Missing Links: Social Bonds and Barriers Amongst Italian Jewish Deportees




April 23, 2019 at 12:00 PM Pacific Time

A public lecture by Bieke Van Camp (PhD candidate in Contemporary History, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, France)
2018-2019 Robert J. Katz Research Fellow in Genocide Studies

Organized by the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research


In this lecture, Bieke Van Camp will present some of the findings of her ongoing doctoral research on social interaction and group survival strategies in the Nazi concentration and extermination camps. She will explore how network analysis of Italian testimonies from the oral collections of the Visual History Archive and the Centro Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea of Milan suggests that a very large majority of Italian Jews were deported initially to the same Nazi Lager (Birkenau) during a rather small lapse of time (October 1943 – 1945). Both arguments enhance the possibility that the individuals would come across one another. Furthermore, Italian Jews were deported in a relatively smaller number (compared to Jews of other European countries) which facilitates the determination of the actors’ social environments. This talk will use socio-historical and network analysis to explore the corpus of selected testimonies in an effort to understand what factors can influence the social interactions and bonds between two or more deportees and whether usual boundaries of social classes persisted within the Nazi camps.

Bieke Van Camp is a PhD student affiliated to the Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire en Sciences Humaines et Sociales, Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, France. Her doctoral research aims to consider the persecution of European Jews through the combination of quantitative (prosopography, lexicometry and network analysis) and qualitative analyses of testimonies. The main hypothesis investigates how and whether, beyond the irreducible uncertainties that arise in such extreme situations, the socio-cultural background from before deportation could influence the way the individual behaves in the Nazi concentration and extermination camps. Formerly, Bieke Van Camp earned her Master’s Research Degrees in Italian Studies and History & Social Sciences from the University Paul-Valéry, Montpellier. She has served as a 2016-2017 European Holocaust Research Infrastructure Fellow and was awarded a one-month scholarship of the Ecole Française de Rome.