in different geographical areas and methodological approaches into conversation with one another.
Daily sessions of the workshop will consist of presentations and roundtable discussions led by participants, as well as discussions with Museum staff, and research in the Museum’s collections. The workshop will be conducted in English.
The Museum's David M. Rubinstein National Institute for Holocaust Documentation houses an unparalleled repository of Holocaust evidence that documents the fate of victims, survivors, rescuers, liberators, and others. The Museum’s comprehensive collection contains millions of documents, artifacts, photos, films, books, and testimonies. The Museum’s Database of Holocaust Survivor and Victim Names contains records on people persecuted during World War II under the Nazi regime, including Jews and Roma and Sinti. In addition, the Museum possesses the holdings of the International Tracing Service (ITS), which contains more than 200 million digitized pages with information on the fates of 17.5 million people who were subject to incarceration, forced labor, and displacement as a result of World War II. Many of these records have not been examined by scholars, offering unprecedented opportunities to advance the field of Holocaust and genocide studies.
The Museum’s related collections include:
- Records of Jewish communities across Europe, including from Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Low Countries, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union (including the Baltics), and Yugoslavia
- Oral histories of survivors from mixed families
- Photos of intermarried families
- Numerous small and mid-size personal collections of letters, memoirs, photos and personal documents, oral history interviews, and artifacts reflecting the experiences of Jews and Roma and Sinti from mixed families, such as the Cahn-Gödelmann Family Papers (Germany), the Leopoldine Staud Muliar Divorce Documents (France), the Rita G, Kaplan Papers (Germany), the Margaretha Rosenfeld Papers (Germany), the Ruth Miller Papers (Germany), the Lothar Kahn Papers (Germany), the Margaret Hartman Papers (Germany), the Kurt Gutfreund Papers (Austria), the Augusta Treulich Wrchovszká and Alexander Wrchovszky Papers (Czechoslovakia), the Peter O. Vlčko Papers (Czechoslovakia), among many others
- Records relating to Theresienstadt, Sereď, and other sites of internment of individuals from “mixed” families, including photos of racial investigations conducted in pre-war Zigeunerlager
- Records of various refugee and immigrant aid organizations, such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the American Friends Services Committee, and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration
- Records of various German departments, ministries, institutes, and military and police units, including the Reich Security Main Office, the Reich Department of Health, the Reich Justice Ministry, and the Institute for German Work in the East
- Records documenting restrictions on Mischlinge in occupied and Axis countries, including Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, and Romania, among others
- Photos and other records of racial investigations of Roma and Sinti conducted in Austria, Germany, and Poland
- Records from war crimes trials, such as the Adolf Eichmann Trial Collection and other national trials
Participants will have access to both the Museum’s downtown campus and the David and Fela Shapell Family Collections, Conservation and Research Center. To search the Museum’s collections, please visit the collections catalog.
Applications are welcome from scholars affiliated with universities, research institutions, or memorial sites and in any relevant academic discipline, including anthropology, art history, economics, genocide studies, geography, history, Jewish studies, law, literature, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology, religion, and Romani studies, and others. Applications are encouraged from scholars at all levels of their careers, from Ph.D. candidates to senior faculty.
The Mandel Center will reimburse the costs of round-trip economy-class air tickets to/from the Washington, D.C. metro area, and related incidental expenses, up to a maximum reimbursable amount calculated by home institution location, which will be distributed within 6–8 weeks of the workshop’s conclusion. The Mandel Center will also provide hotel accommodation for the duration of the workshop. Participants are required to attend the full duration of the workshop.
The deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, February 10, 2023. Applications must include a short biography (one paragraph), a CV, and an abstract of no more than 300 words about the specific project (to be presented at the workshop) and plans for research at the Museum.