Hitler’s ideologies concerning “race and space” propelled the Holocaust, as historian Doris Bergen succinctly articulated. A central component of the National Socialists’ worldview was the notion that Germans needed to acquire additional living space in order to vanquish the existential threat of “Judeo-Bolshevism”. Therefore, Nazis aimed to clear Central and Eastern Europe of its Jewish and Slavic communities and prepare the landscape for German settlers.
But long before Germany began its “war of extermination” against the Soviet Union in 1941, Nazis had begun reconfiguring cityscapes in Germany to fit their ideologies. Most important in this endeavor were the exclusion of German Jews from public spaces and the erasure of traces of them in the cityscape. Nazi Party members, federal and city bureaucrats, and ordinary German citizens destroyed and confiscated synagogues and Jewish shops and increasingly barred Jews from all aspects of public space: from worksites, stores, restaurants, buses, sidewalks, and ultimately, even from their own homes. This gradual but radical exclusion of Jews from space culminated in their confinement to “Jew-houses” and eventually, their deportation to extermination camps in the East. In this talk, Teresa Walch will discuss the legal measures and everyday actions perpetrated against Jews that led to their isolation, alienation, and eventual exclusion in 1930s Germany. These steps were important precursors to what later transpired in the 1940s, for concentration camps, ghettos, and mass extermination were preceded by the calculated exclusion of Jews from space in their own homelands.
Teresa Walch is the 2016-2017 USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research Robert J. Katz Research Fellow in Genocide Studies. She is working towards her PhD at UC San Diego. She earned her BA in History & German from the College of Saint Benedict and an MA in European History with minors in Urban & Global History from the University of California, San Diego in 2015. She has served as a volunteer for Action Service Reconciliation for Peace at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site and has been awarded many research prizes and fellowships, including a Fulbright for dissertation research in Germany.
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Read more about Teresa Walch here.