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Judith Vocker

Political History, University of Leicester

Thesis title:

The 'Generalgouvernement' under foreign law: Criminal prosecution through the German jurisdiction during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw and Cracow (1939-1945)

My PhD evolves around the German jurisdiction apparatus and how they treated and punished crimes committed in- and outside of ghettos by Jews, Poles and Ethnic Germans. In doing so, I address what the occupiers defined as a ‘crime’ and according to which legal basis these were made applicable law. For my project, I focus on the German Court and the Special Court and their court verdicts, since these entities sentenced not only Jewish but also Polish and Ethnic German defendants.

Furthermore, I examine the development of court verdicts over the years of Nazi occupation in Warsaw and Cracow. In this way, I am able to show if and why any changes within the juridical entities occurred – or if they are connected to the occupation politics for the respective territories or the successful/unsuccessful of the course of the war from the German perspective. For this purpose, I discuss the occupation politics for the Generalgouvernment to reveal for which political and strategic purpose the Warsaw and Cracow Ghetto were constructed. This will be supported by comparing similar criminal offences, committed by Jews, Poles and Ethnic Germans throughout the existence in the respective ghetto. The focus lies on reconstructing the way juridical and police entities treated criminal cases and offenders from all spheres of society and to explore to what extent criminal persecution in- and outside the ghettos was influenced by the occupational aims, racial ideologies and the course of the war.

Research Area

  • Political History


with Dr Clara Frysztacka:The ambivalences in Europe, the Balkan in the history of the Europeanisation, in:Südosteuropa Mitteilungen[Notes on Southeast Europe], Vol. 1, 2018: pp. 200-215.

Book Review: Enstad, Johannes Due:  Soviet Russians under Nazi Occupation. Fragile Loyalties in World War II. Cambridge  2018 , in: H-Soz-Kult, 19.03.2019: www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/rezbuecher-29973.


10/2018 – Potsdam School of Jewish Theology and Jagiellonian University Cracow: 3rd Polish-German Workshop: 'Jewish Studies and Jewish Theology', October 24.-28th2018, Potsdam (Germany). Conference paper: Crime and criminal prosecution in the Warsaw Ghetto.

11/2018 – Midlands3Cities and WRoCAH: New Voices in Postcolonial Studies Network, November 21st2018, Leicester (UK), Talk: Criminal prosecution through German juridical entities in the ghettos and districts of Warsaw, Cracow and Riga during WW II.

12/2018 – Jewish Historical Institute and EHRI: Research and Preservation of the Secret Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto, December 6th2018 Warsaw (Poland). Conference paper: Crime and criminality as a part of everyday life in the Warsaw Ghetto.

01/2019 – German Historical Institute London: 23rdPostgraduate Students Conference, January 10-11th2019, London (UK). Conference paper: Criminal prosecution in the Warsaw, Cracow and Riga Ghettos through German juridical entities during World War II.

01/2019 – Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, January 22nd2019, London (UK). Talk: Criminal prosecution through German juridical entities in the cities of Warsaw, Cracow and Riga.

03/2019– The Ackerman Centre for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas: 49thAnnual Scholars' Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, March 2-4th2019, Dallas (USA). Paper: Criminal prosecution through German juridical entities in the cities and ghettos of Warsaw, Cracow and Riga.

03/2019 – Brigham Young University, March 12th2019, Provo (USA): Research Seminar:  The Generalgouvernement under foreign law: Criminal prosecution through the German jurisdiction during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw and Cracow.

04/2019 – British Association for Slavonic and Eastern European Studies: BASEES Annual Conference, Robinson College, April 12-14th2019, Cambridge (UK). Conference paper: Crime and Criminal prosecution in the Warsaw Ghetto.

05/2019 – The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum: 6th International Conference of the Riga Forum, Museums of Holocaust in the XXI Century: Challenges and Opportunities, Riga (Latvia), May 20-22nd2019. Paper: The Muranów district as a memorial of the former Warsaw Ghetto.

06/2019 – European-University Viadrina: Eastern European Studies Colloquium. Frankfurt Oder (Germany), June 3rd 2019. Talk:The 'Generalgouvernement' under foreign law: Criminal prosecution through the German jurisdiction during Nazi occupation of Warsaw and Cracow.

06/2019 – University of Leeds: New Voices in Post-Colonial Studies Symposium, Leeds (UK), June 13th 2019. Paper: Giorgio Agamben's theory of the 'State of exception' and the Holocaust'.

06/2019 – The National September 11 Memorial and Museum: Andrew W. Mellon Conference: Traversing the Gap: Relevance as a Transformative Force at Sites of Public Memory, New York City (USA), June 19-21st 2019. Conference Paper: The Muranów district as a memorial of the former Warsaw Ghetto. 

07/2019 – German Society for Eastern European Studies, Research Centre for East European Studies, Eastern Europe College NRW: 27th Conference of Junior Scholars in the field of Eastern European Studies, Bochum (Germany), July 12-14th2019. Paper: The criminal prosecution of Jews through the German jurisdiction in the Warsaw Ghetto.

07/2019 – Moscow Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization SEFER: 26th Annual International Sefer Conference on Jewish Studies, Moscow (Russian Federation), July 14-16th2019. Paper: The Generalgouvernement under Nazi law: The prosecution of 'Crimes' in the Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi occupation.

07/2019 – British Association for Holocaust Studies: 6th Annual Conference: Narratives of the Holocaust, University of Roehampton (London, UK), July 17-19th2019. Paper: Testimonies from the Warsaw Ghetto.

09/2019 – German History Society Annual Conference, King's College London (UK), September 3-5th2019. Paper: The Generalgouvernement under foreign law: the German jurisdiction in 'Jewish Ghettos.

Public Engagement & Impact

since September 2019 - Co-director of the New Voices for Postcolonial Studies Research Network

since March 2019 - Participant in the Journey2Justice group in Leicester

since November 2018 - Volunteer for the OneRoof Night Shelter in Leicester 

since December 2018 - Volunteer at the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Leicester

since November 2018 - Student representative on the Postgraduate Student Staff Committee of the University of Leicester

since October 2018 - Reviewer for Humanities-Social- and Cultural History (H-Soz-Kult)

September 2018 - Volunteer at the Annual German History Society Conference in Leicester

February-May 2019 - Co-organiser of the Postgraduate Conference at the University of Leicester 

February-May 2019 - Co-organiser of the Midlands4Cities Research Festival in Birmingham 

Other Research Interests

Political philosophy of Giorgio Agamben, intersection of legal philosophy and jurisprudence, the transnational history of World War II.


American Association for Slavonic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)

British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES)

British Association for Holocaust Studies

German History Society

German Society for Studies of Eastern Europe (DGO)

Association for Jewish Studies (AJS)