Millions upon millions of people have been killed in concentration camps over the last century, and yet I have found myself distracted and angered about recent political debate over semantics: specifically how and when we use the term “concentration camps.”

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez referred to the US government facilities used to hold asylum-seekers as “concentration camps.” Prominent voices publically disagreed with Ocasio-Cortez, saying that only Nazi camps are concentration camps. By using the term for other camps, they said that Ocasio-Cortez dishonored Jewish victims of the Holocaust. 

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum jumped into this debate, too. It implicitly shamed Ocasio-Cortez, writing that one should never analogize contemporary events to the Holocaust; that doing so may offend Holocaust survivors and their families.

There are compelling articles, books, and podcasts which address this issue. Many look at the history of concentration camps across cultures, back to the camps used in the Boer Wars in South Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century, to help us understand that “concentration camps” has consistently been a term that referred to more than the Nazi camps, and that the Nazis themselves adapted the camp technique from other societies, including the United States. You can find a shortlist of relevant links at the bottom of this article.

Understanding this issue by looking across cultures and history is crucial, but the USHMM (and others) specifically invoked Holocaust survivors and their families as potential victims of Ocasio-Cortez. 

They’re referring to me.

The USHMM said that I, a son of a Holocaust survivor, may be hurt by describing US detention facilities as “concentration camps.”

So I’m writing from that lens, as the son of a Holocaust survivor: I disagree with the USHMM, and I believe that the opposite is true: that Jews — and Holocaust survivors specifically — have been hurt precisely by understanding the concepts of the Holocaust and concentration camps to be one and the same.

An Incomplete Story

My father, Victor Vital (ז״ל, 1932-2019, obituary), and his nuclear family escaped into mountain forests where they hid through the duration of the Nazi occupation of Greece. Greek farmers and villagers saved my family from starvation, exposure, and capture. My father survived the Holocaust but never entered a camp, though our large extended family all died in camps.

Following WWII, my family stayed in Greece until the political and social circumstances of the Greek civil war compelled them to get out of Europe. In December 1967, HIAS resettled my parents, my brother and sister, and my grandmother, in Minnesota, where they quickly joined the local Jewish community. My father told the story that at first he didn’t consider himself to be a Holocaust survivor — precisely because he hadn’t been in a concentration camp — until he was at a Holocaust commemoration, and other survivors (and the Jewish community) told him he was also, truly, a survivor.

Victor Vital as a soldier in his youth.

But I didn’t know that story until I was an adult. Within my memory, Victor always described himself as a Holocaust survivor. I was discussing this with my mother, who confided to me that she, like my father, didn’t think of him as the same kind of a survivor as people who were in camps. The Nazi occupation of Greece was devastating, she (and my father) reasoned: “It was bad for all Greeks.”

“Yes,” I said to my mother, “Greek trauma is real. But the Greek Jewish experience was different. It was real, too.”

My mother, Aglaia Vital (ז״ל ,1939-2012), didn’t become a Jew until her adulthood. She remembered being so blonde as a child that Nazi soldiers would come up on the street and give her candy because she presented such an ideal whiteness. That memory was scary for her, and it was one of the least scary wartime stories she told. I’m not weighing traumatic histories against each other — Greeks suffered, starved, rescued, fought fiercely against the Nazi military, and died at their hands — but it’s clear that a Jewish experience was different from hers. My mother didn’t go into hiding; she wasn’t hunted down by an invading army because of her race. My mother’s family did risk their lives, not by themselves hiding, but because my maternal grandparents hid Jews in their home.

Victor with his family. The author, Demetrios, is third from the right.

I recited research to my mother that survivors in hiding weren’t any less traumatized than survivors of camps. I tried to convince her of this, because it upset me, frankly, to hear even my own mother unintentionally downplay the Holocaust trauma that permeated my father’s life — and my family. It wasn’t research that brought her around on the subject, however; it was a story: “Anne Frank was in hiding,” I said to my mother, “and her story is maybe the most well-known Holocaust story. Had she not been killed, would being in hiding have made her any less of a survivor?”

That question helped my mother understand my father’s experience as not “less-than.”


This is more than a family issue. There are negative consequences for the Jewish community when “concentration camps” are understood as synonymous with the Shoah. Less than half of Jewish Holocaust victims were killed in camps. The Nazi camp infrastructure is horrifying. And it need not eclipse the many other ways the Shoah was implemented, like the staggering amount of Jews killed point-blank, in forests, by perpetrators who were not Germans themselves.

To focus on any specific aspect of the Holocaust diminishes awareness of the terrifying whole. Genocide is massive, and genocide is local: a social, human phenomenon, a crime committed up close by regular human beings — not just “evil” ones wearing swastikas. We know that genocide happens with or without camps: the Nazis built over 40,000 camps, but those camps were not required for them to commit genocide: nearly as many Jews were killed in mass shootings as in camps, and we cannot forget that. In the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, it took machetes and radios to kill at a faster rate than during the Holocaust.

If we forget this, we mask how easy it is for anyone of us to be complicit in genocide.

My family was, thankfully, given the privilege to come to this country and live safely — there is no shortage of antisemitism in Europe today. When they landed here, my family did not know that it was a federal crime in the US for Native Americans to practice indigenous religion — until after 1978. A white US government gave a Jewish family from Europe a home, on land that was once Dakota territory while continuing to persecute native people and cultures. To conceive of the mechanisms of the Shoah as remote and historical is to ignore them when we participate in the same, different, atrocities.

Victor with his grandchildren.

Never Forget and Never Again

It is imperative that we make comparisons and connections between past, present, and future, in order to strive to prevent genocide and heal our traumas. We must not allow ownership of semantics to eclipse human experience, to deny the suffering that we perpetrate at our borders and prisons and neighborhoods. 

To allow the memory of Auschwitz to degrade this human experience, weaponizes the memory of the Shoah to harm others today. To use Auschwitz in this way is to demean the victims of the Shoah and those who survived.

Some further reading and listening

  • NPR podcast Code Switch has an episode examining the use of the term “concentration camps” in the context of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War 2. This episode spurred me to write this piece.
  • Timothy Snyder, Yale University history professor and Holocaust scholar, wrote in opposition to the USHMM stance against “Holocaust analogies.” This article summarizes the current debate with many significant references.
  • In this episode, NPR podcast Throughline examined the history of concentration camps, stretching back to the Boer War.

Demetrios Vital is part of the teaching team at the IDEAL Center of the Science Museum of Minnesota. The IDEAL Center’s professional development work is grounded in research on diversity and inclusion, transformative learning, and growing equitable relationships, to work towards a positive vision of our world.  In his current work at the IDEAL Center, Demetrios brings this background forward by examining how we teach and learn in a post-Holocaust society, working to heal relationships and build a more equitable world. Previously, Demetrios worked at CHGS as outreach coordinator and museum associate.

While growing up in Germany in the 1960s and 1970s, being evangelisch meant above all that you were not katholisch and therefore had to wait five years longer for your Confirmation presents. This was a little annoying, but in hindsight, it may qualify as my first encounter with the inner-worldly asceticism that Max Weber describes in The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism. Delayed gratification aside, the German evangelical church at the time came across as benign, even reasonable, open to critical discussion and staffed with laid-back, progressive pastors. It was the seventies after all. Nobody would have spelled evangelical with a capital “E” back then, at least not in Europe. That Protestantism in the US could take on a very different flavor didn’t occur to me until I moved to California in the early 2000s and it was my daughter’s turn for Confirmation class. There was a lot about Satan in the curriculum and all the things you could go to hell for, like not showing up for class at Bethany Lutheran Church.

Satan, really? Back then, the last time I had heard of him was also in the seventies, in a movie theater watching Rosemary’s Baby. Recently, he has been making more headlines, like earlier this year, when the spiritual advisor to the White House and televangelist Paula White prayed for “all Satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now.” And then earlier this month, when Billy Graham’s son Franklin was barred from speaking in the UK about how “Satan managed to pass gay marriage legislation.”

Max Weber traveled through the US in 1904 to study the sociology of religion. Interestingly, Protestants at the time seemed less obsessed with the underworld and more interested in worldly affairs. Weber praised the progressive dynamics of America’s many “voluntaristic sects.” He was impressed by their independence and self-governance and saw them operating as social and economic networks, which, due to their Protestant work ethic, were thriving in a capitalist society. Protestant revival movements like Christian Science, still new at the time and preaching that sickness was a mental error curable by reading the right books, did strike him as odd. However, always the self-assured German professor, Weber predicted that these spiritual aberrations would be swept away by cultural rationalization, secularization and bureaucratization. This, after all, was based on his theory of modern Western society, where scientific understanding replaces belief systems and mythical explanations.

Max Weber in 1894, the year he was appointed professor of economics at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg.

Maybe Weber loved his theory a little bit too much. He would be surprised to find out that instead of becoming rational, disenchanted or versachlicht, almost a third of the US population today identifies as Evangelical and interprets the Bible as a literally true account of the past and unfailing guide to the future. This gets particularly tricky when it comes to the Book of Revelation, which contains all the Evangelicals’ pet themes. Martin Luther found the Apocalypse of John “neither prophetic nor apostolic” and tried to keep it out of the biblical canon. Thomas Jefferson considered the steaming stories about Satan and the Antichrist “ravings of a maniac.” He was particularly disturbed by the promise of a Golden Age on Earth, lasting one thousand years and reserved for faithful Christians who would be spared the preceding “Great Tribulation” by temporarily escaping into Heaven. I find it disturbing too — the last time somebody in Germany promised one thousand years of Paradise, it turned out to be twelve years of hell and Holocaust.

Where does this knack for escapist belief systems in the United States comes from? I guess probably from the very beginning. Sailing to America in 1620 was perfect timing if you wanted to take with you an untainted love for bizarre theological certainties such as the coming 1000-year reign of Jesus Christ. The Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower when the rest of Europe was about to begin a 30-year massacre over whose faith was the right faith. It left half the population dead and the other half with a soberer attitude towards the benefits of religion and rampant self-righteousness. The early Americans missed out on that experience, and unabashed Puritanism survived through the centuries.

Evangelicalism, as we know it today, took off in the 1950s, and Billy Graham played a big role in it. So did TV and later the Internet. In Minnesota, where I live now, one doesn’t need devices to get the gospel, a car will do. When I first moved here twelve years ago, giant billboards on the roadside were merely insisting that Jesus was alive “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Recently, however, the signs have begun to target evolution by showing quotes from the Book of Genesis plastered over photos of planet Earth and by openly discriminating against primates and their developmental potential. I wish animal rights groups would take to court for that! Every time I am commuting on highway 35 between the University of Minnesota Duluth and Twin Cities campuses, I get reminded that Weber’s theory of unstoppable Enlightenment in Western societies is, well, just a theory. What if pastors of any denomination in the US were required, like in other countries, to study theology at a comprehensive university as opposed to stand-alone, obscure seminaries? Teaching that Earth and all creatures on it were created 6,000 years ago becomes more challenging when your colleague next door is a professor of biology. You’d also think twice as a student before believing it when you are surrounded by a diverse group of people and opinions and not just like-minded followers. For now, however, we have to sadly recognize that to a large swath of people in America, the world remains what Max Weber called “an enchanted garden” from which in the not too distant future they will be lifted off into the clouds. Satan, if he existed, would laugh his tail off.

Henning Schroeder is a former vice provost and dean of graduate education at the University of Minnesota. He’s at On Twitter: @HenningSchroed1.

In 2019 I attended a summer workshop for teachers held by the CHGS, titled “Teaching About Genocide.” As part of the workshop, we, along with two Native American activists-teachers, toured the Minnesota State Capitol with a docent. Entering the main chamber of the capitol, our guide gestured toward several portraits of white males who colonized Minnesota. She, an employee of the state, noted they were the men “who discovered Minnesota.” Here, in the most prominent institution of Minnesota government, a guide had normalized colonialism, except the normalization was now being heard by a critical audience. The statement seemed bracingly out of step with our appreciation of multiculturalism, the celebration of ethnic and racial diversity, and acknowledgment of the centrality of indigenous peoples to the shared fabric of American history.

Attendees of the 2019 CHGS Educator Workshop on the Minnesota Capitol dome.

