Points of Passage: Jewish Transmigrants from Eastern Europe

Call for papers

Points of Passage: Jewish Transmigrants from Eastern Europe in  
Germany, Britain, Scandinavia and other Countries 1860–1929

International Conference, Hamburg, 13–15 September 2008

Between 1870 and 1914 several million Eastern Europeans –Jews, Poles,  
Ukrainians, Lithuanians, ethnic Germans, Hungarians and others –  
migrated West, overwhelmingly to the United States, and to a lesser  
degree to Western, Northern and Central Europe as well as other  
destinations such as Argentina, Palestine, and South Africa. While  
much is known about their immigration experience, notably in the  
United States, the paths of mass migration across “green borders”,  
through European railway stations and ports have been little studied.  
The dimensions of the transmigration were impressive. It is estimated  
that several million migrants crossed Germany from East to West  
between 1880 and 1914; the numbers for Britain and Scandinavia were  
also high. The First World War interrupted the transatlantic  
migration almost completely. In its aftermath migration across Europe  
and beyond was severely restricted. The impact of the migration  
restrictions especially in the United States on the transit countries  
has not been sufficiently studied.
This conference will focus on Jewish transmigrants – without ignoring  
others. Most of the two million Jews who left Eastern Europe for the  
West before the First World War crossed through Germany; probably  
around a million through Britain. In the West, Jews from the Russian  
Empire, the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia, and Romania were  
perceived as the most prominent group, not only numerically but also  
in terms of “visibility”. Negative images of Jews were at the  
forefront of the perception of and public debates about the mass  
migration of “strangers” from the “East” in Britain, Imperial Germany  
and the United States. The Jewish mass migration was also distinctive  
as it concerned and involved established Jewish communities in the  
countries of transmigration and destination. And Jews from Eastern  
Europe in particular were affected by the post-1918 migration  
restrictions. Many were displaced by violent persecution in the  
aftermath of the war. Migration restrictions and statelessness  
literally deprived many of mobility.

The conference will bring together established and younger scholars  
whose work covers aspects of Jewish transmigration between 1860 and  
1929. The organizers have drawn up a preliminary program and several  
specialist scholars have already committed to the conference. We do  
however welcome proposals from scholars currently researching the  
following topics:
–       causes of the Jewish mass migration
–       infrastructure of the migration (paths, mode of transport,  
steamship lines)
–       hygiene and health
–       the perspective of individual migrants
–       return migration
–       state policies and (trans-) migration
–       Jewish organizations (migrants and/or established Jews in the  
West)
–       public perception of transmigrants

Proposals (500 Words + short CV) are welcome: tb4 [a t] soton.ac.uk,  
deadline 15 June 2007. Authors whose proposals are being considered  
will be contacted by 30 September 2007.

A publication of the conference papers is planned. The conference  
language is English.

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