AJS 2021 in Chicago: Seeking participants for session on Jewish women's power/influence during the Holocaust within the role of secretaries, auxiliaries, "support" staff

Abby Gondek's picture

AJS December 19–21, 2021 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago 

Proposed lightning session or seminar - seeking collaborators and participants

Topic: Jewish women's power/influence as secretaries, auxiliaries, "support" staff during the Holocaust: 

I would like to put together either a lightning session or a seminar in order to include the maximum number of participants (7-8 max). I welcome those who are graduate students, recently completed PhD and early career scholars, as well as more experienced scholars.  I am looking for others who might be interested in coordinating/organizing a session like this with me and also those interested in participating (contributing a paper). At this point, the idea is very open, so please feel free to e-mail me at abbygondek@outlook.com  if you are interested but if you aren’t sure that your paper idea fits or if you have related ideas or suggestions and you would like to collaborate. 

My particular research examines the roles of secretaries within the Treasury department and War Refugee Board, and I am looking for others who examine women's roles (especially Jewish women) in these types of positions, within government or in rescue and resistance organizations. 

My own focus is on the American government's response(s) to the Holocaust but I am hoping to connect with those who conduct research about a wide range of national contexts and about different kinds of organizational structures including government, and non-government organizations like Jewish relief/rescue organizations, informal resistance groups, leadership within ghettos/camps, etc. (building on the work of Judith Tydor Baumel). 

Since there seems to be a solid literature on Nazi secretaries (Rachel Century, Elisabeth Krimmer, Valerie Cabezas-Iacono), it would also be interesting to compare the roles that women in secretary and auxiliary roles within the Nazi government played to the roles of Jewish women within other governments and non-governmental organizations. 

The central questions are: What kinds of power did women in these "supportive" roles have to affect policy and decision-making? How did they access this power? What role did sexuality and relationships with supervisors play in their access to power? Also, what were relationships between women in these types of positions like? Did women in these supportive roles collaborate with each other, did they get along? Are there documented relationships between women (same-sex relationships)? 

This session relates to the following divisions: Gender and Sexuality Studies, Holocaust Studies, Jewish Politics, Modern Jewish History in Europe, Asia, Israel, and Other Communities, Modern Jewish History in the Americas.

By March 15, please contact me with your initial ideas and to let me know if you are interested in collaborating or participating. Full abstracts will be due April 9, 2021 (350 words max) so that a session proposal can be created in time for the submission deadline which is April 29, 2021 at 5 pm EDT. You will need to renew your AJS membership in order to be included in the session proposal. You can send any questions and ideas/abstracts to abbygondek@outlook.com