Our workshop helped us, as teachers activate new schemas for understanding colonialism in America. In psychology, a schema is a pattern of thinking organizing categories of information. In one workshop presentation, George Dalbo and Joe Eggers discussed “settler colonialism.” They used the concept as a framework for analyzing historical processes, in particular, the colonialization of indigenous people and land in Minnesota. Dalbo and Eggers noted that settler colonialism involves three stages: removing indigenous peoples, replacing them with settlers, and continually renewing and normalizing such colonialization. The workshop helped me develop a new schema. I spent the rest of the summer considering the continual renewal and normalization of colonialization. In particular, I began seeing how settler colonialism is made both visible and invisible in everyday life.

The Leif Erikson monument in Duluth (Photo courtesy of the author)

Visiting Duluth later that summer, I went to a prominent city park. There I saw a statue of Leif Erikson, which, an inscription said, was sponsored and erected by the Norwegian American League in 1956. After Erikson’s name was the statement, “discoverer of America.” Although there seemed to be attempts at darkening that phrase to be less legible, I saw both how normalizing such a statement otherwise was, and how transparent it was to anyone knowledgeable of settler colonialism. Yet here, the statue and statement stood in 2019, without any information qualifying or contextualizing it.

As Patrick Wolfe (2006) phrased it, “settler colonialism destroys to replace.” Regarding my focus here on monuments, there have been several recent debates about Civil War monuments as celebrations of slavery and racism, and how some feel those monuments should be either removed or contextualized through other plaques, information, or additional monuments. The monuments I saw over the summer celebrating settler colonialism, though, did not seem to be causing much debate. Instead, they seemed to be evidence of the normalization of colonialism, particularly central in Nebraska. One such bronze statue served to minimize the importance of indigenous histories, instead offering settler replacements and framings.

“The Martin Brothers: A Narrow Escape” (Photo courtesy of the author)

Returning to my hometown of Kearney, Nebraska, I focused on a prominent bronze statue at the entrance to the Archway Monument, a prominent tourist attraction on Interstate 80. The statue corresponds to a story told on a nearby plaque, titled “the Martin Brothers ‘A Narrow Escape.’” The statue and plaque commemorate an incident—in 1864, two children of white settlers who were riding a horse seven miles from Doniphan, Nebraska, had been “attacked by Indians,” having been “struck with four arrows,” and “left for dead,” but had survived to tell the “true but harrowing tale.” The phrasing on the plaque is noteworthy—besides the use of the term “Indians,” the plaque notes that Sioux and Cheyenne tribes were trying to “secure” their land. The plaque might have a different spin if, say, the word “defend” was to replace “secure.”

(Photo courtesy of the author)

Through the schema of settler colonialism, other questions about the statue and plaque might emerge: what peoples here are depicted as being attacked? How does an understanding of colonialists as colonialists seem to grow distorted when a statue emphasizes their children as victims of an unprovoked attack? What is the background of those who created the statue? And what is the background of those donating the statue? The statue was made by Dr. David L. Biehl and commissioned by Fred A. Bosselman, both from farming families in Nebraska. Bronze copies of Biehi’s statue are also prominently displayed in central Nebraska at the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, and the Hastings Museum in Hastings (Pore 2012). Fred A. Bosselman, whose family donated the statues, is the founder of Bosselman Truck Plaza in Grand Island. Bosselman Enterprises now owns forty-five Pump & Pantry convenience stores across several states (Bosselman Enterprises 2020).

It makes sense that settlers and their descendants want to celebrate their history, endowing museums and public parks with statues depicting legendary stories and heroes. The problem comes when those statues are prominently displayed at state-sponsored institutions at the expense of other accounts and contextualized histories that would allow visitors also to consider settler colonialism. Simple public acknowledgments of settler colonialism alongside such statues, such as those discussed here, would be a seemingly small, but perhaps important, step toward repairing the dominant group’s relations with indigenous Americans. Such public acknowledgments might also help improve and add complexity to the knowledge citizens have of their country. Such acknowledgments might also perhaps address the guilt that surely underlies bald attempts at erasing and replacing the histories of peoples devastated by colonialism.

Kurt Borchard, Ph.D., is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Nebraska Kearney, where he teaches a course on the Holocaust.  He has written extensively about cultural studies and homelessness.

Biehl, David L.  2013.  The Martin Brothers.  Lincoln, NE: Prairie Muse Books.

Bosselman Enterprises.  2020.  Company History.  Online.  Available:   

Pore, Robert.  2012.  Hall County History Comes to Life as Statue Dedicated at Stuhr Museum.  The Independent (Grand Island). 6 July.

Wolfe, Patrick.  2006. Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native.  Journal of Genocide Research 8(4):387-409.

Max Breger, a doctoral candidate and visiting scholar from the University of Siegen, Germany, was recently hosted by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Breger has been in the United States for the past roughly two months, conducting research on torture committed by U.S. agencies, especially in connection with the larger so-called “War on Terror.” His work is part of a larger comparative research project led by Professor Dr. Katharina Inhetveen. Breger presented on the project and shared initial findings from his work with members of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Mass Violence Studies (HGMV) Interdisciplinary Graduate Group in a talk entitled: “Violent Interrogation, Psychology, and Body Knowledge: Torture in the ‘War on Terror.'” I sat down with Breger for an interview to learn more about the project.*

Max (on the right) with the author.

Dalbo: Could you briefly describe the research project?

Breger: I am working on a sociological research project called “Torture and Body Knowledge,” funded by the German Research Foundation and led by Professor Dr. Katharina Inhetveen at the University of Siegen in central Germany. In the project, we study torture techniques and practices in their political, cultural, and organizational contexts, and compare these across three cases. What I’m doing is focusing on the U.S. case, mainly on torture during the so-called “War on Terror.” But I’m also looking at the historical roots of the torture techniques from the Cold War era and the – mainly psychological – knowledge behind them. The second case is Argentina and Chile and is being researched by another doctoral student, Christina Schütz, who is currently in Chile. The third case – the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia – is researched by Daniel Bultmann, a post-doctoral researcher who has been working on Cambodia for a long time. 

Dalbo: Why were these three cases – Argentina/Chile, Cambodia, and the United States – chosen? What do you hope to get out of a comparative study?

