On January 31st, 2024, Professor John Packer delivered the Center’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day Lecture, titled “Remembering, Learning, and Applying ‘Never Again’ as the Essential Lesson of the Holocaust.” In this interview, Professor Packer discusses the UN’s human rights and genocide prevention approach, the role of NGOs in peace mediation, and preliminary measures in the context of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s South Africa v. Israel case.


Ryken Farr is a second-year Honors undergraduate at the University of Minnesota. He’s pursuing a History B.A. with a concentration in Holocaust history and is the recipient of the Leo and Lillian Gross Scholarship in Jewish Studies. In addition, Ryken is a student worker with the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Ryken chose to focus his academics around Holocaust history because it was a topic that he had a prior interest in but was not being taught about extensively in the classroom. Having been at the University for almost two years, he says it’s been enriching to learn more about the history of the Holocaust in the classroom, through his own research, and work like the CHGS’s.


After Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine in 2022, one of the most common associations that Russians will evoke in both Ukrainians and in many peoples all over the world will not be Dostoevsky, ballet, or caviar, but rather genocide. 

Although Putin’s occupation forces commit many crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, genocidal actions against Ukrainians are increasingly being discussed. 

Here I reflect on whether it is possible to talk about genocide now and how Russian actions differ from genocides in the past. Based on a careful analysis of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention), determine two possible types of genocide and justify which of them is used by Russia as a tool of imperial assimilation policy.


The Center learned of the recent passing of Dora Zaidenweber. Dora Eiger Zaidenweber was born on January 24, 1924 in Radom, Poland. She remembers Germany’s invasion of Poland as being “like something you would see in a movie, but never think would happen to you.” In 1941 Dora and her family were forced into the ghetto where she met her husband Jules Zaidenweber. Dora was later transported to Auschwitz before being evacuated on a forced march to Bergen-Belsen. She was liberated on April 15, 1945 and later reunited with Jules, her father and brother. The Zaidenwebers settled in Minnesota in 1950. Dora was among the Center’s earliest supporters when it was founded in 1997.

Dora has always believed in speaking about her experiences and has educated many young people, teachers, and individuals about the Holocaust. If there is a lesson in the Holocaust, Dora believed it was that if you do nothing and ignore the persecution of others, you are no different than those who perpetrate the crimes. Even this last spring, Dora found time to testify at a Minnesota Senate committee hearing on Holocaust education and a class here at the University.


The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies is concerned over the recent re-escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh), in which Azerbaijan shelled civilian areas of Nagono-Karabakh, resulting in the deaths of over 200 people, with over 400 injured, and 7000 fleeing their homes as Azerbaijan has occupied villages. The attacking of civilian-populated areas is a war crime, violating one of the fundamental rules of international humanitarian law that requires protection of civilians. 

This violence comes in the context of the blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the road linking the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, which Azerbaijan has blocked since December 2022. 120,000 ethnic Armenians have been unable to leave Nagorno-Karabakh. Those that managed to get out early in the blockade are not permitted to return, indicating ethnic cleansing of the area. Humanitarian aid is desperately needed for those living in the enclave, as food, medicine and fuel have depleted as Azerbaijan blocks entry for any supplies. Electricity is intermittent, and only as much as the citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh can get working themselves. Azerbaijan has blocked gas supplies too. No electricity and gas has been a serious issue during the freezing winter, and so it is hoped there will not be another winter like this. A long line of trucks filled with humanitarian aid sits on the Armenian side of the Lachin Corridor. For some time, not even the International Committee of the Red Cross has not been permitted to enter and bring in much-needed supplies such as food and medicine. This is contrary to Azerbaijan’s obligations under international humanitarian law, including Article 10 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.


Rachel is a third-year PhD candidate in the department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch. She received her BS in Commerce & Business Administration and her BA in Foreign Languages and Literature from the University of Alabama in May 2017. She then spent a year abroad in Augsburg, Germany before returning to the University of Alabama to earn her MA in Germanic Studies in May 2020. She moved to Minneapolis in August 2020 in pursuit of her PhD in Germanic Studies with a minor in Moving Image Studies.


The first month of the calendar year happens to include the first of many events to remember the victims of genocide perpetrated by the Nazis and their collaborators. Various events occur around the world, in numerous languages, and have their origins in different geographies, political ideologies, and cultural-linguistic milieus. 

But like every year—for personal and professional reasons—deciding what to say for International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27th) or the more Zionist-laden Yom Hashoah (April 18th), while avoiding what hasn’t already been said, is a challenge. Personally, and as a Jew, I certainly “remember” in a diverse set of ways, and I openly talk about these practices. From regular write-ups for the Center in my professional capacity, to the reading group I run with former students—as we read Yiddish literature in the original on a weekly basis—individual and collective memory acts take place. 

But every year, coterminous events and life experiences inevitably end up shaping the direction of these memory acts, too. This year was no exception. 


Today, we remember those who lost their lives 29 years ago during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. 

Lasting only 100 days, April 7th, 1994, marked the beginning of the Rwandan Genocide in which over 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed as the international community and UN peacekeepers stood by. Emboldened by state-sponsored propaganda and armed with rudimentary weapons, ordinary Rwandans of Hutu ethnicity were mobilized into killing militias. Scholars have estimated that the rate of killing was four times that of Nazi Germany and carried out by 175,000 to 230,000 Hutus. Much has been written about the causes and courses of this tragic event, as well as commemoration practices in Rwanda. But today, in honor of the lives lost, I would like to share with you how some Rwandans work to prevent future genocide in the land of a thousand hills.


Editor’s note: This is the second in our collected statements in response to SF 2442, a bill currently being debated in the Minnesota legislature. If passed, the bill would mandate Holocaust and genocide education in middle and high schools across the state. Please see the earlier post by CHGS Interim Director Joe Eggers for background and context on the bill and Joe’s statement in response. Below is a statement submitted by George D. Dalbo, UMN Ph.D. and High School Social Studies Teacher.

University of Minnesota

Twin Cities Campus

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

College of Education and Human Development

March 20, 2023

Chair Cheryl Youakim

Republican Lead Ron Kresha

Members of the Education Finance Committee;

“Why have we never learned about this before?” This question was asked by a high school junior in my Genocide and Human Rights course just last week as we began learning about the Cambodian Genocide. The student, a second-generation Hmong-American whose family members experienced mass violence and came to the United States as refugees, is often frustrated that, until my course, her education has excluded most of the genocides we are covering in the course. Quite frankly, as her teacher, I am also frustrated and disheartened that most of my students have little knowledge of these events and the broader patterns of genocide. Thus, I am writing to support HF 2685 and Holocaust and genocide education in the State of Minnesota. As both a middle and high school social studies teacher and a scholar in the field of Social Studies Education, I have seen firsthand through my teaching and research the power of Holocaust and genocide education.