Jack is primarily interested in issues concerning Jewish everyday life in the ghettos in Eastern Europe under National Socialist occupation. He has broader interests in Holocaust Studies, Jewish history, Modern German history and the lands of Eastern Europe.
Thesis Title: Building Castles in the Sky: The Role and Function of Rumours In the Lodz and Stanislawow Ghettos
Supervisor: Professor Conan Fischer
The purpose of the study is to investigate the occurrence and interpretation of rumours amongst the Jews incarcerated in the Lodz and Stanislawow ghettos. The subject of rumours, despite its prevalence in ghetto diaries and the first survivor testimony, has received scant attention in the secondary literature on the ghettos.
In the areas which Jews found themselves under Nazi occupation, the familiar institutions and discussion platforms ceased to exist and were replaced with rumours as the central channel of communication. This development opens up an interesting array of questions to the observer. For instance: What were the available news media and what value were they to the population? What were the rumours and speculations and how did their content change during the different phases of the ghettos existence? What impact did the trans-national encounters between Western and Eastern Jews have on the circulation of information? How did rumours contribute to the formation of an emotional atmosphere as well as to a climate of opinion? Such questions are of importance for understanding the world of the Jews under Nazism, in particular how the victims confronted the confusion of occupation, the reading of their new reality and how they formulated strategies for survival. As large ghettos, Lodz and Stanislawow often functioned as places with which to resettle smaller Jewish communities from the surrounding areas. The thesis will therefore highlight this spatial mobility and so shed light on the experiences of those confined in other under-researched ghettos.
The applied research questions in both sites shall provide a comparative element to the study and allow consideration as to the specific ghetto conditions which catalysed particular rumours and the mental world in which they could flourish. Consequently, the project aims to broaden our understanding of daily life in the ghettos.