Historisches Seminar



The Flight and Plight of the Jews of Lwów: Challenging the Conventional Link Between Flight, Border Crossing, and Survival of the Holocaust (1941-1944)

Dissertationsprojekt von Ayelet Eva Herbst

Betreuer: Prof. Dr. Martin Schulze Wessel und Prof. Dr. Frank Bajohr


In her doctoral dissertation Ayelet Eva Herbst follows the trails of Jews who escaped Lwów (today: L’viv, western Ukraine) between 1941 and 1944 and tried to survive the Holocaust in German occupied territories. Positioned in the intersection of migration and holocaust studies, her study asks how the flight of Polish Jews continued following the German invasion of the Soviet Union and the occupation of eastern Galicia, examining the emergence of flight as a survival strategy. Using the Jewish community of Lwów as a case study per-excellence, Herbst centers Jewish ego-documents as primary sources, analyzing the various factors influencing choices, possibilities, and organization of flight. She argues that due to territorial changes, crossing of borders was nearly impossible and in order to successfully escape Lwów, Jews had to find either a temporary or a permanent place of refuge within the Nazi sphere of influence and navigate a Jewish- hostile milieu. This in turn was a challenge that the majority of Jews could not meet nor sustain and even when attempted, in most of the cases it did not result in survival. Thus, the research aims contribute to the fields of Holocaust studies by challenging the conventional link between flight, border crossing, and survival.
Ayelet Eva Herbst is a PhD candidate at the Ludwig Maximilian University in the institute of Eastern and Southeastern European History. She studied Holocaust, Communication and Tolerance at Touro University Berlin and graduated in 2018 with a master's thesis on Jewish refugee movements to eastern Ukraine during the Second World War. She is a former fellow of the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk, a recipient of the Conny Kristel Fellowship, as well as a residency of the Institute for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv. Her research interests focus on the Holocaust in Ukraine and Jewish migration during the Second World War and the Holocaust, with particular emphasis on everyday life experiences of individuals and families. Specializing in ego-documents, Herbst employs a bottom-up approach to study experiences of Jews via a contextualize analysis of their wartime diaries, testimonies, interviews, and memoirs. In the past 5 years she has provided such expertise to different memorial projects across Berlin.