Lisa Leff and Hannah Rothschild: The Archive Thief
In the aftermath of the Holocaust, Jewish historian Zosa Szajkowski appropriated tens of thousands of documents from Nazi buildings in Berlin and, later, from public archives and private synagogues in France, moving them all, illicitly, to New York. Using these documents as the basis for his research, he became a world expert on the history of the Jews in France and then sold this material to American and Israeli research libraries, where they remain today.
Lisa Leff, winner of the Sami Rohr Prize, reconstructs his story in all its ambiguity and, in so doing, highlights the importance of preserving archival material and ensuring that is made available for everyone. In conversation with author and Chair of the National Gallery’s Board of Trustees, Hannah Rothschild.
Sponsored by the National Library of Israel.
Lisa Moses Leff was born in Washington D.C. She attended Oberlin College and received her PhD from the University of Chicago. She is Associate Professor of History at American University where she is also affiliated with the Jewish Studies Programme. She is a visiting professor at Oxford University.
Hannah Rothschild is a writer and film director. Her documentary feature films have appeared on the BBC and HBO and at international film festivals. She became Chair of the National Gallery’s Board of Trustees in August 2015 and is a Vice President of the Hay Literary Festival. Her recent novel, The Improbability of Love, won the 2106 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction.