Thesis title: Memory of the Kindertransport in National and Transnational Perspective.
My thesis seeks to present the first comprehensive examination of the different national and transnational memories of the Kindertransport. In the following, I understand 'Kindertransport' here as referring not just to the actual rescue of Jewish children from Nazism (1938-1940), but also its effects, i.e. transplantation to a new and strange environment, with all the ensuing complications of adaptation and integration.
There is yet to be a true comparison of how the host nations – Britain, America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – received the Kindertransportees and integrated them, and of how the memories of the transportees and the nations' memories of the Kindertransport developed. A comparison of these various host countries will reveal that memory of the Kindertransport was not uniform, but shaped by national factors such as the role of these countries in the war, their post-war political, economic and social development, social and cultural policies towards refugees, and nationally conditioned memory discourses.
However, no memory is entirely nationally bounded. Increasingly, Holocaust memory operates in a transnational, even global network (Levy and Sznaider, 2006); the specific interaction of such global memory with national memory patterns in the case of the Kindertransport will also be examined. Moreover, the working hypothesis of this PhD project will also disclose that there was not ONE memory of the Kindertransport, but several, nationally conditioned memory discourses.
My previous research has focussed on British memory of the Kindertransport, revealing that interest in this event emerged late (1980s). British historiography, the Kindertransportees' accounts and museum exhibitions were studied to reveal how the memory of the Kindertransport is represented in Britain. Also I have recently studied the fictionalisation of the Kindertransport and here I discovered that a more unconventional narrative was disclosed to the reader.
The final chapter of my MA dissertation considered the link between how British, American, German and Swedish authors represented the Kindertransport to Britain and whether they brought their own national perspectives to the table. However, this PhD project aims to branch out from specifically focussing on the British narrative of the Kindertransport to reveal the stories of the Kindertransport in other host nations which are not as explored or recognised as the British story of this event.
I was awarded the Culture Engagement Award (2017) by the AHRC’s Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership at the M4C Research Festival for my work during my placement at the National Holocaust Centre and Museum.