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What is everyday life, and what does it consist of? And in what ways is everyday life affected by the life in extremis? These questions animate my work. My first book, The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt, which was awarded the Irma Rosenberg and Herbert Steiner Prizes, focused on the everyday history of the Holocaust, using the Terezín transit ghetto as a springboard to examine larger issues of human behavior under extreme stress. My work examines the society in the camps, Jewish social and political elites, issues of nationalism and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, and also the Jewish Councils. In this context, I have been working on the last Elder of the Jews of Terezín, Benjamin Murmelstein. Here you can read an essay of mine on Claude Lanzmann's documentary.
I am interested in how people in 20th century Central and Eastern Europe arranged their lives, both during the state of exception and after, transitioning to a new kind of everyday life. I am also interested in questions of how groups emerge and interact and what roles gender, ethnicity, and culture played in these processes. Whether I focus on the transnational kaleidoscope of Terezín or the Central European Communist mid-functionaries, I wish to connect critical analysis of long-term developments with close attention to details. It is my strong sense that when we look at everyday life against the grain, we find many examples that both complicate and enhance our understanding.
I have been researching sexuality and the Holocaust. Why were certain stories connected to sexuality of the Holocaust victims, such as people who engaged in same sex conduct, never told? My work explores the intersection of sexuality and violence in the Holocaust, and the erasure of certain sexualities from what has become the Holocaust canon. I examine the narrative erasure of lesbians and gays who were deported as Jews, homophobia of the victim society, sex barter, Jewish functionaries often marked as sexually deviant, mothers who abandonded their children, and also Jewish informers. In examining cases of what I term “transgressive sexuality,” I contribute to our understanding of gender and sexual violence, consent, normative behavior during the Holocaust, and the politics of Holocaust archives. This work is explicitly political, and so I present my work in English, German, and Czech media. If you are looking for a good primer into sexuality and Holocaust, check out this blog entry at OUP. Here you can find a bibliography on the topic. Currently, I am writing a trade book on a concentration camp guard Anneliese Kohlmann, who engaged in an enforced relationship with a woman prisoner. My work on queer Holocaust History has been awarded the Orpheus Iris Prize 2020.
Together with Andreas Kranebitter of the Austrian DÖW, we are working on a German translation of Michael Pollak's classical study of three women survivors in Auschwitz, L'Expérience Concentrationnaire. The book explores history of medicine, concentration camps, queer desire and sexuality, victims' agency, and habitus; it is an important early study of sociology exploring the world of the camps. Pollak, who was a student of Pierre Bourdieu, was a gay Austrian-French sociologist who died, aged 44, of AIDS.
My other next project, Dreamers of a New Day: Building Socialism in Central Europe, 1930-1970, is a long-durée study of a cohort of leftist intellectuals who built socialism in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and (East) Germany. I follow their lives from their university studies to the point of their politicization; to the war, and to their postwar quest to build a better, just society. I trace them further through their work in the Stalinist 1950s and into the next decade, culminating in their contribution to the notion of socialism with a human face. I am interested in two central questions: first, what is ideology and second, how is it lived.
I am interested in supervising postgraduate students working on the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, Jewish history, modern Europe, as well as on the history of genocides, history of gender and sexualities, and history of everyday life. I also welcome supervision in themes of history of socialism and communism.
I also tweet at @ankahajkova
My portrait above is by Václav Jirásek and you need my permission to use it.
- 2021- Co-director, Warwick Centre for Global Jewish Studies
- 2023- Reader of Modern Continental European History, University of Warwick
- September 2018-2023 Associate Professor of Modern Continental European History, University of Warwick
- Sept 2013-2018: Assistant Professor of Modern Continental European History, University of Warwick
2007-2013: PhD, Modern European History, University of Toronto
1998-2006: MA (Major in Modern History, Minor in English and Sociology), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
- HI31Z Reinterpreting the Holocaust: Sexualities, Ethnicity, Class (undergraduate final-year Special Subject)
- HI2H3 Out of the Ghetto: Jewish history of culture and life from 1650 to today (2nd year 30 CAT module)
- HI996 Themes & Approaches to the Historical Study of Gender & Sexuality (MA optional module in the spring term)
- HI153 Making of the Modern Wold
Membership and academic functions:
- Czech Society for Queer Memory (Společnost pro queer paměť), committee member
- Centre for the Study of the Holocaust and Jewish Literature, Charles University, associated member
Uta Rautenberg, "Homophobia in the Nazi Camps," (co-advising with Christoph Mick), 2015-2021
Leonie Bausch, "Gendered National Hierarchies: Sexual Encounters in the French Zone of Occupation in Post-War Germany,” M4C w Nottingham, 2021-23
Paula Medina Gonzales, "Queerness in the German Wehrmacht," 2021-
Menschen ohne Geschichte sind Staub: Homophobie und Holocaust (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2021).
