University of Toronto (Kanada)
E-Mail: lauren.fedewa [at] mail.utoronto.ca
‘Always One Step Away from Death, and Always Afraid’: Jewish Women who ‘Passed’ as Polish-Christian Forced Laborers in Germany during the Holocaust
Lauren Fedewa's dissertation examines Polish-Jewish women who attempted to pass as Polish-Christian forced laborers in Germany during the Holocaust. This work challenges the tendency to treat Polish, German, and Jewish histories of the Holocaust and war as separate from one another by constructing an integrated history around the phenomenon of passing as a non-Jewish forced laborer within the forced labor system in the German "Altreich". It will illuminate the experience and implications of passing to the study of the Holocaust, foregrounding passing as not only an individual act but a performance involving actors and audience. In particular, Lauren's research focuses on the ways in which the experience of Jewish women hiding "above the surface," Polish-Christian forced laborers, and German employers, workers, and officials intersected in employment offices and transit camps in occupied Poland and in Germany, and at labor sites in German factories, on farms, and in households. The study asks, how does the Jewish survival strategy of passing as a non-Jewish forced laborer improve our understanding of the functioning of the German war economy, the mobilization and use of Polish women forced labor, and the operations of the German labor administration during the war? What strategies and networks did Jewish women use to adopt and maintain their Polish-Christian identities? And finally, which spaces and situations in the context of the non-Jewish forced labor experience exposed Jewish passers to the greatest risks?
During her stay at the ZZF Lauren Fedewa researches in the department IV: Regimes of the Social Sphere.
Lauren Fedewa is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, Canada. Lauren’s research interests include the Holocaust and genocide, modern Jewish history, and European history. Lauren earned a B.A. in History and Germanic Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2015 and an M.A. in History from the University of Vermont in 2018. Her master’s thesis, written under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Jonathan Huener and other professors affiliated with the Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont, is titled “Between Extermination and Child-Rearing: The Foreign Child-Care Facilities of Volkswagen and Velpke.” Lauren obtained a U.S. Fulbright Student Research Grant in September 2018 and spent ten months collaborating with professors and students at the Historisches Seminar at the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University in Hannover, Germany. She has also been the recipient of other fellowships and awards, including the Claims Conference Saul Kagan Fellowship in Advanced Shoah Studies (2022), the HEFNU Summer Institute on the Holocaust and Jewish Civilization (2022), the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Summer Graduate Research Assistantship (2017), the Connaught International Scholarship for Doctoral Students (2019-2024), and the Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellowship (2017). Lauren has also worked as a research contractor for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Mandel Center where she researched and wrote encyclopedia entries on sites of persecution for children of non-Jewish Polish and Soviet forced laborers in Germany, which will be published in Volume V of the "Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945".