Professor Kaplan will focus on Jewish refugees in Portugal during World War II and examine a triangle of actors: the Jewish refugees themselves; the Portuguese national and local governments, civil servants, and citizens; and Jewish and transnational philanthropies. Using diplomatic, political, and legal history, and the history of daily life, Kaplan’s presentation will analyze the conditions, individuals, and laws that allowed Portugal to open (and sometimes close) its doors to tens of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing war-torn Europe and Nazi persecution. It will highlight how refugees coped once there, both practically and psychologically. The refugees’ sojourn in Lisbon captures a poignant moment: how did they adjust to the travails and sentiments of fleeing and waiting? Their frightening odysseys from impending doom to fragile safety, their fearful wait in an oddly peaceful purgatory, and their grateful surprise at the reactions of Portuguese citizens linked up with their private agonies.
Marion Kaplan is Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies as well as Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History at New York University. She has received the National Jewish Book Award for three of her books: The Making of the Jewish Middle Class: Women, Family and Identity in Imperial Germany (Oxford University Press, 1991); Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (Oxford University Press, 1998); and Gender and Jewish History, co-edited with Deborah Dash Moore (Indiana, 2011). She has published extensively on Jewish everyday life in Germany, Jewish feminism, women in Germany, and Jewish refugees in the Dominican Republic during World War II.