Meet Atina Grossmann

June 3, 2015 by Suzanne Rutland
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Professor of History in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cooper Union in New York City Atina Grossmann is the Current Mandelbaum Visiting Scholar.

Professor Konrad Kwiet, Eva Fischl, Atina Grossmann and Suzanne Rutland

Professor Konrad Kwiet, Eva Fischl, Atina Grossmann and Suzanne Rutland

Her publications include Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920-1950 (1995), and co-edited volumes on Crimes of War: Guilt and Denial in the Twentieth Century (2002) and After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe (2009), as well as articles on gender and modernity in interwar Germany, history and memory in postwar Germany, and gender and human rights, as well as gender and the Holocaust.

One of her key areas of research is the experience of Jewish survivors after the Holocaust. Her research included in a detailed study of the Jewish DP camps, with a focus on Feldafing in the American zone. As part of this research, she studied of the significant contribution of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (the “Joint”, now known as the “JDC”) in assisting the survivors in the camps to re-establish their lives and their faith in humanity. Her findings were published in Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany (2007, German, Wallstein 2012), an outstanding publication which was awarded the George L. Mosse Prize of the American Historical Association and the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History from the Wiener Library, London.

Emerging from her work with DPs, her current research focuses on “Remapping Survival: Jewish Refugees and Lost Memories of Displacement, Trauma, and Rescue in Soviet Central Asia, Iran, and India,” as well as the intersections of family memoir and historical scholarship, as her own family escaped to India.

Atina is in Australia as a Mandelbaum Visiting Scholar and on Sunday night she gave a fascinating presentation on ‘Close Encounters in the DP Camps’, emerging from her research on Feldafing and the other DP camps in the US Zone of occupation. Given the key role of the JDC in survivor rehabilitation, the evening was chaired by Mrs Eva Fischl, herself a child survivor, who is president of the Australian branch of the JDC, very much an organization which is an unsung hero in the world of Jewish welfare, and which played a crucial role in assisting Australian Jewry to absorb survivors after the Holocaust.

Professor Grossman is also speaking at the Sydney Jewish Museum’s Wednesday lunchtime series on the flight, deportation, death and survival of Jewish Refugees in Soviet labour camps and Soviet Central Asia. She is a key international speaker at Limmud-Oz. On Saturday night she is part of the “Mezze Panel: A Taste of Jewish Ideas”, and on Sunday is speaking on “Germans, Jews and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Europe” and “Iran as a site of Relief and Rescue for European Jews 1933-1945: German-Jewish Refugees, Polish Jews in Transit, and the remarkable story of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Teheran”. She is highly recommended.

 

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