EHRI Fellow Katja Happe researched the persecution of Dutch Jews

Tuesday, 19 November, 2013

Since May 2012, Katja Happe has been a research associate at the Department of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Freiburg, Germany, for the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) project "The history of the persecution of Jews in the Netherlands 1940-1945". She was an EHRI fellow for four weeks in September 2013 at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. During her fellowship she did research for her project that will result in a book. She has specialized in Dutch-German history and had visited the NIOD before


1. Why did you apply for an EHRI fellowship?

It was an excellent chance to visit the NIOD and at this moment of my research project I needed a closer look at the library of the NIOD to see the latest publications, which were not available in Germany. I knew that I could talk to lots of experts on the topic at the NIOD, which I was sure would improve my research project a lot.

2. Did you feel welcome at the institute where you stayed for your fellowship?

I know a lot of people from the NIOD from my former visits and it is always a pleasure to come back. The NIOD is my favourite archive and I really like to do research in the scientific yet welcoming and helpful atmosphere there.

3. Has the fellowship helped you with your research? How?

My fellowship at the NIOD gave me the time to concentrate on the structure of my research project, which I could discuss with several people from the NIOD. Their expertise, not only on the topic but also on methods of organizing and accomplishment of a big project, has been a great help for me. Furthermore I could rely on the library and on the archive for some last questions and hints. Everything is so close and easily accessible.

4. Did it help your career in other ways? For example in the form of contacts?

My contacts at NIOD have been good before, but I was happy to get to know new people from the staff as well as from the reading room. I know that I can really rely on these contacts. Everybody is nice, helpful and really interested in talking and getting to know you. There have been very interesting and inspiring academic discussions at the NIOD itself, but Amsterdam provides you with lots of different possibilities (book presentations, conferences…) as well.

5. Did the fellowship live up to your expectations?

I had a great time in Amsterdam and at the NIOD. I have been working intensely, which has been a great step forward in my project. The talks and the work at the NIOD and elsewhere have been challenging and inspiring. They indicated problems and methodical questions and supported my approach at the same time. The fellowship at the NIOD came just at the right time to push my project and myself to a new grade of research.

6. Could some things about the fellowship (organization, hosting institute) be improved?

Everything was just perfect. All the organizational stuff was well taken care of and everything has gone very well. Whenever I have had a question, there is always somebody to answer it. I have been invited to all the meetings of the NIOD staff and was introduced very nicely by the director, and I also have access to internal mails to keep me informed of what is going on. There’s really nothing I could complain about!

7. Did you also visit other archives and institutes in the Netherlands for your research and was this useful?

I have been to other archives in the Netherlands (National Archive, Jewish Historical Museum, City Archive) for my project before the fellowship. So during my fellowship there was no need for me to go somewhere else.

8. How was your stay in Amsterdam otherwise? Accommodation, sightseeing?

I have been to Amsterdam quite often and I really love the city. Whenever I come back I enjoy the way of life in the city and the cultural opportunities. The four week fellowship gave me the time to see lots of friends again in my leisure time. My accommodation provided me with a bike, which is indispensable in Amsterdam and I enjoyed riding around and becoming a citizen during my stay there.

9. How is your research going at the moment? Plans for the future?

I continue with my project and follow and deepen the structure I have been developing at the NIOD. Next year I start writing my book and the time at the NIOD has provided me with the constitutive principles and structures on which I will depend while writing.

Read more about Katja Happe and the other EHRI fellows 2013.