Feeling familial separation

Feeling familial separation: unaccompanied Jewish youth migration to the United States, 1933-1945

Dr Daniella Doron

About the project

This project knits together the history of emotions and the experiences of youth to make several critical interventions into existing scholarship on the experience and migration of Nazi-era Jews.

The history of those who escaped Nazi Europe remains under-researched. The existing scholarship either explains how Jews left Nazi Europe, the paper barriers placed by potential host countries, or Jewish acculturation into new societies. In contrast, my recent work has tracked the migration of unaccompanied refugee youth from Nazi Europe to the United States, examining the experience of familial separation and utilising a history of emotions frame.

The story of Nazi refugee youth is typically presented in post-war testimonies and current historiography as one of victimhood and loss. While that is certainly the case, it nonetheless lays in stark contrast to how refugee youth presented themselves at the time. My current research, which will culminate in a book, demonstrates how the history of emotions explains coping strategies of Nazi-era Jews, decisions regarding mobility or immobility, and the agency of youth during the twin experience of child migration and the Holocaust.

Related publications 

"Historical analogies and separated families", PublicSeminar.org, November 2020.

"Young border crossers: Jewish youth during the age of migration", AJS Perspectives, Spring 2017.

Related talks & events

Feeling Familial Separation: Nazi Era Refugee Youth in the United States, Ohio State University, Migration, Mobility and Immobility (MMI) Project / Melton Center for Jewish Studies Lecture Series, January 2020.

“Families Separated: An ‘Emotional History’ of Refugee Youth", Monash University, History Department Seminar Series, August 2019.


Podcast interview, Ohio State University, January 2020.