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Austria dealing with the past

Hannah Lessing minIn 1995, Hannah M. Lessing took the helm of Austria's National Fund, an institution entrusted with Holocaust recognition, restitution and remembrance. At the time, her father, himself a survivor, was less than impressed with her decision to turn her back on a successful banking career. His response? "Can you give me back my childhood? Can you bring back my mother from Auschwitz?"

"That's when I decided to do it, with the knowledge that we cannot turn back the hands of time, that we cannot repair anything," Hannah explains. And true to her word, she approached the then President of Parliament and asked for the job.  

"He asked what I would need to get started. I told him that I need you to write a letter, together with me, on Austrian parliament paper, where we say that we’re sorry, that it’s too late and we are aware that nothing can be repaired. Then, I need historians who will research, I need staff who will listen, and I need open access to the archives.

"'Very interesting', he said, and he told me to send him a letter with all of my ideas. I left the meeting thinking I'll never hear from him again. Still, I wrote the letter and two weeks later I had the job.  

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Doron Livnat: “My fearless father”

Doron Livnat minEvery year, Yitzhak Livnat would proudly welcome the new cohort of students and share his remarkable story of survival. He did so “in a very authentic way”, his son, Doron, tells us. “My father was always very genuine and very honest.” Sadly, Yitzhak passed away in March 2017, and so, Doron now carries the torch in his father’s honour.

Cohort VI joined Doron, together with his wife Marianne, at the Yitzhak Rabin Centre for a tour of the Israeli Museum. After all, Yitzhak Livnat was a devoted Zionist and his story, just like Rabin’s, is deeply entangled with that of the birth and development of the State of Israel. The perfect setting, then, in which to remember a dear friend of the programme.

Thankfully, Yitzhak’s story is well documented. He survived internment at Auschwitz, as well as subsequent death marches to Mauthausen and Gunskirchen, where, finally, liberation arrived in the form of American troops. From there, he began an arduous, improbable journey to Eretz Yisrael, one that took him to Bucharest, the Alps, the Vatican, Cyprus and, at long last, Haifa.

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One Stone. One Name. One Person.

Hier Wohnte Else Liebermann"A person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten." Words from the Talmud, no less, and the inspiration behind the world's "largest commemoration project", the Stolperstein.  

The brainchild of German artist Gunter Demnig in the early 1990s, Stolpersteine – stumbling stones or blocks – are commemorative brass plaques installed in the pavement in front of a Holocaust victim's last address of choice. Each engraving begins with the words, "Here lived…"            

Cohort VI enjoyed a lively afternoon with ethical campaigner Terry Swartzberg, who is a tireless and, quite clearly, passionate advocate of the memorial project. “Stolpersteine are just the start of getting to know someone, an introduction to the victim,” he explains. “We can restore their name to our consciousness.”

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Meet Our PhD Students

Michael GansMichael Gans, the United States

mgans@aol.com

Michael Gans is Director of Cultural Competence for a Holocaust Survivor Program, a RCSWI, and PhD candidate researching abuse, homophobia, mass-genocide and the transference of transgenerational trauma. He has been invited to speak at Yad Vashem, several international universities and is a self-taught filmmaker whose film, Jew Street, won two major awards.  He is an adjunct lecturer and co-creator of the I-witness Holocaust Field School in which university students explore ways mass-genocide is memorialized in Europe. Through clinical social work, Michael seeks to help clients grow and re-story their personal, familial and national narratives rooted in their traumatic memory of abuse, homophobia, slavery, forced displacement, or genocide.

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Alumni Feature

תמונת-ראש-נעהNoa Gidron

Cohort I

Thesis: Jews saving Jews – Individual Initiatives during the Holocaust, 1939-1945

Experience: Volunteer at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Archive since October 2014.

Conferences

  • Gidron, N. “Jewish Physicians rescuing Jews during the Holocaust, 1939-1945” at the 17th Nahariya Conference on Medicine and the Holocaust
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Prof. Stefan Ihrig awarded book prize

justifyinggenocide

We are delighted to report that Professor Stefan Ihrig has been awarded the 2017 Dr. Sona Aronian Book Prize for excellence in Armenian Studies

Stefan, who joined the faculty in 2016, was recognised by The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) for his book Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler (Harvard University Press).

Reacting to the announcement, Stefan said: “I am very humbled to be awarded the Sonia Aronian Prize and thank NAASR and my wonderful colleagues in the field of Armenian Studies.

“I have so far only spent a few years of my life working on the Armenian Genocide and yet they have been among the most meaningful of them all.”

Many congratulations, Stefan.

Alongside Stefan, Abraham Terian was also commended for his translation of a literary work, The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek: Annotated Translation of the Odes, Litanies, and Encomia (Pueblo Books).

The full story can be read here, courtesy of Armenian Weekly.

Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, New Issue Out Now

dapimWe are happy to announce the publication of a new issue of Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust!

Please take a look at the newest addition of Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust at the link below:

http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rdap20/31/3?nav=tocList