The Last Ghetto: An Everyday History of Theresienstadt (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020); Czech translation Poslední ghetto: Všední život v Terezíně.
Čekám až se vrátíš: Rodinné deníky z války [I am Waiting For You to Come Back: Wartime Family Diaries], edition of two family diaries (Prague: Nakladatelství Lidové Noviny, 2018), English, Hebrew and German translations under consideration
Die letzten Berliner Veit Simons, with Maria von der Heydt (Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich 2019), German and English edition
The Amazing Life of Margot Heuman, co-written with Erika Hughes, who directed the play. Here you can read about the production in English, and here in German. Invite us, we are happy to show the play that exists as a digital recording!
- Co-editor with Doris Bergen and Andrea Löw, Alltag im Holocaust: Jüdisches Leben im Großdeutschen Reich 1941-1945 [The Everyday in the Holocaust: Jewish Life in Greater Germany, 1941-1945], series Schriftenreihe der Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2013)
- Co-editor with Jaroslava Milotová, Theresienstädter Studien und DokumenteLink opens in a new window, 2006 – 2009
Refereed Journal Articles
- "Speculations about German Jews: Elderly People from Germany in the Theresienstadt Ghetto." Yad Vashem Studies (2022), 55-84. (English and Hebrew, translation of Mutmaßungen über deutsche Juden, 2013)
- "Why we need a history of prostitution in the Holocaust." European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire 29.2 (2022): 194-222.
- "Sexuality in the Holocaust," The Routledge International Handbook to Gender in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia, edited by Katalin Fábián, Janet Elise Johnson, and Mara Lazda, (Abington: Routledge, 2021): 313-321.
- guest editor "Holocaust, Sexuality, Stigma," <German History>, 39,1 (March 2021).
- "Medicine in Theresienstadt", Social History of Medicine, published online 30 August 2018.
- ‘Holocaust and the History of Gender and Sexuality,’ Forum with Elissa Mailänder, Atina Grossmann, Doris Bergen, and Patrick Farges, German History 36,1, (February 2018): 78–100
- "What Kind of Narrative is Legal Testimony?: Terezín Survivors Speaking Before Czechoslovak, Austrian, and Western German Justice," in Rethinking Holocaust Justice: Essays Across Disciplines, ed. Norman Goda (New York: Berghahn, 2017): 71-99.
- with Maria von der Heydt, "Biedermeier Desk in Seattle: The Veit Simon Children, Class, and the Transnational in Holocaust History," in European Review of History, 2016
- "Women as citizens in the Theresienstadt prisoner community," Encyclopaedia of Mass Violence, June 27, 2016
- “Poor Devils of the Camps: Dutch Jews in the Terezín Ghetto, 1943-1945,” Yad Vashem Studies, 34,1 (2015): 77-111.
- "To Terezín and Back: Czech Jews and their Bonds of Belonging between Theresienstadt and Postwar Czechoslovakia," Dapim (1, 2014): 38-55
- "Sexual Barter in Times of Genocide: Negotiating the Sexual Economy of the Theresienstadt GhettoLink opens in a new window," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, (vol. 38, no. 3) spring 2013, Recipient of the Catharine Stimpson Prize for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship 2013
- "Rekla jsem si, ze se proste musím nejak prizpusobit: Mladé ceské zeny v ghettu Terezín," [“I Said to Myself I Simply Have to Adapt One Way Or Another:” Young Czech Women in Terezín Ghetto] Soudobé Dejiny 4, 18 (2011): 603-628
- "The Last of the Self-Righteous: Claude Lanzmann’s version of Benjamin Murmelstein," histoire@politique, fall 2014
- “Murky Waters in London and Prague: The Jewish Politics of the Czechoslovak Government, 1938-1948” review of Jan Láníček, Czechs, Slovaks and the Jews: Beyond Idealisation and Condemnation, Yad Vashem Studies, 42,1 (2014): 139-150.
