PhD Candidate, School of Art and Humanities, Nottingham Trent University

Thesis title: A Disaster in Lübeck Bay: The Cap Arcona, Concentration Camp Inmates and the RAF, 1944-45.

Daniel is a PhD student in the School of Art and Humanities. Daniel's thesis is entitled A Disaster in Lübeck Bay: The Cap Arcona, Concentration Camp Inmates and the RAF, 1944-45. This project looks to provide the first comprehensive account to survey the Cap Arcona disaster by using a wider range of source material from both German Archives and archives located in the UK. The history of the Cap Arcona can be symbolised into the wider picture of the final months of Hitler's Third Reich.

The collapsing command structure entwined with localised decision making in the district of Hamburg spurred the decision to evacuate Neuengamme concentration camp. These so-called evacuations led to the untimely death of many thousands of KZ-prisoners. In the wider context the Cap Arcona and its history will be used as a case study to demonstrate the problems associated with Nazism and any developments over the course of the Second World War. In brief, the timeline for this project will explore the history of the Cap Arcona from its creation in 1927 through to its sinking on 3 May 1945.

The topic of the Cap Arcona does not simply start and end with the sinking of a passenger liner. In fact the topic must explore the wider aspects of this disaster in relation the final months of the Second World War. The issues arising are formed around reasons as to why the camps needed to be evacuated in April 1945. And why the British suddenly turned to attacking shipping in the final days of the Second World War.

Much of the work will be based upon surviving records located in various archives, including The National Archives, Bundesarchiv, Cap Arcona Museum and Neuengamme Memorial Museum. In support of material located within these archives, published survivor testimony will be extrapolated to provide another dimension in providing crucial answers to this under-studied topic. As this project is looking to address this history from both a British and German viewpoint it is imperative to understand the wider implications on both sides. For the Germans the horrors and cruelties which took place need to be understood in terms of the politics of the Third Reich and the structure which Hitler's Reich undertook. In terms of control, it is important to look at the social breakdown of communication in the final months of the war and its wider impact on the local governance of the city of Hamburg. For the British their push into the heartland of Germany was met with the wider issue of the Soviet Army rapidly advancing West, and here we begin to see early Cold War tensions. Therefore what effect did this have on overall British policy in the final months?

Daniel's research interests are in investigating events relating to Holocaust and genocide studies in the final months of the Second World War. At a more local level, Daniel continues to research areas relating to Neuengamme concentration camp and would like to undertake a future project to investigate the Death Marches from this camp.

Daniel also recently attended his first European Conference in Kiel, where he presented a research paper on The Sinking of the Cap Arcona: An analysis of the final months of WWII.

Director of studies

Professor Bill Niven

Research Groups / Centres and projects

History and Heritage, Centre for Museum and Heritage Management

Publications

Tagung: Erinnern, Erklären und Deuten. Zivile und militärische Erinnerungskulturen des 21. Jahrhunderts Laboe & Kiel, May 2014: The Sinking of the Cap Arcona: An analysis of British attitudes and responsibility to the final months of WWII (Paper Presented)
GHIL Conference 2014: A Disaster in Luebeck Bay: The Cap Arcona, Concentration Camp Inmates and the RAF, 1944-45 (Paper Presented)
NTU Postgraduate Conference 2014: "Queen of the South Atlantic": The Cap Arcona, rise of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront and its impact on class structure through the use of state-organised leisure, 1933-1939. (Paper Presented)
NTU Postgraduate Conference 2013: Marching to what end? An overview of Neuengamme Concentration Camp and the subsequent "Death Marches", April 1945 (Paper Presented)
German Histories in the North Workshop, Sheffield Hallam 2012: Who was responsible for ordering the Prisoners onto the Ships? (Paper Presented)

Experience

  • –present
    PhD Candidate, School of Art and Humanities, Nottingham Trent University