CFP (Conference): Local Administrations and the Holocaust: Occupation, Collaboration, and Resistance, 10-12 January 2024, Berlin (Deadline 31 May 2023)
Local Administrations and the Holocaust: Occupation, Collaboration, and Resistance
Local administrations played an important role in the persecution and murder of European Jews in occupied, allied, and sovereign countries. They helped the Nazis to ghettoize and to mark the Jews, to take over their property, to collect taxes, and to organize mass shootings and deportations to the extermination camps. Without the help of numerous officials in the communal, district and county administrations, the Nazis would not have been able to murder 6 million Jews, while fighting against the Soviet Union, occupying countries in Western and Eastern Europe, and struggling with the resistance movements. The role of local administrations in the implementation of the Holocaust was significant.
While some officials of the local administrations collaborated with the Nazis because of their political convictions, others were motivated by economic reasons or simply following the orders of their superiors. Antisemitism played a crucial role in the administrative collaboration in the Holocaust but it was not the only reason. While the administrations of villages and towns were composed of only a few employees, European metropolises such as Budapest, Paris and Warsaw employed several thousand communal officials and workers. Although many employees of local administrations, including village heads, mayors, firemen, and tax collectors, assisted the Germans in persecuting, exploiting or murdering the Jews, some local officials resisted the antisemitic policies and helped the Jews with or without the approval of their superiors.
This conference aims to bring together scholars who study specific aspects of the local administration in the Holocaust. Comparing the conduct of local administrators during the Holocaust in various European countries, the conference intends to determine whether we can speak of a transnational dimension of the local administration in the Shoah. The organizer is interested in papers, concentrating on the following questions:
- How did local officials coordinate their actions with the German occupiers? Did some officials resign from the administration because of the German occupation or new policies towards Jews? Did the Nazis purge the local administrations of socialist or potentially unreliable officials and replace them with more loyal ones?
- Did the Germans rearrange the structure of the local administrations in the occupied or allied countries? What kind of new offices did the Nazis create within the old institutions to control the local administrations? How did the local administrations in allied countries such as Hungary, Romania, Italy, and Norway treat the Jews?
- What groups of civil servants were especially important to the rulers for the persecution, exploitation, and murder of the Jews? When did the Nazis rely on indigenous fascists to control local administrations and when did they collaborate with more moderate communal politicians?
- Why did local administrators collaborate with the new rulers? Did they approve of some aspects of the new policies or did they share some values with the German occupiers? Did collaboration in the Holocaust help communal officials to maintain self-governance and the ability to protect the interests of Christian communities?
- To what extent was a local administration operating under duress or independently of German coercion? What potential consequences did a given local administration face for failure to comply with German demands or expectations? What was its room for maneuver?
- How important was antisemitism to collaboration with the Nazis? Did local administrations profit from the exploitation of Jews and, if so, was the economic profit a significant motive?
- Did mayors or other communal officials help the Nazis to establish ghettos or segregate Jews from the Christian population in other ways? Did local administrators have the power to decide the location of a ghetto within a city? Did the Nazis need their help to build ghettos, Judenhäuser or special camps?
- How did local administrations assist the Germans in mass shootings and deportations of Jews? What sort of local officials and functionaries took an active part in the murder and deportations of Jews? What were the actual tasks and responsibilities of local administrators in the murder of Jews?
- How important was the presence of Nazis for the persecution and murder of Jews? Why did local officials in places without any German officials persecute and kill Jews? Did the initiative to persecute, murder or deport the Jews come from local administrators? Can we point to cases in which the Holocaust took place without the significant involvement of a local collaborating administration?
- In what way could local administrations help Jews? Could they provide Jews or other persecuted groups with Christian papers or help them find an apartment or a hiding place? How widespread was help for Jews among local administrators, what forms of help emerged and why did some communal officials choose to help and others not?
Concept and organization:
Dr. Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (FU Berlin)
Conference language: English
Please submit your proposal (500 words maximum) along with a brief biographical note by 31 May 2023 to Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (firstname.lastname@example.org). The conference will take place at the Freie Universität Berlin from 10 to 12 January 2024.