Articles and Book Chapters
- 'Queere Geschichte und der Holocaust,' Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 38-39/2018 (Zeitgeschichten), pp. 42-47.
- 'Utajená láska v době holokaustu,' Lidové Noviny, 8 September 2018.
- ‘Den Holocaust queer erzählen,' Sexualitäten Jahrbuch 2018, pp. 86-110.
- ‘Ältere Menschen aus Deutschland im Ghetto Theresienstadt,’ In Deutsche Jüdinnen und Juden in Ghettos und Lagern (1941–1945): Łódz. Chełmno. Minsk. Riga. Auschwitz. Theresienstadt, ed. by Beate Meyer (Berlin: Metropol, 2016), pp. 201-220
- 'Israeli Historian Otto Dov Kulka Tells Auschwitz Story of a Czech Family That Never Existed,' Tablet Magazine, October 30, 2014
- ‘Mutmaßungen über deutsche Juden: Alte Menschen aus Deutschland im Theresienstädter Ghetto,’ In Alltag im Holocaust: Jüdisches Leben im Großdeutschen Reich 1941-1945, eds. Doris Bergen, Andrea Löw, and Anna Hájková (series Schriftenreihe der Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte) (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2013): 179-198
- ‘Der Judenälteste und seine SS–Männer: Benjamin Murmelstein, der letzte Judenälteste in Theresienstadt und seine Beziehung zu Adolf Eichmann und Karl Rahm,’ In "Der Letzte der Ungerechten:" Der Judenälteste Benjamin Murmelstein in Filmen 1942-1975, eds. Ronny Loewy and Katharina Rauschenberger (Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 2011): 75-100
- Respondee in Forum on “Nazi Terror,” German History 29, no. 1 (2011): 79-98
- ‘Die fabelhaften Jungs aus Theresienstadt: Junge tschechische Männer als dominante soziale Elite im Theresienstädter Ghetto,’ [The fabulous boys of Theresienstadt: Young Czech Men as the Dominant Social elite in the Theresienstadt Ghetto] Im Ghetto: Neue Forschungen zu Alltag und Umfeld (Beiträge zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus, 25), eds. Christoph Dieckmann and Babette Quinkert (2009): 116-135
- ‘Strukturen weiblichen Verhaltens in Theresienstadt,’ [The Structures of Women’s Behavior in Theresienstadt] in Genozid und Geschlecht: Jüdische Frauen im nationalsozialistischen Lagersystem, ed. Gisela Bock (Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 2005): 202-219
- ‘Zivot po Neuengamme: Zapomenutý koncentraèní tábor v Hamburku a Svaz bojovníkù za svobodu 1945—2000,’ [Life after Neuengamme: The Forgotten Concentration Camp in Hamburg and the Association of the Freedom Fighters, 1945-2000] Dejiny a soucasnost no. 3 (2005): 14-17
- ‘Das Polizeiliche Durchgangslager Westerbork,’ [The Police Transit Camp Westerbork] in Terror im Westen: Nationalsozialistische Lager in den Niederlanden, Belgien und Luxemburg 1940-1945, eds. Wolfgang Benz and Barbara Distel (Berlin: Metropol, 2004): 217-248
- ‘The Making of a Zentralstelle: Die Eichmann-Männer in Amsterdam,’ [The Making of a Zentralstelle: The Eichmann Men in Amsterdam] Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente (2003): 353-382
- ‘Spezifika im Verhalten der Niederländischen Juden in Theresienstadt,’ [The Specifics in Behavior of the Dutch Jews in Theresienstadt] in Abgeschlossene Kapitel? Zur Geschichte der Konzentrationslager und der NS-Prozesse, eds. Sabine Moller, Miriam Rürup, Christel Trouvé (Studien zum Nationalsozialismus, V) (Tübingen: edition discord, 2002): 88-103
- ‘Die Juden aus den Niederlanden in Theresienstadt,’ [Jews from the Netherlands in Theresienstadt] Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente (2002): 135-201
- ‘Die Acht Transporte aus dem ‘Reichskommissariat Niederlande’ in Theresienstadt,’ [Eight Transports from the ‘Reich Commissariate Netherlands’ in Theresienstadt] Theresienstädter Studien und Dokumente (2001): 230-251
- 'A Private War' An interview with Evelien Gans, The New Presence spring (2002), 39-40.