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PhD and a Cup of Tea: Reading Novels on the Cattle Cars: American Humanitarian Relief in the Internment Camps of Unoccupied France, 1940-42

February 22 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Deportation of Jews to the Gurs concentration camp in France, Courtesy Yad Vashem

Deportation of Jews to the Gurs concentration camp in France, Courtesy Yad Vashem

Part of our new seminar series: Humanitarianism, Refugees and the Holocaust

During the Second World War, a coalition of international aid organizations provided important humanitarian aid to the Jewish and non-Jewish internees in the internment camps of Unoccupied France from 1939 onward. That humanitarian aid extended through the summer and autumn of 1942, when the deportations to Auschwitz via Drancy began.

The humanitarians pleaded with Vichy officials, including Marshal Pétain, to stop the deportations; when that was unsuccessful, they gave the deportees food, water, and books for the train journey; took their belongings and money for safekeeping; and transmitted their final words to loved ones in the United States.

This talk will discuss the on-the-ground actions taken by the humanitarians during the deportations and will probe the darkest, most fraught aspect of their work that summer: the fact that several humanitarians were forced to decide who was spared from deportation—and who was not. In doing so, this talk will also explore the category of “Holocaust relief,” and how this category can help us better discuss humanitarianism and rescue during the Holocaust.

About the Speaker:

Meghan Riley is an advanced doctoral candidate at Indiana University. She is an historian of the Holocaust, Europe, and France, and is especially interested in the intersection of humanitarianism and the Holocaust, which her dissertation explores. During the 2017-2018 academic year she was a Fulbright Fellow in France, and from 2017 to 2019 she was a Saul Kagan Fellow in Advanced Shoah Studies. She has participated in the Global Humanitarianism Research Academy and the Auschwitz Jewish Studies Fellows Program. Her doctoral work has spanned twelve archives in four countries and has been supported by the American Academy of Jewish Research as well by multiple departments and programs at Indiana University.

Virtual seminar guidelines:

  1. The Library will send you a Zoom link and joining instructions via email prior to the event. Please check your junk email folders.
  2. Please try and join 5 minutes before the event start time and we will let you into the room (do try and bear with us if this takes a few minutes).
  3. If you would like to ask a question during the event, the chair may invite you to raise your hand or type your question into the chat function, and we will endeavour to answer as many questions as possible during the Q&A.
  4. This event will not be recorded. The seminar series is generally not recorded because the topics presented are works in progress.

This event is free, although registration via the link below is required. Please note that our free events are run by staff volunteers. Thank you for your patience should we have any technical or audio difficulties. We will do our best to correct them but this is not always possible.

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