Trajectories of the Persecuted During the Second World War: Contribution to a Microhistory of the Holocaust

Part of the Life Course Research and Social Policies book series (LCRS, volume 2)


The application of prosopographical methods to the study of the Holocaust remains fairly uncommon, especially in France. In this chapter, we draw on a survey that allowed us to reconstruct “trajectories of persecution” through the Second World War, in order to discuss the difficulties and possible benefits of sequence analysis in this investigation on a cohort of about a thousand people identified as Jews and residing in Lens at the beginning of the War. Our attempts to “model” persecution and its effects on their trajectories raised a certain number of methodological issues, mostly dealing with the linearity of the causal schema implied by our approach: is it appropriate to reduce choices made under tragic circumstances to their social determinants? To conceptualize our data as “trajectories of persecution” seems to offer interesting prospects for overcoming some of these difficulties. By moving from a logic of properties to a logic of sequential states, and from a logic of causes to a logic of paths, we describe, order and interpret the plurality of trajectories, yet without abandoning quantification.


Start Date Jewish Community Individual Trajectory Naturalization File French Citizen 
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Copyright information

© Springer New York Heidelberg Dordrecht London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre Max WeberENS de Lyon, CNRSLyonFrance
  2. 2.Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaineENS Ulm, CNRSParisFrance

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