Breger: The idea is that we can learn more about how cultural perceptions of the body affects torture when we compare cases in different political and cultural contexts. The U.S. case and the Latin American cases are particularly interesting to compare because they are connected through U.S. training – mainly by the “U.S. Army School of the Americas” [where Latin American militaries were trained. Since 2001: “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation “]. One question here is, for example, what impact of this training we can find in the torture practices in Chile and Argentina. In contrast, the case of Khmer Rouge in Cambodia is interesting because it is – even though the three cases are all connected in a way – a bigger cultural and political contrast. We have different dimensions that we use to compare our cases, for instance, the image of the enemy.

Dalbo: You mentioned in your talk that there had not been many scholarships around body knowledge and torture in the field of sociology. Could you elaborate on how you understand the connections between body knowledge and torture?

Breger: The concept “body knowledge” combines theories from the sociology of knowledge and sociology of the body. One might argue that sociology had not taken the body seriously enough in social theory for a long time. The concept of “body knowledge” is one attempt to acknowledge the social relevance of the body. Professor Inhetveen’s idea was to connect this concept with the sociology of violence through an empirical study. Body knowledge can be both incorporated knowledge and discursive knowledge. On the one hand, this means embodied knowledge that is non-theoretical and that we cannot easily express verbally, and on the other hand, discursive knowledge concerning the body, such as medical knowledge. Body knowledge is culturally diverse, even though the body’s material reality limits its cultural constructability. Body knowledge can differ in different cultural contexts. For us, this means that perceptions of the body have an impact on the torture practice, how torturers address the body, and how they and the tortured experience their own and each other’s bodies. For example, there might be differing ideas of where a specific person is vulnerable, depending on different images of the enemy that we find in our cases. Torture itself produces body knowledge in the sense that the torturer experiences his own and the victim’s body in new ways and produces knowledge, which, for example, can be shared with colleagues or can be worked into training manuals, such as those created by the CIA during the Cold War era. At the same time, the tortured experiences his or her body in a new way, both in the moment of torture and through the long-term effects. One example of discursive body knowledge is the professional psychological knowledge that I find in many documents concerning the U.S. case.

Dalbo: Could you talk a little bit about the research that you have been doing over the past seven or eight weeks in the United States?

Breger: I have been mainly in New York, Maryland, and Washington D.C. In New York, I talked to NGO lawyers, who are working on cases related to torture during the “War on Terror.” Then, I did some research at the National Archives in College Park and D.C. I was looking for documents from the Cold War-era concerning how military intelligence personnel and psychologists working for the U.S. military were conducting research on ‘enemy communist interrogation’ containing torture. I was especially interested in interviews with returned U.S. Prisoners of War from the Korean and the Vietnam Wars. My question here is: how exactly is this knowledge connected to the torture techniques used in the “War on Terror”? This connection, however, is not a new finding by me. You will find many references in the literature, most prominently in Alfred McCoy’s books. Still, I want to take a closer look at how this knowledge transfer happened – with our specific research questions in mind.

Dalbo: Could you share a few takeaways from the research you have conducted in the United States so far?

Breger: The lawyers I was talking to mentioned how important accountability and acknowledgment were for the torture survivors they were working with. This seems to be important for the healing process. What surprised me was that, according to the lawyers, many survivors still had a kind of trust or at least hope in the legal process and the rule of law in the USA, even though they had been tortured by U.S. officials, and real accountability has been very rare so far. One important exception to this lack of accountability was a lawsuit by the ACLU against the two psychologists working for the CIA, Mitchell and Jessen.

Dalbo: Is there something about conducting this research now, in 2019, in this present moment?

Breger: Yes, for me, it is interesting to work on the U.S. case now, because more and more documents have been declassified in the last few years due to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, most importantly the Senate report [in 2014]. The Mitchell and Jessen lawsuit [settled in 2017] also led to the declassification of relevant documents.

Christina, who is in Chile right now, and before that was in Argentina, has been experiencing the conflicts that have been going on there. She has found many references from the protestors to the past dictatorship that she is studying. Also interesting is that it is currently not possible to reach the SOA Watch [School of Americas Watch] website from Chile. We do not know if it was blocked intentionally. SOA Watch has a list of past graduates from the School of the Americas. Christina was only able to access the website through the VPN client from our university in Germany.

Dalbo: What are the goals for the study?

Breger: The goals for the research are to get a better understanding of the interrelations between cultural body knowledge and torture and the dynamics of torture from a sociological perspective in general. In the long term, our hope is that, through this understanding, we can help to prevent torture.

*Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

George Dalbo is the Educational Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and a Ph.D. student in Social Studies Education at the University of Minnesota with research interests in Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education. Previously, he was a middle and high school social studies teacher, having taught every grade from 5th-12th in public, charter, and independent schools in Minnesota, as well as two years at an international school in Vienna, Austria.

Huether. Heether. Heather. Hoother. Hutter. Huewther.

“Hütter, you’re German, right?”

No, its Huether. Sounds like Heether.

“Ah, American,” she answers with a slight chuckle.

With the simple change in the pronunciation of my surname, the panel chair was able to identify my nationality, and in so doing, indirectly created a border between us. She was German, and perhaps I could have passed as German as well, if only I had gone along with her pronunciation – the one I knew was the “correct” form of my surname but not my name. Regardless, her comment made me pause and think: how could such a slight pronunciation change signify so much? As soon as I was marked as an American, a corpus of assumptions and stereotypes became accessible. It’s not to say that such a corpus would not be present if I were German; it would be, but it would simply be a different corpus. 

I thought about the aforementioned experience in Munich at the Lessons and Legacies Conference even more after my visit to the Jewish Museum Munich and its current exhibit Say Shibboleth!. Co-curated by the Jewish Museum Munich and the Jewish Museum Hohenems, the exhibit explores visible and invisible borders and is founded on the story of the word “Shibboleth” from the book of Judges in the Hebrew Bible: 

“And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephramite? If he said, Nay; Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.” [1]

In the story, the semantics of “Shibboleth” are null, and all that matters is how it sounds when one pronounces it. As the Ephramite leaves out the “h” and instead pronounces Sibboleth, he affirms that he is not a Gileadite, and thus his life is taken. It may seem strange that a simple pronunciation may be what separates one from life or death, and certainly the mispronunciation of my last name held no such implications. What these two examples do share, however, is how pronunciation can construct forms of difference. 

