University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies

Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies

Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies

The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) promotes academic research, education and public awareness on the Shoah, other genocides and current forms of mass violence. Your generous support is key to maintaining the important work of the Center, advancing the hightest quality of scholarship, programs, and educational resources.

Center News

  • Student Opportunities

    CHGS guides and mentors undergraduate and graduate students by organizing courses and workshops, offering grants and fellowships and providing unique opportunities for interaction with leading experts in the field. To find out more click here.

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  • Professional and Educational Resources

    CHGS supports educators through interactive workshops and institutes, facilitated by leading experts of Holocaust and genocide education. CHGS's website offers a myriad of resources for teaching age appropriate lessons about the Holocaust and genocide. To learn more click here.

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  • Daniel Levy "The Past: Between History and Memory" | Keynote as part of International Symposium on the 70th Anniversary of the Conclusion of WWII

    Friday, May 8, 2015
    International Symposium:
    War, what is it good for? Uses and Abuses of Second World War History in Europe
    University of Minnesota

    In 1969 Edwin Starr famously asked "war, what is it good for?" and answered "absolutely nothing." Regardless of whether organized violence is ever a good way to achieve various political goals, war history is often usable past in the present. Second World War as the "good war" or the "great patriotic war" can be put to many uses by contemporary political actors. This event discusses the actual and potential uses of second world war history 70 years after war's end. The one-day symposium will address the usage of war history in both, international and domestic politics. For the international sphere our main focus is on the use of the war in contemporary European politics, especially in Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, the West, and in relations between them. Is history politics just continuation of war by other means or can war history be used to build peaceful relations between former enemies? In domestic sphere WWII history is mostly used to construct unified nations, but in the symposium we analyze how war history has been or could be used in emancipatory ways to empower marginalized groups within societies.


    Keynote by Professor Daniel Levy (Stony Brook University, and author of Memory Unbound: The Holocaust and the Formation of Cosmopolitan Memory): "The Past: Between History and Memory".

    Morning session

    Social Sciences 710

    Welcome words: Matti Jutila, Alejandro Baer
    Keynote: Daniel Levy, Stony Brook University
    "The Past: Between History and Memory"

    The connection between history and memory has a long and contentious relationship. Recent scholarship associated with the so-called third wave of memory studies is challenging some of the historiographical presuppositions of what a past consists of. This talk will address some of these trajectories and advance a number of conceptual suggestions.
    Comments and discussion: Thomas Wolfe, Matti Jutila, Erma Nezirevic

    Afternoon session 1: International History Politics in Europe

    Heller Hall 1210

    Thomas Wolfe: "Putin's History"
    How do authoritarian regimes both need and ignore the writing of history? Putin's Russia offers on the one hand a striking example of a regime building an image of its deep historical roots in Russia's past, including aspects of the Soviet past, and particularly the Great Patriotic War. But at the same time the regime has no interest in acknowledging the past as something "unknown," or as something for which people might mobilize themselves for change. Our discussion will try to unpack this paradox.

    Juhana Aunesluoma (University of Helsinki): "All Quiet on the Western Front? European Identity, Wold War II and Politics of Remembrance in Western Europe"
    In the 1990s the memory of the Holocaust was introduced under the concept of European cultural heritage. Auschwitz and similar sites were added on EU-managed lists of monuments of European cultural heritage. However, there have also been calls to include places like Dresden as appropriate places of mourning and remembrance, highlighting the suffering of ordinary Germans during the war. While the forms and boundaries of the politics of remembrance in contemporary Europe have been extended to include diverse groups and also victims of Stalinist terror, it has not been easy to integrate the dark shadows of Europe's past in all their complexity into notions of European identity and a common European cultural heritage.

    Afternoon session 2: Politics of New Forms of Commemoration

    Heller Hall 1210

    Rick McCormick: "From the 'Rubble Film' to the 'Heritage Film' and Beyond: Representations of WWII and the Holocaust in German Cinema"
    The very first post-WWII German film, made in the Soviet zone of Berlin, attempted to deal with Nazi war crimes, but it also focused on a traumatized German soldier as a victim of the Nazis rather than telling the story of the woman in the film who helps to heal him, who is herself a former concentration camp inmate. German attempts to deal with the Nazi past in film on both sides of the Cold War served different political agendas but were mostly silent about the plight of the Jews. In the aftermath of the surprising impact in West Germany of the American miniseries Holocaust in the late 1970s, and later, after German unification, the huge success of Spielberg's film Schindler's List in the early 1990s, things changed. Since the late 1990s the plight of the Jews is almost always thematized in big-budget historical films about WWII made in Germany, but these so-called "heritage" films seem to be marketing a past that is safely sealed off from the present. One recent example is the TV miniseries Generation War (Unsere Muetter, unsere Vaeter), which includes a Jewish character, albeit a not very plausible one, among its protagonists. But this kind of "heritage" narrative is also critiqued by some younger filmmakers.

    Jodi Elowitz: "Creating an Archive for a New Generation: The Holocaust Memory as Illustrated in Animated Short Films"
    Have we reached our limit on the use of the traditional images of the archive in representing the Holocaust in documentary film? How will filmmakers engage the next generation of viewers to invite them to watch narratives of the Holocaust? I believe the answer lies in the use of artistic representation in the form of animated short films. In this presentation I will explore how animation is replacing the use of traditional archival footage in order to create new imagery based on the representation and memory that has been shaped by the limited photographic and film record of the Holocaust.

    Coffee Break

    Afternoon session 3: Empowering the Marginalized

    Heller Hall 1210

    Elaine May: "Women on the Home Front"
    World War II opened up many new opportunities for women to pursue work and other social, sexual, and public activities that had not been available to them prior to the war. This presentation will open up discussion on the ways in which women's lives changed during the war, and the extent to which those changes carried forward into the postwar era.

    Matti Jutila: "Diverse Country, Diverse Soldiers, Homogenic War Narrative: Diversifying Finnish WWII History Politics"
    The hegemonic Finnish WWII narrative presents Finnish soldiers as white, Finnish speaking, Christian (Evangelical Lutheran), heterosexual men. Relying on this image, Finnish populist right uses war history in its nationalist, anti-immigration politics. In my presentation I will address the war experiences of Muslim, Jewish, Roma, Russian and gay soldiers in the Finnish armed forces and discuss the potential uses of this history in supporting an inclusive, multicultural society today.

    Concluding remarks

    Heller Hall 1210

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  • Armenian Genocide Centennial | CHGS events in commemoration of the 100th anniversary, April 23-25

    Facebook image-2 copy.pngAs we approach the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Human Rights Program and the Institute for Global Studies will be hosting three days of events to commemorate this centennial. The events will include the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Lecture featuring Professor Bedross Der Matossian, which is open to the public (April 23), a student conference, entitled "One Hundred Years of Genocide" (April 24), open to the public, and a K-16 teacher workshop (April 25).

    The objectives of these events are to promote public understanding of the genocide and the fates of those who lost their lives and those who escaped. The events will also analyze responses by the international community, and discuss the long-term implications for international policy and actions to prevent and respond to genocide.

    Thursday, April 23, 7:00pm
    Bedross Der Matossian, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
    "The Armenian Genocide Historiography on the Eve of the Centennial: From Continuity to Contingency"

    Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Humphrey Forum
    open to the public

    Friday, April 24, 8:45am - 5:00pm
    100 Years of Genocide - Student Conference

    Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Room #25
    open to the public

    Saturday, April 25, 8:45am - 3:00pm
    World War I and the Armenian Genocide - Teacher Workshop

    1210 Heller Hall

    Saturday, April 25, 11:00am - 1:00pm
    Guided Tour of Bdote, sacred Dakota site at Ft. Snelling State Park

    led by Professor Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair

    Events organized by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Human Rights Program, Institute for Global Studies, Center for Austrian Studies, and Ohanessian Chair. Made possible by the Ohanessian Endowment Fund for Justice and Peace Studies of the Minneapolis Foundation.

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  • Tour of Bdote, sacred Dakota site at Ft. Snelling State Park

    Saturday, April 25
    11:00am - 1:00pm
    Ft. Snelling State Park

    Guided Tour for U of M Graduate Students (by registration)
    Lunch and shuttle bus between campus / Ft. Snelling provided
    Space is limited!
    Please email for details and to reserve your spot.


    We are living, learning, and working in a particular place with a long, fascinating, troubling, and frequently unknown story. One goal for this tour is that participants begin to experience the place we live in as Mnisota Makoce, the Dakota Homelands. We will be visiting several Dakota sacred sites located in an area that would later be called the Twin Cities. How has colonization impacted Dakota use and access to these places? How have Dakota people asserted a continuing relationship with these places? This tour will provide participants with a more nuanced and complicated understanding of the place we call home.


    Iyekiyapiwiƞ Darlene St. Clair is an Associate Professor at Saint Cloud State University where she teaches American Indian Studies and directs the Multicultural Resource Center. Her work focuses on several areas: Dakota Studies, the integration of Native cultures, histories and languages into curricula and educational institutions, and the arts and cultural expressions of Native peoples. She is Bdewakaƞtuƞwaƞ Dakota and an enrolled member of the Lower Sioux Indian Community in Minnesota.

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  • Panel on "Shanghailander" Jewish Refugees

    Thursday, April 23
    9:30 - 11:30am
    Northrop Auditorium

    China Day is an annual half-day event that brings together Minnesota high school students who study Chinese at the University of Minnesota. Keynote speakers include a panel of "Shanghailanders," individuals who lived in Shanghai as Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Panelist will speak about their life in Shanghai and share with students what Shanghai was like during a critical time in history. The theme coincides with an exhibit that the Confucius Institute will be sponsoring, Jewish Refugees in Shanghai.

    The panel discussion will be facilitated by Alejandro Baer, Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and professor in the Department of Sociology.

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