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.


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. 


Last week, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, for their role in the alleged forced transfer of Ukrainian children back to Russia. Putin is the latest in a series of sitting heads of state to be issued an arrest warrant by the ICC since the Rome Statute came into force in 2002, including Omar al-Bashir, who was charged with several crimes, including genocide, in 2008. 

Although the forced transfer of children is explicitly listed as one of the four examples of genocide in the Rome Statute and the UN Genocide Convention, neither Putin nor Lvova-Belova were indicted for genocide. What do the charges mean, and is there any likelihood that Putin or Lvova-Belova will face trial? We asked Dr. Joachim Savelsberg, Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair and Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, what to make of the news. 


This spring, the Minnesota legislature is debating a proposed mandate requiring Holocaust and genocide education in middle and high schools across the state. The proposal comes on the heels of work done in 2021 to increase the presence of the Holocaust and genocide in the revised social studies standards. This bill codifies the language in the standards revision. It establishes a task force of educators, experts, and community members that would work closely with the Minnesota Department of Education to implement requirements. The bill is a joint effort between CHGS and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota & the Dakotas

If passed, Minnesota would join twenty-two other states with similar policies, but with two significant differences. First, unlike most states, our proposed mandate would provide funding for educator training. This would ensure teachers from across the state have equitable access to training and resources regardless of where they live. Second, the language in Minnesota’s proposal is more inclusive than other states, listing Black and Indigenous genocides. Specifically, the language includes “Indigenous dispossession, removal, and genocide.” This legislation would be the first state in the country to include Indigenous genocide. 


Recently, Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has notoriously gone on antisemitic tirades on social and other forms of media. In early October, Ye tweeted that he was going to go “death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.” Shortly thereafter, his Twitter account was removed and he has since gone on multiple podcasts to explain himself. During his interview with Piers Morgan, he argued that his tweets stemmed from signing unfair record deals with “Jewish businessmen.” Going on, he claimed that he cannot be antisemitic due to he himself being Jewish and one of the “12 Lost Tribes of Hebrew.” The notion Ye speaks of is that the 12 Lost Tribes of Hebrew are actually Black, an idea coined by Black preachers during the Jim Crow era to counter the notion that Black Americans were an inferior race. Although the belief is not necessarily antisemitic, the concept has been co-opted by known hate groups. Since Ye’s statements, there has been a large fallout, with Ye losing almost all of his brand deals and affiliations. The statements themselves and the people who still choose to support Ye demonstrate, at best, tolerance for casual antisemitism and, at worst, support for it, in the US. Supporters of Ye have used the First Amendment to argue that his viewpoints are protected by Freedom of Speech and that cancel culture is censoring viewpoints.What they refuse to understand is the breadth of what Ye is stating. People are too slow to realize that antisemitism is another form of racism, and that a man as influential as Ye saying these things is a call to action for some. Just recently, an antisemitic hate group hung a banner over a freeway in Los Angeles that stated “Kanye is right” and proceeded to make a Nazi salute gesture. 


*Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published in the Oral History Journal.

Gelinada Grinchenko, Professor of History at Kharkiv National University, Ukraine, President of the Oral History Association, Ukraine, and Scholar at Risk at the University of Wuppertal, Germany, reflects on her forthcoming book and series of accompanying short films On Kharkiv and ourselves: the city’s fates and experiences in its inhabitants’ oral histories. Gelinada also discusses her experience and role in the context of the current conflict in Ukraine as an oral historian, survivor, and potential storyteller in the future.


Community engagement is vital—now more than ever—for fostering a more inclusive understanding of the liberal arts and sciences in this current world. Following a brief hiatus during the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CLA Engagement Hub (located in Pillsbury Hall) began hosting residencies in 2021-2022. Scholars from the university have since partnered with community members to promote shared interests within the public spaces of both Pillsbury Hall and the larger Twin Cities metro.

In this piece, we are highlighting a recent public art exhibition that features one of the current Engagement Hub residents, Voice to Vision. Professor Feinberg also holds a CLA Engagement Hub residency for the 2022-2023 academic year, and is continuing his collaborative project with various storytellers with connections to the Twin Cities.