Fortunoff Fellows Present Research

By Stephen Naron - August 1, 2019

Postdoctoral associates Sari J. Siegel (Geoffrey H. Hartman Fellow) and Ion Popa (Fortunoff/VWI Joint Fellow) have worked with the Fortunoff Archive collection over the past year to further research in Holocaust Studies. In May, the fellows introduced their research to the wider academic community.

Siegel presented her research on the testimony of Esther F. (HVT-2033), a prisoner physician, at the Geoffrey H. Hartman Symposium. ( Esther was forced to practice medicine in the Lodz Ghetto, the Guben subcamp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp, and Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she was liberated. Through Esther's testimony and Siegel's wider research into prisoner-physicians in the ghetto and concentration camp systems in the Warthegau region of Poland, Siegel explored the conflicting policies of extermination of European Jewry and preservation of the forced labor work force.

Popa presented at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute, as well as at the Hartman symposium, on his research on Jews who converted to Christianity before and during the Holocaust. ( Using the testimony of Hans F. (HVT-170) as a starting point, he analyzes conversion as a tactic used by Jewish people to avoid persecution, whether it was voluntary conversion pre-war, or forced conversion by churches as a condition of hiding them. Popa focuses on attitudes of Jewish and Christian religious bodies towards these converts, the impact of conversion on their identities, and possible conversion back to Judaism.

Besides their presentations, both fellows will contribute to the Fortunoff Archive Critical Edition Series. Volumes in the series will include transcripts of the chosen testimonies with annotations by the fellows and an introductory essay.

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