Holocaust Center presents Jews’ escape to India and Iran after 1933 – The Oakland Press

Posted By on June 21, 2021

While fascism was growing in Europe in the 1930s and Jews there were increasingly threatened, the United States under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt emphasized trade cooperation and neutrality to stay out of the conflict that erupted into World War II.

As Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, his Nazi party increasingly demonized, imprisoned and attacked residents of Jewish descent, forcing many to flee or die.

The Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hills visits a little-known aspect of this period in Trauma and Adventure in Transit: Jewish Refugees in Iran and India. Atina Grossmann, professor of history at the Cooper Union in New York City, will present the lecture on June 27.

Atina Grossmann is Professor of History at the Cooper Union in New York City. Her parents fled Nazi oppression and traveled to Iran and India in the 1930s. Photo courtesy of Atina Grossmann

The virtual event will provide insight on the Jews who escaped to India and Iran after 1933. On the margins of the Holocaust and anxious about their families fates, they were homeless and stateless, but also oddly privileged as adventurous Europeans in non-Western societies, according to the center.

This fascinating program will show how the plight of these Jews were shadowed by the emerging European catastrophe, and how they navigated complex and unfamiliar terrain in India and Iran, Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld, CEO of the Holocaust Memorial Center, said in a press release. They lost their livelihoods and professions, and had an anxious sense of their families fate or what their future held.

Grossmanns talk is informed by the experiences of her parents, and she will detail the challenges these Jews faced of living in a precarious forced transit that also offered experiences of adventurous travel, Mayerfeld said.

The program probes refugees understanding of their own unstable position, the changing geopolitical situation and coming to terms with revelations about the destruction of European Jewry.

Grossmann used archival sources, memoirs and letters, fiction and second- and third-generation reflections. She reviewed an extensive collection of family correspondence and memorabilia from both Iran and India between 1935 and 1947, including an almost daily letters between her mother in Tehran and her father in British internment camps in India and postwar in Bombay. Grossmann pays particular attention to the significance of gender and age and to the challenges of writing a hybrid history that aims to narrate a family story folded into a larger historical remapping of war, Holocaust, empire and displacement with Iran and India as key sites.

The program will take place as a live Zoom webinar at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 27. To register, visitholocaustcenter.org/june.

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Holocaust Center presents Jews' escape to India and Iran after 1933 - The Oakland Press

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