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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. 

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There are some odd places in Germany’s Deep South that are strangely attractive to American tourists. For one, there is the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler’s Alpine refuge, which, not too long ago, one of my university colleagues cheerfully described as the high point of his German sightseeing tour; on TripAdvisor the Eagle’s Nest gets just as many thumbs-up as Austria’s Sound of Music tour. Growing up in 1970s Germany, I don’t remember anyone using the term “Eagle’s Nest” or Adlerhorst, probably because political winds were steadily blowing left and pilgrimage to Nazi remnants wasn’t a thing. Another southern tourist attraction—less creepy but still weird enough—is Bavaria’s fairy tale castle Neuschwanstein. A kitsch monster from the 19th century, it was designed by Mad King Ludwig who never, even in his wildest hallucinations, imagined that one day it would be lifted into the corporate logo of the Walt Disney company and become the go-to castle for Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

It was only recently that northern Germany came up with an answer to these architectural challenges from the south, which is no less Disneyesque than Neuschwanstein and historically at least as unappetizing as the Eagle’s Nest. It’s a replica of the Royal Prussian Palace planted in the middle of Berlin, home to Germany’s last kaiser whose madness was far more consequential for world politics than Ludwig’s. Kaiser Wilhelm’s passion was world domination, not building fairy tale castles, and WWI was a direct result of his imperial hubris. In the end the Kaiser’s empire collapsed, but his palace didn’t. It even remained more or less intact through the next world war and another failed attempt at world domination, this time by the owner of the Eagle’s Nest. And yes, this all sounds like the typical plot for 007 movies: supervillains living in fancy hideouts trying to bring the planet under their control. Even the grand finale could have been taken from a James Bond novel: the Kaiser’s palace was spectacularly blown to bits with dynamite like Auric Goldfinger’s volcano lair in You Only Live Twice. The palace’s lucky streak was over when it ended up on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, in Berlin’s Soviet Sector, where feudal architecture didn’t have many fans. Later, the communists would proudly claim responsibility for the Big Bang that finished off Prussia’s history and its most visible symbol. Once and for all, so they thought.

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*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.

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The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the UMN School of Music had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Badema Pitic in March for a talk titled “Remembering Through Music: The Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnian izvorna Songs.” Watch a recording of the talk here. I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Pitic about her research on music, transitional justice, and reconciliation in post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Dr. Badema Pitic is a Head of Research Services at the USC Shoah Foundation – Institute for Visual History and Education. She earned her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology in 2017 from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on the intersections of music, memory, and politics in the aftermath of war and genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Her research interests also include oral history and testimony, transitional justice, and perpetrators’ music.

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Visitors facing the entrance to Envisioning Evil: “The Nazi Drawings” by Mauricio Lasansky are offered only one glimpse of what they can expect if they choose to enter: a decorated Nazi officer raises his arm in a Hitler salute while blood-like drops fall from his wrist and smear the page. On his head is a terrifying bestial skull that appears both fixed and projected on the man’s scalp. A close look reveals smudges, partial erasures, hard pencil strokes, and tears to the paper. This work is steeped in rage.

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While Serbia does not share a direct border with Ukraine, it is close enough that when the fighting broke out I immediately called my Serbian relatives on Viber to ask what they had heard about the conflict and what was happening on the ground. In contrast to the overwhelmingly anti-Russian reactions shared on Western media, my Serbian relatives expressed a more lukewarm attitude towards the Russian side. They explained reasonably that Ukraine is growing closer to the West and Putin does not like that, so he is trying to persuade Ukraine to come back over to his side. My relatives repeated the Serbian government’s narrative that Serbia is a “neutral country” that does not want to take sides in the conflict, a position they view in a positive light. This narrative of neutrality is being used by the Serbian government to justify its refusal to impose sanctions and take a stronger anti-Russian stance. 

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