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At the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, we are both deeply saddened and profoundly angered by the brutal, horrific murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police. In the face of the continued murder of Black people in Minnesota, across the country, and in many places around the world, we reaffirm our commitments to racial justice and equity.

We recognize that the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and the State of Minnesota were established through the theft of Dakota and Anishinaabe land and the genocide of the Dakota and Anishinaabe peoples. Indeed, the first sins of Indigenous genocide and the enslavement of African Americans laid a foundation for a society built upon and maintained through violence and white supremacy. While it is rare in academia and education that the Transatlantic slave trade or the institutions and legacies of slavery and segregation in the United States are termed genocide, noted genocide scholar Adam Jones wrote that arguments against the label genocide have too often become a tool for denial, “serving to deflect responsibility for one of history’s greatest crimes.” Last week, civil rights attorney Ben Crump wrote in the Washington Post, “And then we hear that nagging thought that keeps coming back and demanding us to face it: How many more deaths have not been captured on video? How long has this been going on without witnesses or documentation? Is this an outlier or is this endemic? And it starts to feel like genocide.” We recommend Crump’s 2019 book, Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.

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This year’s Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is an especially important anniversary. In January, we marked 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Since then, through our programs on and off campus, and in collaboration with the Center for Jewish Studies, we were able to reflect on the scope of the destruction of European Jewry but also on the heroic resistance and the resiliency of the survivors. 

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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]

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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.” 

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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.

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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.

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Editor’s note: A copy of this editorial appeared on MinnPost on October 31st.

The Armenian genocide is an indisputable historical fact. The evidence that Ottoman officials set about on a systematic plan to annihilate its Armenian population is undeniable.

So too is the genocide of Native peoples in the United States, brought on by policies that varied from extermination to forced assimilation. The evidence of this points to “intent to destroy, in whole or in part” (U.N. Genocide Convention definition) the Native American populations in the United States.

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Editor’s Note: This is an updated post from August 2018. The updated version appeared on MinnPost on October 23.

Today the Spanish government removed the corpse of General Francisco Franco from the Valley of the Fallen, a grandiose mausoleum and basilica near Madrid that the Dictator had designed to eternally enshrine his victory in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). After much criticism and legal battles, Franco’s remains were moved to a family tomb in a cemetery in the outskirts of the capital.

Why has it taken so long to remove the body of a dictator from a sanctuary that celebrates his rule? 

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The following offers a recap, an update and another perspective to the Waldsee issue previously discussed in this blog 3/25/3019 by George Dalbo under the title “More than a name… .  The current author discovered the history of the Waldsee name and has remained actively engaged in the Concordia Language Village response.

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Thomas Schmidinger teaches at the University of Vienna in Austria and is both secretary-general of the Austrian Society for the Promotion of Kurdology and coeditor of the Vienna Kurdish Studies Yearbook.

He is an expert on Syria, Iraq, and Iran and the author of a number of books on migration, cultural integration, and the Middle East, several of which have been translated by U.S. publishers.

Dr. Schmidinger was invited by multiple U.S. Universities, institutions, and bookstores to give a series of lectures this September on his newest book, The Battle for the Mountain of the Kurds: Self-Determination and Ethnic Cleansing in the Afrin Region of Rojava (PM Press, 2019). The organizers and publishers worked for months on the book tour, and he had all travel plans and papers in order. Everything was set, or so it seemed.

When Dr. Schmidinger arrived at the boarding area on Thursday September 12th, 2019 for the connecting flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, where he previously spent a year as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota, he was detained and questioned by airline security about his research in Syria, Iraq, and Iran and his travels to these countries. The security personnel expressed their assurances that he would be allowed to board, but they needed to get the go-ahead from Washington, D.C. Then, the unexpected happened.

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