Andrea Kirchner is a PhD Candidate at the Martin-Buber-Chair for Jewish Philosophy at the Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main/ Germany and a Research Fellow at the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History at the Hebrew University Jerusalem/ Israel.
Her dissertation deals with the political work and thought of Richard Lichtheim (1885–1963), one of the more important but so far underexplored figures within the Zionist movement before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. At the outbreak of World War Two Lichtheim was the representative of the Zionist Organisation in Geneva and his office soon became one of the central points of communication between Europe’s persecuted Jewish communities and the so-called free world. One of the main goals of this research project is to examine Lichtheim’s role within the relief and support network of Jewish organisations operating in Geneva as well as the impact of the Nazi destruction of European Jewry on Lichtheims’s perception of Zionism.
During her research stay at the Wiener Library in London she intends to examine different archival collections containing significant information regarding Lichtheim’s political work in Switzerland. Especially Lichtheim’s correspondence with the network of Jewish emissaries surrounding him will shed light on his involvement in relief efforts and diplomatic activities organised in Geneva as well as the ideological, political and emotional challenges he faced when confronted with the mass murder of European Jewry.