The Marcus Harmelin Travel Prize

The Marcus Harmelin Prize is ordinarily a Travel Prize to support the cost of travel for St Cross members’ research in Austria, Germany, Poland, or Ukraine. This annual prize, worth up to £1500, is intended to further research in the humanities and social sciences, particularly for projects exploring Jewish life and culture. Acceptable projects may be linked to a degree or current research project or may constitute a standalone project due to personal interest.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-21 Marcus Harmelin Prize will be offered as a research-based prize. Members of the College community, including current students, fellows, Junior Research Fellows, Postdoctoral Research Associates, and Members of Common Room are all eligible to apply.

Research undertaken for the prize may be linked directly to your degree, a current research project, or you may choose to undertake research for your own personal interest. Your project can be based around any subject area, but should include an element of consideration and reference to Jewish life, history, or culture, and may have a focus on Austria, Germany, Poland or Ukraine. Your project may be linked to history, but we are also very happy to consider proposals that are more inter-disciplinary and perhaps rooted in politics, sociology or anthropology, for example.

The prize will be worth £1500 which will be awarded in two instalments: £750 at the start of your project to support you with any costs associated with desk-based research, and £750 on the successful submission of a research paper, which will be reviewed by the St Cross Scholarships panel. The final submission date for the research paper will be 30 September 2021.

To apply for this prize, please compete the application form to outline the details of your proposed project. The closing date for applications is 17:00 GMT Wednesday 13 January 2021 and the winner will be notified by 10 February 2021.

Background to the Marcus Harmelin Prize

The Prize was established by Rosemary Preiskel, the great, great, granddaughter of Marcus Harmelin.

The Leipzig firm of Marcus Harmelin was one of the foremost European trading houses in the 19th and early 20th centuries and was a large trader in bristles and furs. Jacob Harmelin, the father of the company’s founder Marcus, travelled regularly to Leipzig for the trade fairs and was appointed an official broker for the City of Leipzig from 1818 onwards. This gave him permanent right of residence in the city which, for a Jew, was highly prized. He was succeeded as an official broker in 1830 by his son Marcus who founded the family firm. Together with his descendants and their in-laws, the Garfunkels, they would travel on sledges deep into Russia in search of supplies to places such as Nizhny Novgorod and deepest Siberia. The firm prospered and grew and was able to purchase and develop prominent buildings in the centre of Leipzig. One of the buildings which it commissioned is listed and survives to this day.

In 1930 the firm celebrated its 100th year, receiving letters of congratulations from many business, social and city organisations, amongst them a letter from the then mayor Carl Goerdeler, who was later to be executed for his role in the Stauffenberg plot. As part of its celebration the firm endowed a scholarship for city officials and employees of Leipzig businesses to enable them to travel and widen their horizons - a scholarship which has since disappeared. In 1939 the partners of the firm left Leipzig for England, a country with which they had strong trade links, and the firm was taken over by an administrator appointed by the National Socialist Regime. Other family members were not so fortunate. Three died in concentration camps and a fourth survived Theresienstadt to die shortly after the war in Leipzig.