Marion Kaplan, Skirball Prof. of Modern Jewish History, New York University, will present this lecture. Kaplan will describe the travails of refugees escaping Nazi Europe and awaiting their fate in Portugal. Drawing attention not only to the social and physical upheavals of refugee existence, the talk highlights their feelings as they fled their homes and histories while begging strangers for kindness. Life in limbo has at its core anxiety and fear, but also courage and resilience. Most refugees in Portugal showed strength and stamina as they faced unimagined challenges. For them, Lisbon emerged as a site of temporality and transition, a “no-man’s-land” between a painful past and a hopeful future. Paying careful attention to the words of refugees in Portugal may help us to understand Jewish heartbreak and perseverance in the 1940s and also to listen compassionately to refugees’ stories in our own times.
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