University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
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  • 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.

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    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".

    10:00-11:45
    Morning session

    Social Sciences 710

    10:00-10:15
    Welcome words: Matti Jutila, Alejandro Baer
    10:15-11:00
    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.
    11:00-11:45
    Comments and discussion: Thomas Wolfe, Matti Jutila, Erma Nezirevic

    2:00-2:45
    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.

    2:45-3:30
    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.

    3:30-3:45
    Coffee Break

    3:45-4:30
    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.

    4:30-4:45
    Concluding remarks

    Heller Hall 1210

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Community Events

  • Marek Edelman Dialogue Center to commemorate 70th anniversary of Litzmannstadt Ghetto liquidation

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    This year marks the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Litzmannstadt (i.e. Łódź) Ghetto, the second-largest ghetto (after the Warsaw Ghetto) established for Jews and Romani in German-occupied Poland. The Marek Edelman Dialogue Center will be hosting a commemoration of the ghetto's liquidation from August 28 - 31, 2014 in and near Łódź, Poland.

    A total of 204,000 Jews passed through the Litzmannstadt Ghetto. Despite reverses in the war, the Germans persisted in liquidating the ghetto and were able to transport the remaining population to Auschwitz and Chełmno extermination camps, where most died. It was the last ghetto in Poland to be liquidated. It is believed that the last transport took place on August 29, 1944.

    A full program of the commemorations can be found by clicking here. Registration is needed to take part in selected events and is available here.

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  • USC Shoah Foundation seeking 2014-2015 Center Research Fellow

    The USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research (CAGR) has invited senior scholars to apply for its 2014-2015 Center Research Fellow. Applications will be accepted from now until July 14, 2014.

    The fellowship provides $30,000 support and will be awarded to an outstanding candidate from any discipline who will advance genocide research through the use of the Visual History Archive (VHA) of the USC Shoah Foundation and other USC resources. The incumbent will spend one semester in residence at the CAGR during the 2014-2015 academic year and will be expected to provide the Center with fresh research perspectives, play a role in Center activities, and to give a public talk during his or her stay.

    For more information, please see the USC Shoah Foundation Call for Applications.pdf

    The CAGR was launched in April 2014 and builds on the diverse and interdisciplinary genocide research programs established over the last several years at the University of Southern California to offer a unique research opportunity to students and scholars around the world.

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  • In Memoriam. Fred Baron (1924-2014)

    CHGS is sad to announce the loss of friend and Holocaust survivor, Fred Baron.

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    Fred Baron was born in Vienna in 1924. He was 15 when the German's annexed (Anschluss) Austria in 1938. Fred's father had died while his sister was sent to England as part of the Kindertransport in 1939. Meanwhile, he and his mother sought shelter and lived in hiding. In 1941 they managed to escape to Hungary. Fred was arrested in Hungary and imprisoned for a time while his mother was sent to an interment camp. In June 1944 he was deported to Auschwitz.

    After time in various labor camps, he was liberated by the British Army at Bergen-Belsen; in terrible health he was taken to Sweden for medical care. At the hospital he met his future wife Judith, who was also a Holocaust survivor, and was reunited with his sister. He resettled in Minnesota in 1947, attracted to the large Swedish population.

    With Judith he raised a family, started a successful business and was a great supporter of the community. He had a kind and gentle spirit and a very optimistic outlook on life. He spoke often about his experiences and generously supported Holocaust education.

    Fred died at the age of 91 on May 23, 2014. He will be sorely missed.

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