Dean's Lecture Series presentation by Susanna Schrafstetter

The College of Arts and Sciences presents the 6th lecture in the 2019-20 Full Professor Lecture Series Thursday, February 20 at 4:30 p.m. in the Memorial Lounge, Waterman Building. Professor of History Susanna Schrafstetter will present "The “Benghazi Group” of European Jewish Refugees during the Holocaust."

This lecture will focus on the journey of over 300 Jews who attempted to reach Palestine from Italy in 1940 (who came to be known collectively as the “Benghazi Group.") Most of them, refugees from Nazi Germany and Austria, never made it to Palestine, and were temporarily stranded in Benghazi, then part of the Italian colonial empire. After several months, the group was forcibly sent back to Italy, and interned in the camp of Ferramonti, in the south of Italy.

The study of the “Benghazi group” provides insight into unusual escape routes of European Jews, Jewish refugee life in Italy before and during internment, the possibilities and limitations for self-help and agency among Jewish refugees, and the role of North African Jews in providing aid. Focusing on the perspective of the refugees, the lecture will also examine how the members of the Benghazi group struggled for survival in Ferramonti and elsewhere in Italy.

Susanna Schrafstetter's most recent work focuses on Jews who went into hiding in Germany during the Holocaust, and on German-Jewish refugees in fascist Italy. She has held fellowships at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the Center for Holocaust Studies at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, and the Leibniz Institute for European History in Mainz. She is the author of Flucht und VersteckUntergetauchte Juden in München - Verfolgungserfahrung und Nachkriegsalltag (Flight and Concealment: Fugitive Jews in Munich: Wartime Persecution and Postwar Experience) and the co-editor (with UVM colleague Alan Steinweis) of The Germans and the Holocaust: Popular Responses to the Persecution and Murder of the Jews.

The College of Arts and Sciences Full Professor Lecture Series was designed to give newly promoted faculty an opportunity to share with the university community a single piece of research or overview of research trajectory meant to capture the spark of intellectual excitement that has resulted in their achieving full professor rank.



Kevin Coburn