Every society—and yes, I am employing a massive generalization here—cultivates understandings and assumptions of both a society’s insiders and their outsiders. Such stereotyping can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, how one dresses could be a clear indication of an outsider position; yet, on the other hand, it could also be used against an insider, as not being insider enough. 

Why does any of this matter? How we speak, how we dress, how we judge other people? It matters because these factors are what we use to put up invisible borders. Those whom we accept within our friend groups, our group messages, our Facebook and Instagram feeds, etc. Merely wearing headphones on public transportation could be considered as performing a border: one is listening to their music, the border blocks out the rest of the world. Whom one accepts as a Facebook friend compared to those they don’t signify a personal border– a border that extends even further between those friends allowed to appear in one’s feed versus those one “hides.” Social media allows us to border what we see, hear, and read. You don’t like Fox News? Just block it. Did you disagree with that friend’s political post? Just unfriend them. 

We police personal borders in a multiplicity of ways, and in the world of advanced technology and social media, new borders we never even imagined are emerging. Have you ever considered the two-party system as border separating American citizens? And even further, isn’t the voice of an “academic” bracketed off, identified for its particularly dense use of language (only partially serious with this), a certain application of language that only we as academics can understand? Dialectic. Zeitgeist. Adumbrate. Vituperate. Pernicious. Lacuna.


I’ve been called a snob on more than one occasion for my academics, a background that stands in stark contrast to my Montana upbringing. I grew up in a small town in rural Montana with a graduating class of 23 students. In the past, I’ve resented this association, but thinking through it, I wonder: do I create an invisible border with my “academic talk?” How are we to have a conversation if all we do is speak, and no one listens? Is our work in academia helping if really only a small circle of people can engage with it? 

2020 is an election year, and regardless of your party affiliations, I encourage you to engage in conversation. Does your family insist that Bernie is a socialist? Then discuss and converse about what socialism means, for each person, in a way that each person can understand. 

Stereotypes exist. A multiplicity of invisible borders exists across the United States in a variety of forms ranging from speech, education, dress, religion, etc. But we are all American. Let’s talk to each other again. Listen and learn from our differences. 

Kathryn Agnes Huether is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology with a graduate minor in Cultural Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is currently an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Her dissertation examines the myriad of Holocaust ‘voices’ specifically for sonic qualities and their resulting effects. 

  [1] Judges 12:6

In the past two decades, we have witnessed a steady expansion of interest, beyond Jewish institutions, by the number of government officials willing to introduce and participate in some form or fashion in public observances of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Commemorations are now held in more than 35 countries on January 27th, the day on which, in 1945, Soviet troops liberated the largest Nazi death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. 

This broader initiative of reflecting on the cataclysmic implications of this singular historical event and the lessons that can be applied for a global audience has generated extraordinary interest. Still, it also poses significant challenges in how this tragedy is recounted. There is both faithfulness to preserving the historical specificity of the Shoah (the destruction that befell European Jewry) and a need to broaden how this tragedy is defined to encompass and acknowledge non-Jewish victims of the Nazi regime. Moreover, the commemorations are sometimes organized to pay respect to all those who have suffered genocides or crimes against humanity. 

We often hear that the only proper and “good” use of the past is for purposes that transcend ethnic, religious, or national barriers. It is the “exemplary memory,” which author Tzvetan Todorov wrote about, which is different from a recollection that does not lead beyond itself, of the affected group. While the January 27th commemorations aim to render the Holocaust or its lessons easily relatable to all people, it ignores an irrefutable sociological axiom. Namely, that all collective memory is essentially group-based since the remembered events happened to individuals in specific groups, and those groups endow that past with a particular meaning. The need to package exemplary and abstract memory to appeal to everyone risks diluting facts that are complex, sometimes uncomfortable, and often resist emotional uplift. 

Historian Enzo Traverso pointed out recently that in the 21st century, the Holocaust is presented as a secular theodicy, a grand moral tale that pits almost pure goodness versus absolute evil. Traverso’s critique is somewhat overblown. Still, he pushes us to look beyond the slogans and the hashtags and to rethink the ways to remember the Holocaust meaningfully.

Last year, while I was on sabbatical in Madrid, I attended the International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony that took place in the Spanish Senate. Foreign Minister Josep Borrel recalled in his address that as a child, every Good Friday, he and his friends used to run down the streets of his village in the Catalan Pyrenees with torches and rattles. And they were shouting “a matar jueus!” (kill the Jews). That Easter tradition was nothing other than the theatrical re-enactment of a pogrom. 

Borrel had boldly chosen to bypass the standard watchwords and warnings that typically allows those in attendance to put themselves above it all, at a significant and safe distance from one of the 20th century’s defining tragedies. Instead, he shared his personal memory of a moment where he was closer to the perpetrators than the victims. That lesson cut deep in the audience.

Alejandro Baer, Ph.D., is an associate professor of sociology and the Stephen C. Feinstein Chair and Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

On the morning of August 5th, 2019, 8 million residents of Kashmir awoke to severed cellphone, landline, internet, and cable television services. Days before, 40,000 Indian troops were deployed into Kashmir, in addition to the hundreds of thousands already stationed in the region. Tourists, non-resident students, and Hindu pilgrims were forced to leave. Kashmiris knew that something catastrophic lay in the near future. And something catastrophic did: on August 6th, the BJP, India’s ruling Hindu-nationalist party, revoked Article 370, stripping Kashmir of the autonomous status it had held since 1954[1]. News outlets across the globe rushed to cover the flashpoint crisis, with Aljazeera going so far as to release a page that offered daily updates on the situation[2]

In mid-August, the UN Security Council convened over Kashmir, a topic that they had avoided discussing since 1971. The outcome of this long-overdue discussion? Not much. Over 120 days later, the catastrophe continues, yet the media and humanitarian coverage wane. Independent reports find that around 13,000 boys have been detained since August.[3] Schools, colleges, shops, and malls remain largely closed, and those that have opened struggle to operate. The internet blackout stretches on to its fifth month. However, the phrase “normalcy returns to Kashmir” swirls through headlines, replacing alarm bells with apathy. For a brief moment in September, the discourse surrounding India’s aggression in Kashmir featured the question of genocide. Now, pundits would declare the suggestion to be absurd. Indeed, no mass killing occurred. The lack of official and comprehensive figures on arrests and detainments confound claims of forcible transfer and separation. Are Pakistan’s warnings of genocide merely a product of decades of geopolitical rivalry and hostility towards India? Is the Kashmir crisis a bilateral issue? Would intervention violate national sovereignty? More questions circulate than answers. The compass of morality points nowhere. We will take comfort in this alleged return to normalcy. We will shield ourselves from responsibility by wallowing in our doubts. We will tell ourselves that intervention would be unwarranted. 

