How should we write a history of the prisoner society? Anna Hájková’s New History of the Theresienstadt Ghetto
Join us for a presentation about Anna Hájková’s new book, titled The Last Ghetto: A New History of the Theresiendtadt Ghetto. Hájková has worked with several collections of oral histories collected across seventy years, and in conversation with Alexandra Garbarini, will offer reflections on how can we read these to write an empathetic, analytical history of the everyday in extremis.
Terezín, as it was known in Czech, or Theresienstadt, as it was known in German, was operated by the Nazis between November 1941 and May 1945 as a transit ghetto for Central and Western European Jews before their deportation for murder in the East. Today, Theresienstadt is best known for the Nazi propaganda of the International Red Cross visit, cultural life, and children. But these aspects explain little about what defined the lives of its 140,000 inmates.
The Last Ghetto offers both a modern history of this Central European ghetto and the first in-depth analytical history of a prison society during the Holocaust. Based on research from 99 archives, ten countries, and nine languages, the book brings into conversation early and late sources, documents produced by the Jewish-self administration, drawings, victims’ diaries, and recorded oral histories.
Dr. Anna Hájková is associate professor of history at the University of Warwick, UK. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto that was awarded both the Herbert Steiner as well as Irma Rosenberg prizes, and on which The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt (OUP 2020) is based. She is currently working on two projects, a book on queer Holocaust history, and a study of Central European Communists. She has also edited the “Sexuality, Holocaust, Stigma” special issue of German History (March, 2021).
Dr. Alexandra Garbarini is professor of History and Jewish Studies at Williams College. Garbarini focuses on the history of twentieth-century Europe and European Jewish history, especially the era of the two world wars. She is particularly drawn to the study of the history of the Holocaust, genocide, and mass violence; testimony, diaries and letters; and the history of historiography. She is the author of Numbered Days: Diary Writing and the Holocaust (Yale University Press, 2006), and co-author of Jewish Responses to Persecution, volume 2, 1939-1940 (Rowman & Littlefield, in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2011).