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School of History

Dr Daniel Lee


Senior Lecturer in Modern French History



I am a historian of the Second World War and a specialist in the history of Jews in France and North Africa during the Holocaust. My first book, Pétain’s Jewish Children: French Jewish Youth and the Vichy Regime, 1940–42 (OUP, 2014) explored the coexistence between young French Jews and the Vichy regime. My second book, The SS Officer's Armchair (Jonathan Cape, 2020), examines the life of a low-ranking SS officer from Stuttgart whose personal documents were recently discovered sewn into the cushion of an armchair. I am concurrently working on a history of the Jews of Tunisia during the Second World War, and am also the Principal Investigator on a British Academy GCRF Sustainable Development Programme project entitled, “Traces of Jewish Memory in Contemporary Tunisia”.

I was an undergraduate at Sussex in History and French and completed an M.St and a DPhil in History at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. After completing my doctorate, I held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at Brasenose College, Oxford. I have held fellowships at the European University Institute (Max Weber Fellow), Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Before moving to Queen Mary in September 2019 I was a Vice Chancellor's Fellow in History at the University of Sheffield.

As a 2015 BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinker, I contribute often to radio.


Research Interests:

Research Interests

The history of Jews in France and the French Empire, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, the history of Jewish prostitution and sex work, 1880–1940. I am currently working on the diary of a North African Jew who spent part of WW2 in Yorkshire as an RAF aviator.


Research Funding

February 2020 – January 2023: AHRC-DfG UK-German Call for Proposals in the Humanities Principal Investigator on the “Illicit Jewish Exchange: Jewish Pimps, Prostitutes and Campaigners in a Transnational German and British Context, 1875–1940” (link is external) (£349,307.00 from the AHRC and €377,437.00 from the DfG). The two postdocs on this project are Dr Paola Zichi (QMUL) and Dr Tova Markenson (TU, Berlin) 

September 2018 – December 2020: British Academy Sustainable Development Programme (Global Challenges Research Fund, GCRF) Principal Investigator on the “Traces of Jewish Memory in Contemporary Tunisia” project (£266,943.00). The postdoc on this project is Dr Afef Mbarek (QMUL) September 2018 –July 2019 British Council Researcher Links Programme Principal Investigator on the “Jews, Migration, Trafficking, Sex Work and the Law: The Case of Brazil” project (£50,000)



Pétain's Jewish Children: French Jewish Youth and the Vichy Regime, 1940–42 (Oxford University Press, 2014)

The SS Officer’s Armchair (Jonathan Cape, 2020) - translated into: French (Liava Levi), German (DTV), Hebrew (Modan), Italian (Nottetempo), Dutch (Uniboek), Japanese (Misuzu Shobo)  and Czech (Albatros).







‘La coexistence et ses limites: la jeunesse juive française et le regime de Vichy: L’exemple du chantier rural des Éclaireurs israélites de France à Lautrec (Tarn)’ (link is external), Revue d’Histoire de la Shoah, 2020/2, no 212, 233–253.

'The Chantiers de la Jeunesse, General de la Porte du Theil and the Myth of the Rescue of Jews in Vichy France', French Historical Studies, Volume 38, Number 1, February 2015, 139–170


‘The Commissariat Général aux Questions Juives in Tunisia and the Implementation of Vichy’s Anti-Jewish Legislation’ in Sarah Stein and Aomar Boum (eds) The Holocaust and North Africa (Stanford University Press, 2018), pp. 132–148

‘Tunis’ in J–M. Chaumont, P. Servais and M. Rodriguez Garcia, Reports on Prostitution and Trafficking Produced by the League of Nations (Geneva, 2016)


I welcome enquiries from prospective students who are interested in topics related to my research and beyond, in particular the history of Jews in France and the French Empire, the Holocaust, immigrants and ethnic minorities in France.

External examiner for the PhD thesis of Florence Largillière (Queen Mary, University of London)

I also currently supervise: 

  • Diane Otosaka (University of Leeds), ‘Between Distance and Proximity: Holocaust Memory in Contemporary French and Francophone Literature’

Public Engagement

Op eds

Time Magazine: After World War II, Most ‘Ordinary Nazis’ Returned to Lives of Obscurity. The World Must Recover Their Stories Before It’s Too Late (link is external) (June 16, 2020) 

History News Network: The SS Officer's Armchair (link is external) (14 June 2020) 


'An Ordinary Nazi', History Extra (link is external)

'The SS Officer's Armchair', The World Wars (link is external)

BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking (6 Oct 2020) 'Writing a Life: Hermione Lee, Daniel Lee and Rachel Holmes' (link is external) 

BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking (6 May 2020) 'WWII radio propaganda and French relations' (link is external) 

Interview on BBC Radio 4 Last Word (link is external), on Claude Lanzmann (13 July 2018)

Interview on BBC Radio 4 Last Word, on Oskar Gröning, The Bookkeeper of Auschwitz (link is external), (28 March 2018)

BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking (20 Nov 2016) Sunday Feature: The fate of North Africa's Jewish communities during World War Two (link is external) 

'In Conversation with Leïla Slimani’ (link is external), University of Sheffield, December 2018

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