Furthermore, if history tells us anything, we would be wrong. US ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau urged the US government to take action as the Armenian genocide unfolded. The US refused to intervene, citing its desire to respect Turkey’s sovereignty and remain neutral[4]. The US and UK had been comprehensively briefed on Nazi extermination of European Jews as early as 1942, yet took no military action until 1945[5]. In 1994, the US not only refused to assist in humanitarian de-escalation efforts in Rwanda, but instead led efforts to actively remove UN peacekeepers stationed in Rwanda, blocked authorization of UN reinforcements, shied away from the term “genocide,” and allowed radio broadcasts inciting genocide against Tutsis to continue airing while possessing technology that could jam them. 

To be clear, the crisis in Kashmir is not a genocide. Not yet. Nevertheless, it should not need to be for the UN and other international actors to take action. Beyond Rebecca Hamilton’s assertion in the “G Word Paradox” that branding a situation as “genocide” triggers no immediate response, Kashmir’s decades-long profound vulnerability should be enough to compel states to act. The territorial dispute between India and Pakistan has forced the region into an existential limbo that leaves them beholden to the whims of both state powers, each of whom claims Kashmir fully as their own. While the internet blackout imposed this August constitutes the most extensive, Kashmir has experienced 53 internet shutdowns in 2019 alone[6], and more in 2018[7]. Pakistan-administered Kashmir has been functionally integrated into Pakistan (a move that many say is supported by the Kashmiris), while India’s abrogation of Article 370 in India-Administered Kashmir constitutes a flashpoint in a series of gradual tightenings of India’s hold. In fact, since 1989, over 67,000 Kashmiris have been killed.[8] Modi continues to hide behind a framework of interpretive denial, claiming that India’s aggression will promote economic prosperity and curb extremism[9]. The international community may temporarily take solace in these nicely-packaged justifications of human rights violations, yet this present inaction may stretch into another stain on the fabric of modernity. Those who lived during it will say that they wish they had known. Those who will learn about it will call it an aberration. Moreover, the Angel of History will perceive it as a “single catastrophe which keeps piling.” Kashmir has always been vulnerable, but now its vulnerability has reached a flashpoint. We can shield ourselves in doubt and denial, or we can take action before the crisis in Kashmir escalates to the point of no return. 

Tala Alfoqaha is a third-year student at the University of Minnesota double majoring in Mathematics and Global Studies with a regional focus in the Middle East and a thematic focus in human rights and social justice. In 2019, she was awarded the Human Rights Program’s Don Fraser Fellowship, and spent a summer interning at The Advocates for Human Rights in their International Justice program. She currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of The Wake Magazine, a student-run publication, and in her capacity as a student hopes to further pursue studies of mass-violence and ethnic cleansing, with a particular interest in the present-day implications of settler-colonialism on indigenous populations.

  [1] The U.N. Can’t Ignore Kashmir Anymore

[2] Kashmir under lockdown: All the latest updates

[3] Young boys tortured in Kashmir clampdown as new figures show 13,000 teenagers arrested

[4] The Great Crime

[5] Allied forces knew about Holocaust two years before discovery of concentration camps, secret documents reveal

[6] ‘I’m just helpless’: Concern about Kashmir mounts as communication blackout continues

[7] Internet Shutdowns

[8] 13 Killed As Violence Surges in Kashmir

[9] India Is Slowly Easing Its Lockdown in Kashmir. But Life Isn’t Returning to Normal

Two weeks ago I met with a community leader whose own community was devastated by a genocide that happened decades ago in a place halfway around the world. We talked about how his community marks the event, the pain its survivors continue to experience and the challenge of getting his new neighbors to care about something so foreign to them. One of the things he mentioned struck a chord with me: “Recognition is about completing the fabric of our wider community.” To him, recognizing genocide was not simply about recognizing the painful past of his people, but recognizing the shared humanity that ties us all together.

Two weeks ago the Armenian community finally had their story recognized. Following three weeks of White House-backed challenges, the Senate joined the House in calling the mass killings of Armenians a century ago genocide. The resolution officially calls for remembrance and to combat “denial of the Armenian Genocide or any other genocide” and “to encourage education and public understanding of the facts of the Armenian Genocide, including the role of the United States in humanitarian relief efforts, and the relevance of the Armenian Genocide to modern-day crimes against humanity.” 

This is an enormous victory for the Armenian community, and the result of decades of organizing and the mobilization of Armenian-Americans across the country, including those here in the Twin Cities. Federal recognition of the Armenian genocide fixes a historical wrong and will, hopefully, provide solace for the descendants of victims and survivors, many of which make up nearly the entirety of the Armenian-American community in the Twin Cities. Now that the painful history of the Armenian people is officially recognized it too is a part of the community fabric. 

When our Representative, Ilhan Omar, chose to vote “present” during the House’s vote on recognizing the Armenian genocide, I wrote that recognizing one genocide helps provide a basis for understanding other episodes of mass violence. It’s a common thought among many communities with shared histories as victims of genocide or mass violence: the idea that a better understanding of their traumatic pasts helps us not only understand the contemporary horrors of places like Syria, Myanmar and elsewhere, but also emboldens us to respond to these crises rather than resigning ourselves to the apparent inevitability of history repeating itself. In much the same way that communicating their stories helps weave a more complete fabric of the Twin Cities, the shared experience of genocide seemingly creates its own sense of a wider community globally.  

Recognizing the Armenian genocide was long overdue, and while we should relish in correcting this historical injustice, we should also be celebrating the opportunity for more communities striving for the chance to deliver their own stories. Until then, our community story will be left incomplete. 

