I have not yet learned how to embed photos into my blog like some Fulbrighters. But I did want to write another post before Shabbat and the weekend begins, as a lot is happening here in Switzerland.
I am happy to say that the Museum of Tolerance New York has agreed to host an event featuring Laura’s photography and my research. I am excited for this event, which will take place in NYC in the fall. Here is a link to their website: www.museumoftolerancenewyork.com/.
The most exciting thing about being here in Switzerland has been the “field” aspect to my research. Many historians don’t get to engage in field work when working on their research. Besides the presentations and lectures I’ve given, I’ve had to go inside communities, speaking to all types of different people, in order to find the survivors with whom to speak, engage in their trust, and allow them to have a good interview experience, too. I’ve been speaking to experts on testimonials, to learn how to best conduct the interviews and to find out how to learn what I need to learn from them. When I began the Fulbright experience, a friend and colleague asked if I was going to spend time in the local communities where Jewish refugees actually were. I had never thought of this as a potential part of my Fulbright research, in addition to the interviews and archival work. I am happy to say that I have spent many days traveling the French-Swiss Border, at the former Institut Ascher in Bex, in Versoix and Geneva at the homes, and at other places. I am also planning a trip to Le Chambon to look into the community there and see where Jewish children were hidden during the war, in addition to meet with a historian and archivist there who will help me navigate and learn.
I have been preparing a paper for a presentation to a scholarly research circle, and subsequently spent over two hours with an archivist at the Cantonal Archives in Geneva yesterday. The goal was to create a list of Jewish refugees, age 2-18, who were accepted into the Canton of Geneva between 1 August 1942 and 1 June 1945. After the archivist spent 30 minutes telling me the limitations of the search and some of the inherent problems with creating such a list, he agreed to work with me on it. In the end, we were able to create the list. The thing that surprised me the most was that around 3,000 children and adolescents were accepted into Switzerland during those dates, with only 114 (or possibly 118) refused. There are a lot of complexities and codes with the list, but it was very exciting to see some numbers, even if they are not 100% accurate at this point.
More to come soon! I am going to try and post more photos and reflections in these last few months!