Over the years I have asked educators to provide me with a definition of the Holocaust. Much to my surprise no matter what state I was in, whether it was Minnesota, Tennessee or California, I have heard several different answers. Numbers of dead ranged from 6 to 12 million and several victim groups were covered under the term.
In June 2013, it was revealed after an investigation by the Associated Press that local Ukrainian immigrant and retired Minnesota carpenter, 95-year-old Michael Karkoc, allegedly served as a top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit accused of burning Polish villages and killing innocent civilians during WWII. Evidence surfaced that Karkoc entered the United States illegally in 1949 by concealing his role as an officer and founding member of the infamous Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. more...
“The Jews are our misfortune!” (Die Juden sind unser Unglück!). This was always the tag line on the cover page of Der Stürmer, a Nazi weekly tabloid published between 1923 and 1945. The editor of this incendiary paper, Julius Streicher, was tried and sentenced to death on October 1st 1946 at the Nuremberg Tribunal. The judgment against him read, in part:
“… In his speeches and articles, week after week, month after month, he infected the German mind with the virus of anti-Semitism and incited the German people to active persecution…”
On April 16, 17 & 19, the Institute for Global Studies, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Human Rights Program held a series of events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide that took the lives of an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The events included a public conference, a student conference, and a K-16 teacher workshop.
As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda questions surrounding justice, commemorating the victims, and lessons learned take center stage. With regards to justice, events in Germany and in France in the past two months demonstrate that persistence and international cooperation often work to ensure justice is served to those affected by genocide and mass violence. Two trials have just ended in these two countries that will certainly put Hutu fugitives living in Europe on edge. more...
Professor Philip Spencer is Director of the Helen Bamber Centre for the Study of Rights, Conflict and Mass Violence, at Kingston University. The Centre, which he founded in 2004, provides a focus for research and teaching in these areas. His own research interests include the Holocaust, comparative genocide, nationalism, and antisemitism. He is also Director of the University’s European Research Department.
Professor Spencer was a panelist at the CHGS and the Center for Austrian Studies’ discussion on “Antisemitism Then and Now” and gave a lecture on “The Recurrence of Genocide Since the Holocaust”, both of which took place at the University of Minnesota December 5 & 6, 2013. more...
by Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich
Museum administrators and curators have the challenging role of finding a creative way to present Holocaust exhibits to avoid clichéd or dehumanizing portrayals of victims and their suffering.
In Holocaust Memory Reframed, Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich examines representations in three museums: Israel’s Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Germany’s Jewish Museum in Berlin, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She describes a variety of visually striking media, including architecture, photography exhibits, artifact displays, and video installations in order to explain the aesthetic techniques that the museums employ. As she interprets the exhibits, Hansen-Glucklich clarifies how museums communicate Holocaust narratives within the historical and cultural contexts specific to Germany, Israel, and the United States.
Every year in April, the international community recalls the genocide in Rwanda and the failure to intervene. This year, on the 20th anniversary of the genocide, we did the same in several sites and countries around the world. Here at the University of Minnesota, we held a three day-long event that brought together practitioners, scholars, activists and K-12 educators. We asked ourselves what we learned from the Rwandan experience and how these lessons can be used to prevent and intervene in future atrocities. I personally think the world has learned very little from the genocide in Rwanda and that we have failed to efficiently put to use our limited knowledge to prevent other atrocities.
No nos une el amor, sino el espanto.
(We are not united by love, but by horror)
Jorge Luis Borges
Since Auschwitz it has indeed been possible to speak of a
German-Jewish symbiosis-but of a negative one. For both
Germans and for Jews the result of mass extermination has
become the basis of how they see themselves, a kind of
opposed reciprocity they have in common, willy-nilly.
The above-cited quotes reveal a tragic irony. The Holocaust has bound forever “Germans” and “Jews” to the past. It has also opened an insurmountable gap that conditions the mutual relationship, as well as the passing on of group identity – of victims and of perpetrators stuck in a permanent position of culpability – to the next generations. Moreover, it perpetuates in time a binary division constructed by the Nazi ideologues: Germans vs. Jews.