From the Bridges of Memory kick-off event.

Throughout this year, the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies has committed itself to empowering communities to share their histories and experiences. The Bridges of Memory project aims to connect survivor communities with resources at the university but also, more importantly, with other survivors of mass violence and genocide. 

In my meeting with the community leader last week, he talked about the pervasive feeling in his community that they are cursed, that they’d done something to deserve genocide, and that it was his mission to convince his community that their story wasn’t unique. The unfortunate reality is that it isn’t. Many communities in the Twin Cities have been irrevocably damaged by episodes of genocide and mass violence. It’s time we weave their stories into our collective fabric.

Joe Eggers is the research and outreach coordinator for the Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.

I acknowledge that the University of Minnesota Twin Cities stands on Miní Sóta Makhóčhe, the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary Homelands of Dakhóta Oyáte. The University occupies land that was cared for and called home by Dakota peoples from time immemorial. Ceded in the treaties of 1837 and 1851, I acknowledge that this land has always held, and continues to hold, great spiritual and personal significance for Dakota. By offering this land acknowledgment, I recognize the sovereignty of Dakota, and I acknowledge, support, and advocate for Indigenous individuals and communities who live here now, and for those forcibly removed from their Homelands. I will continue to raise awareness of Indigenous peoples, histories, and cultures in my work, especially within social studies education, and I will continue to work to hold the University of Minnesota accountable to Dakota and other Indigenous peoples and nations. It is my sincere hope that the curriculum project discussed below will serve as a catalyst for recognizing and unsettling settler colonial narratives in social studies classrooms across Minnesota, especially sixth-grade Minnesota Studies classes.

In mid-August of 1862, the Pioneer and Democrat, as short-lived settler newspaper printed in St. Paul, Minnesota ran an article with the headlines:

“Terrible Indian Raid.
The Frontier Desolated
The Inhabitants Murdered
Shocking Barbarities.”

The article, a mix of news and editorial content common in early reporting, stated: “We can no longer shut our eyes to the fact that the Sioux Indians have commenced a war upon the settlements of our own frontier, and have massacred hundreds of men, women, and children.” Such accounts of what would come to be called the “Sioux Massacre” became the first rough drafts of the history of the war. Indeed, one of the earliest published histories of the war, Isaac Heard’s History of the Sioux War and Massacres, published by Harper and Brothers of New York in 1863, draws on reporting from, among other newspapers, the Pioneer and Democrat.

One hundred fifty years later, in mid-August of 2012, the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a series titled: “In the Footsteps of Little Crow: 150 Years After the U.S.-Dakota War.” One article featured headlines quoting Taoyateduta (often known as Little Crow), a leader of the Dakota during the war:

“‘When men are hungry, they help themselves’

With his people starving and treaty payments too late to help, Little Crow is pushed toward war. A bloody confrontation lights the fuse.”

Such headlines seem to suggest a marked shift, both in terms of language and narrative, in how the U.S.-Dakota War is popularly portrayed, at least within the media.

What might these two articles, written 150 years apart, tell us about how popular narratives and collective memories of the U.S.-Dakota War have shifted over time in Minnesota? Take, for example, the shift from earlier articles that suggest an unprovoked “massacre” of Euro-American settlers to the later recognition of the continued maltreatment of the Dakota, who are ultimately “pushed to war.” Do shifting accounts of the war, as reflected in media reporting, mimic changing public memories and attitudes within the state, especially among non-Indigenous Minnesota’s, or are they simply examples of settler-constructed narratives shifting strategically over time to maintain settler dominance over land and ensure a “settler futurity” for generations to come?

These questions were central to a project led by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies’ Director, Professor Alejandro Baer , and Research and Outreach Coordinator, Joe Eggers, who, along with a undergraduate and graduate student researchers, gathered and analyzed hundreds of newspaper articles from Minnesota River Valley and the Twin Cities newspapers at 25-year intervals from 1862 to 2012. The aim of the project was to better understand how the U.S.-Dakota War has been remembered over time, with each generation, and space in Minnesota.

Using the rich data from this project, with additional funding from a Minnesota Legacy Grant, and in keeping with the CHGS’s  mission of educational outreach, I was asked to think about how the newspapers collected and analyzed during the project might be made available and useful for teachers and students. The result is a curriculum, “From the ‘Sioux Massacre’ to the ‘Dakota Genocide’: Minnesota’s ‘Forgotten War’ in the State’s Newspapers from 1862 to 2012, which was designed to supplement a study of the U.S.-Dakota War in sixth-grade social studies classes.  

The curriculum is organized around a single-day core lesson plan, which was designed to be taught in one roughly-50-minute class period. This core lesson introduces students to examples of newspaper headlines from the Minnesota River Valley and Twin Cities, allowing them to catalog and analyze how the narratives of the war have varied over time and space.

Additional two and three-day lesson plans offer teachers and students the opportunity to extend the core lesson for deeper content and skills development through reading and analyzing examples of full-length articles and analyzing data form the project in the form of graphs and charts. Each lesson encourages students to engage in an attentive and thoughtful reading of newspaper articles as primary source documents, developing critical media literacy skills.

As I began to work on developing the curriculum, what I was most drawn to was the possibility for “authentic learning,” in which students would construct knowledge through the use of disciplinary-based inquiry that would also have value beyond the classroom. I imagined students doing work – reading and analyzing newspapers to draw conclusions about narratives of the U.S.-Dakota War – which would be very similar to the work that had been done by academics and student researchers at the University of Minnesota. This authentic work, involving qualitative research and analysis, would help them to understand the shifting nature of historical narratives over time.

However, despite the exciting possibilities for teachers and students to engage with this authentic learning, the curriculum should be taken up with a note of caution. First, the lessons, by and large, fail to bring much needed Dakota (and other Indigenous) voices and perspectives into the classroom, often framing the Dakota (and, to a lesser extent, settler) as perpetually static, monolithic, and opposing groups. Additionally, many earlier newspaper articles not only lack Dakota perspectives, but they are also filled with derogatory language, such as “red skins” or “savages,” which, without careful introduction and contextualization, could easily further perpetuate hurtful stereotypes. However, this fairly blatant derogatory language is perhaps less concerning than the more subtle erasure of Indigenous voices and perspectives within the narratives developed within the articles. These newspaper articles, after all, represent a settler archive, where even the more recent articles from 2012 were written by non-Indigenous authors and very often still lack Dakota voices. This provides a challenge for teachers and students to engage with these articles critically and read them not only for what is present but also for what is absent in the reporting and editorializing.

