Rebuilding Lives after the Shoah in the United States, France and Israel (1948-1993)

Through memoirs, testimonies, archival material, various writings by Holocaust survivors and interviews (some of which have been conducted by the author in three languages), Dr. Ouzan has examined the return to life and the process of rebuilding lives in France, the United States, and Israel.

Her study explores the Jewish identity of the survivors, their general human approach towards universal values and their commitments to make this world a better place. In so doing, her work leans on theoretical writing in sociology, psychology and literature, offering insights into the reasons why one individual chose one way or another, while acknowledging the importance of political, social and cultural contexts. The completed research is a longitudinal study on the experiences and contributions of survivors in three countries over the course of sixty to seventy years after the war. In that respect, this work differs from previous studies on Holocaust survivors.

The comparative approach of the volume is crucial in understanding how the diverse political environment crystalized the differences and the similarities between the various war experiences of the survivors, whether they were in hiding, camps, fighting in the forests, etc. Dr. Ouzan corrects a few long-standing, mistaken perceptions and sets a research agenda for other scholars. As she notes: “This book is destined to be one of the last attempts to analyze the survivors’ various pasts and present while some still strive to be vocal in the public sphere. It will hopefully keep alive their legacy and demonstrate their determination to ensure continuity and endow their lives with meaning, against all odds”. In the context of today’s international refugee problem, Dr. Ouzan’s work is inspiring as one can derive knowledge about how victims of genocide may enrich their host countries.

Dr. Ouzan‘s manuscript has been accepted by a prominent university press in the United States.

 Jews in the American Army in World War II: Experiences Abroad and Meaningful Encounters

Dr. Ouzan’s new research concentrates on “the liberators” – in particular, American Jewish soldiers during World War II in all the theaters of the war. Among the sixteen million Americans who served in every branch of the military forces, and participated in liberating the world from the Nazis and their Axis partners, there were over 550,000 self-identified Jews.

Drawing on a multitude of in-depth interviews and testimonies, as well as on letters written by soldiers to their families, this research explores various types of archives in the United States, in France and in Israel. This research attempts to recount and understand the nature of the Jewish GIs war experiences, especially in unfamiliar territories and cultures.

The significance of this research cannot be overstated: through oral history which provides details that are usually absent from other sources, letters and photographs, as well as war diaries, the impact of military service on the soldiers’ American and Jewish identities can be best analyzed. This study also aims at undermining stereotypes about Jewish soldiers such as “unpatriotic cowards” at a period when antisemitism was at its peak in the United States. It enables a reassessment of anti-Jewish attitudes in the American military during World War II.

Forthcoming Publications

Françoise S. Ouzan, “From the Jewish Resistance in France to the Jewish State: Intersecting Roads”, in Jewish Soldiers in World War II, edited by Kiril Feferman, Simha Goldin and Dina Porat (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 2017), vol. 17 of Michael: On the History of Jews in the Diaspora.

Françoise S. Ouzan, “Zeev Birger, survivant de la Shoah, et le développement de Jérusalem”, in Si c’était Jérusalem, Schibboleth-Actualité de Freud, Paris, Editions In Press, 2017 (ed. by Michel Wolkowitz).

Françoise S. Ouzan, How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt their Lives : France, the United States, and Israel, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2018.

Conferences and Lectures

  • April 18–20, 2016
    Dr. Ouzan delivered a lecture entitled “Zeev Birger et le développement de Jérusalem” which dealt with the impact of this survivor on the cultural development of Jerusalem. It took place in Beit Begin, in Jerusalem (organized by Schibboleth-Actualité de Freud, “If It Was Jerusalem”.

  •  May 19, 2016
    As part of the Center’s symposium “Les combattants juifs de la Seconde Guerre mondiale”, Dr. Ouzan delivered a lecture entitled “Le résistant Otto Giniewski et le Mouvement de la jeunesse sioniste (MJS) en France”.

  •  April 20, 2017
    Dr. Ouzan participated in the Center’s symposium “Jewish Soldiers in World War II” in which she delivered a lecture entitled “A Meaningful Encounter: Jewish GIs and Jews in French North Africa (1942–1943)”.

  • October 22, 2017
    Dr. Ouzan was invited by Aloumim, an organization of hidden children during the Holocaust based in Jerusalem to deliver a lecture on “Holocaust Survivor Menachem Perlmutter and the Desert of the Negev”.

  • May 27, 2018
    Dr. Ouzan participated in the Center's symposium "Saving Jewish Children in France during World War II and their Fate in the Aftermath" in which she delivered a lecture entitled "From Victims to Social Activists: The Case Study of Boris Sirulnik". 

  • December 13, 2018
  • The Center organized a symposium in honor of the publication of Dr. Ouzan's new book: How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt Their Lives: France, the United States, and Israel.

 

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