During her Harry & Helen Gray/AICGS Reconciliation fellowship, Lina Nikou worked on her PhD project, focusing on how Holocaust survivors and emigrants in the United States experienced the official invitations issued by their cities of origin in Germany. The aim is to conduct an exemplary study on the reception of German reconciliatory efforts, which have thus far been analyzed, due to the scarcity of source material.
With funding from the ZEIT-Foundation Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius, Ms. Nikou’s PhD project, titled ‘Invitations to the Old Hometown’, examines how German cities since the 1960s invited mostly Jewish survivors and emigrants back to their former hometowns for a one- or two-week stay. These invitations took place all over Germany, particularly since the 1980s. Dölling und Galitz published Ms. Nikou’s monograph “Zwischen Imagepflege, moralischer Verpflichtung und Erinnerungen” in 2011, which represents the first case study on such an invitation program and focuses on Hamburg. Her PhD project compares how the invitations developed in Munich, (West) Berlin and Hamburg from the 1960s until today.
The comparative study closes several voids by contrasting local culture of remembrance in the long term, a field that has mostly remained understudied. The research compares the development of the programs in the three cities mentioned above and examines the governmental role, looking at local specifics and similarities. In addition, the correspondence between program organizers in Germany and former citizens abroad opens the unique possibility to analyze the sphere of interaction and approaches between German officials and Jewish emigrants – an otherwise difficult to capture dynamic. Therefore, in addition to the invitation programs and their reception, the work also examines transnational German-Jewish relations after 1945.
Since 2010, Ms. Nikou has worked toward her PhD at the Research Center for Contemporary History in Hamburg (Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg) after finishing her MA in history, political science, cultural anthropology and management of museums at Hamburg University. Ms. Nikou also worked at an oral history archive for several years, which is one of her main fields of interest, as well as culture of remembrance and Jewish history.
Made possible by the support of Harry & Helen Gray Culture & Politics Program