As with any study of history, students studying the U.S.-Dakota War should be pushed to examine sources and narratives critically and continuously ask questions to nuance their understanding of events and peoples. Despite its limitations, examining the shifting settler narratives of the U.S.-Dakota War over time and space within Minnesota may help students better understand the roots of contemporary debates, such as those to rename Historic Fort Snelling or Bde Make Ska, and become more thoughtful consumers of media.

Download the full curriculum: “From the ‘Sioux Massacre’ to the ‘Dakota Genocide’: Minnesota’s ‘Forgotten War’ in the State’s Newspapers from 1862 to 2012. We are especially interested in hearing about your and your students’ experiences with the curriculum. Send any feedback to George Dalbo at

George Dalbo is the Educational Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and a Ph.D. student in Social Studies Education at the University of Minnesota with research interests in Holocaust, genocide, and human rights education. Previously, he was a middle and high school social studies teacher, having taught every grade from 5th-12th in public, charter, and independent schools in Minnesota, as well as two years at an international school in Vienna, Austria.

Editor’s Note: A copy of this editorial appeared on MinnPost on November 18th.

In Spain, the far-right were also-rans, effectively discredited and shunned in mainstream circles and government affairs since the end of the Francoist period in the mid-1970s. Those days are long gone.

Vox, which promotes itself as the “patriotic alternative,” burst onto the national scene late last year in the elections in the southern region of Andalucía, sending shockwaves through Spanish politics. In the wake of this political upheaval came the general election in April, where the ultranationalist party received just over 10% of votes and won 24 seats in the 350-seat Parliament. That election resulted in no clear majority and plunged the country into another round of voting. In the Nov. 10 election, Vox more than doubled its previous results. Now 52 seats strong, Vox has become the third-largest political force in the country.

Far-right party VOX leader Santiago Abascal addressing the media at their headquarters the day after general elections, in Madrid, Spain, on Nov. 11. via Reuters

Rise is primarily tethered to the Catalan question

What does Vox stand for? And what explains this seismic shift in the Spanish political landscape? Vox shares many ideological traits with other right-wing populist parties in Europe that have gained traction in Austria, Italy, Germany or France — nationalism, anti-immigration, and Islamophobia — but the situation in Spain has its own peculiarities. Whereas most European far-right parties flourished in the wake of the financial crisis or the influx of refugees, Vox’s rapid rise is primarily tethered to the Catalan question. Seizing on growing agitation with regard to these political developments, Vox proposes to abolish regional autonomy and parliaments. This hard-line centralism has resonated strongly among voters after the separatist push in Catalonia and ongoing deadlock and instability in the region. Vox has anointed itself as the true savior of the country’s unity.

While reining in Catalonia is a core element in Vox’s political platform, its anti-migrant rhetoric is also unambiguous. They champion the idea of “Españoles primero” (Spaniards first), and spread falsehoods about a government bent on prioritizing migrants and discriminating against Spanish nationals. Their leaders traffic in familiar conspiracy theories. For instance, Vox’s leader, Santiago Abascal, likes to attribute Spain’s woes to the Hungarian Jewish philanthropist George Soros. On Twitter, he accused Soros of bankrolling illegal mass immigration (mirroring the myth propagated by populist leaders in Europe and by President Trump in the U.S.). Moreover, Vox points a finger at Soros as a driving force behind Catalan separatism.

Fixation with Muslim immigrants

The arrival of Muslim immigrants in the country is portrayed by Vox as an invasion. This fixation with Muslim immigrants dredges up age-old prejudices, which Vox resurrects for its own warped purposes. The party understands its political quest as a “reconquista” (reconquest), and in an act suffused with symbolism kicked off its April election campaign in Covadonga, in the northern region of Asturias, where the Christian King Don Pelayo defeated Muslim troops in the year 722. “We will not ask for forgiveness for our symbols, even if others are ashamed of them,” Abascal declared on that occasion. Vox’s populist politics call for an emboldened, unapologetic embrace of Spanish and Catholic identity. This identity is also under threat, they claim, due to “gender ideology” and “the dictatorship of progressive politics.”

While some of the elements noted above echo the Franco regime’s (1939-1975) National-Catholic precepts, Vox is neither openly nostalgic about the Franco dictatorship nor cut-and-dried fascist. Also taking its cues from other far-right parties in Europe, Vox is gaining popular support thanks to a strategic facelift that renounces or downplays some of its less socially acceptable ideas. For example, signs of explicit antisemitism and Holocaust denial are monitored closely and addressed by the party’s leadership. For the April elections, Vox nominated as a congressional candidate Fernando Paz, a journalist and right-wing historian who questioned the scope of the Shoah. After this became public, Vox backed down and replaced the candidate. ​

Vox also supports the state of Israel, and here as well the Spanish party falls in line with others in this new wave of European far-right parties (the German AfD, for instance, recently brought forward a motion calling for a complete ban of the Palestinian-led BDS movement, the campaign promoting a boycott of Israel). They see Israel as an ethno-national project to follow, hyping Israel as an implacable stronghold of civilization against the Islamic world.

An aura of legitimacy

Many Spaniards thought that the Franco regime’s demise had immunized the country against the scourge of the far right. This was wishful thinking. Vox can now flex its power in the Parliament, and the party’s positions are being granted an aura of legitimacy. Given the elections outcome, with the win of Socialists, the party will likely have no say in the next government’s formation. Vox, however, already has leverage in influencing policies in Madrid and Andalucía, where the party’s votes were instrumental for the formation of new conservative regional governments led by the center-right People’s Party and Ciudadanos (Citizens). The ball is now in the conservatives’ hands. Will they continue to sugarcoat Vox’s noxious ideas to obtain their support? What price will Spanish society pay for this Faustian bargain?

Alejandro Baer, Ph.D., is an associate professor of sociology and the Stephen C. Feinstein Chair and Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota.