Katharina Friedla

Katharina Friedla holds a Ph.D. from the Department of History, Institute of Eastern European and Jewish History, University of Basel, Switzerland.

In recent years she has been working as researcher, translator and scientific advisor for many institutions in Germany, Poland and Israel. Recipient of several scholarships and grants, among others: at the Leo Baeck Institute and the YIVO Institute New York; Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies; Rothschild Foundation and Gerda Henkel Foundation. Before coming to Polish Institute of Advanced Studies she completed a three-year postdoc at the International Institute for Holocaust Research Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

She has published several books and articles on Jews in Germany, Poland and USSR before, during and in the aftermath of the Second World War (including the monograph „Juden in Breslau/Wroclaw: Überlebensstrategien, Selbstbehauptung und Verfolgungserfahrung“, Böhlau 2015).

Research project: „Topography, Experience, and Memory of Life in Transition: Polish Jews in the Soviet Union (1939–1959)“

The majority of the 230,000 Polish Jews survived because they had been „deported to life“ from parts of Poland that came under Soviet control after the Nazi-Soviet Packt. They were first sent to forced labour camps in Siberia and then, after the German invasion in June 1941, in Central Asia. Stalin’s Soviet Union provided a crucial if harsh refuge for at least three quarters of all Polish Jews who survived the war.

The aim of this research project is the presentation and historical classification of these to date largely under-researched events and experiences of Polish Jews in the Soviet Union during the World War II. They ought to be integrated in the general understanding of the Holocaust, but as well as a part of Polish, Soviet and European history and the transnational history of forced migration.

With the help of extensive sources, this research project will uncover new context and offer a new perspective, which include not only the experiences and stories of Jewish expatriates and deportees in the Soviet Union, but also deals with additional questions like: gender, consequences of political affiliations, inter-religious encounters between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, or relationships between Polish and Polish-Jewish deportees.

Last but not least her aim is to analyze the transformation or the lack of collective and individual memory of Soviet exile. Her research will explain how this knowledge was transformed under changing political and social circumstances.

Dates of stay: 01 October 2018 - 31 July 2019