Current Students, Eritrean refugees, Genocide Studies, Holocaust Movies, Research Forum, Uncategorized

Cohort V Student shares thoughts on “Sound of Torture” and her decision to study the Holocaust

 

The following is written by Cohort V student Eugenia Mihalcea:

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Eugenia Mihalcea   

The documentary Sound of Torture (2013) written and directed by the Israeli filmmaker Keren Shavo, screened in one of the last Research Forum classes, might have many unspoken things. The director chose to follow the Eritrean radio host and human rights activist Meron Estefanos as she reports on Eritrean refugees who have been captured in Sudan while migrating across the Sinai Peninsula into Israel. Keren Shavo does not address the problem of the Israeli official approach to the Eritreans or to refugees in general, or the criminality in the southern part of Tel Aviv. On the other hand, the documentary reminded me why I chose for research the Holocaust.

In order to explain this, I will tell a story. A few years ago, I came to Israel as a young BA student to learn Hebrew. We were five colleagues from Bucharest willing to learn Hebrew better but also to visit and explore Israel a little bit. One day we went to Tel Aviv, to the beach, we enjoyed the sun, the sea, the sunset. We were staying in Jerusalem, so at some point we realized that we need to go back by bus. We asked around and people guided us to a bus station in the southern part of Tel Aviv. We knew nothing about the Eritrean neighbourhood. We just walked in the dark to the bus station. Until we reached what we imagined is Africa – as Maron said in the documentary. But we did not feel joy and happiness as Maron did. We felt fear. We were afraid. I was afraid of the unknown and unfamiliar people walking around without purpose. I was afraid of their music, of their houses with the doors wide open, of their language I could not understand. I knew nothing. I did not see them as people, as individuals. I saw them as Africans. I was using racial denominations when thinking about them and this was beyond my rational mind.

After almost one year in the International MA program, after exploring other genocides as part of different courses I took, and last but not least, after seeing the abovementioned movie, I can say that engaging in Holocaust Studies is not only about research.

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Unknown people in an unfamiliar environment, speaking a strange language, not having enough food, enough money, living like in a ghetto. Sound familiar? They could be the Eritreans in the south of Tel Aviv. They could be the African refugees living in different European countries nowadays. They could be the Muslims in Western Europe. They were the Jews during the Holocaust.

It is a pattern and even if the planned idea is not to compare, this pattern can be helpful in understanding that every, but every person has a story. And we just need the patience to listen to it.


Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website

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Holocaust Movies, Research Forum

Hilla Medalia on her film “Numbered”

IMG_4002Producer, Hilla Medalia, shared at a Research Forum about her film Numbered. The film is about survivors in Israel that still bear their numbers from Auschwitz. It’s focused on the effect of their numbers on a personal level and their relationship with their numbers. Some say they cannot remember their number, even though it’s tattooed on them, maybe they’re suppressing traumatic memories. Most agreed that they want to hide their number, as if their tattoo invited questions from strangers. One survivor said a cashier asked her about Auschwitz at the register in a grocery store. Another survivor said his number reminded him that he lived, so he never tried to hide it. When he got his tattoo he cried tears of joy, because it meant he would survive, those who went straight to the gas chambers were never numbered. Other said they cried because it took their humanity, their identity from them; it reduced them to just a number. In any event, all of those interviewed had their own story of how they felt about their tattoo.

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About 400,000 prisoners at Auschwitz were tattooed with numbers; only a few thousand are still alive. The film reminds us that the Holocaust factors daily into the lives of the survivors and their families. Whether it’s the survivor that’s hiding her number at the cash register, or the survivor answering questions from his grandchildren, their numbers are active players in a daily reminder of the Holocaust.

Medalia shared that on the day they filmed all of the survivors together, they started talking to each other to see if they met each other in the camp, or if they had mutual acquaintances. They compared their numbers and when they arrived at Auschwitz. They all wanted to relate to one another. Medalia doesn’t normally work with Holocaust films, the process of working on this film was significant and moving.


Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website

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Research Forum

Director Arnon Goldfinger shares about his documentary “The Flat”

IMG_4001In a recent Research Forum, director, Arnon Goldfinger, shared about his 2011 documentary called The Flat. After his mother passed, Goldfinger and his siblings were charged with cleaning out her flat, where his grandparents, Gerda and Kurt Tuchler, also lived. They immigrated to Palestine in the 1930’s, fleeing from Nazi Germany. The film started as a sort of familial archive, but developed into a much larger story.

Goldfinger realized that the story unfolding was too significant to keep it for just the family archives. He said, looking through the lens of the camera he could seen the flat with new clarity and renewed focus. He decided to produce the film as a documentary, and see where it would take him. Without knowing where the content of the flat would lead him he focused on the question: What can you find out about people from the things they left behind?

Through a series of letters and photos, Goldfinger discovered a surprising relationship between his grandparents and Leopold von Mildenstein and his wife. Leopold von Mildenstein was the director of the Office for Jewish Affairs in Nazi Germany, he was succeeded by Adolf Eichmann. In the 1930’s, Mildenstein travelled to Palestine to assess viability in the country for hosting more Jews, he was accompanied by Goldfinger’s grandparents. Memorabilia, including photos, made Goldfinger confront this silenced family memory.

After the war, the Tuchler’s and Mildenstein’s continued their relationship, the Tuchler’s visited the Mildenstein’s in Germany often. In the film, Goldfinger follows his grandparent’s footsteps and visits with Mildenstein’s children. He goes on a journey examining the Holocaust and WWII memory through Israeli and German perspective as the descendents of these unlikely friends discuss their own experience and relationships with their respective families.

The film has won several awards including: Jerusalem Film Festival Award for Best Director of a Documentary, Bavarian Film Away for Best Documentary, and Tribeca Films Festival 2012 for Best Editing Documentary, among many others.

For more information on the film, and how to watch the film: Visit the website.


Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website

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Current Students, Genocide Studies, Research Forum

Cohort V Student Shares on the Cambodian Genocide

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Chenda talks about the Cambodian Genocide. 

Cohort V has the distinct pleasure to include Chenda Seang, our first student from Cambodia. Throughout the year our students sat together in classes with Chenda, but recently Chenda was in the front of the classroom sharing about the Cambodian genocide. Here’s a bit of what he shared:

The Khmer Rouge party was founded in the 1950’s, they grew from a small group of ideological radicals to an organization which overthrew the corrupt government in 1970, led by General Lon Nol. The Khmer Rouge aligned themselves against this government but also against the western bloc and the communist bloc, though the Khmer Rouge was communist, it pushed back on Russian and Chinese communist agendas. They designed their own Cambodian communism. Because of their refusal to work with either Russian communists or the Chinese communists the Khmer Rouge government gained support from the US government, who was fearing a domino effect in Asia. American support is clearly complicated, nevertheless a direct line of American support is noted.

IMG_3656American foreign interests were specifically concerned about Vietnam, Cambodia’s neighbor. The Vietnam War spilled over national borders into Cambodia; American intelligence thought that Vietnamese guerilla outfits were stationed in Cambodia, so a series of secret bombardments were carried out in Cambodia between 1969 to 1973. These bombings didn’t end communist influences in Cambodia rather it strengthened it, specifically the Khmer Rouge. The Cambodian people turned to the Khmer Rouge. They offered security, food, and shelter.

When, Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader, led a march into Phnom Penh, the capital city, the people welcomed him thinking the new Communist regime would bring peace to Cambodia. One of the first actions as established rulers in Cambodia, was to implement mass killings of soldiers, political enemies, and anyone associated with the old government. Then they turned on intellectuals, lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers and other professional people. Thousands were killed immediately and brutally by the Khmer Rouge.

Throughout the Khmer Rouge reign, confessions were held through severe torture, most did not survive. The confessions made during these torture sessions resulted in a long list of names of people who were also supposedly politically subversive to the Khmer Rouge party. This led to chaos in Cambodia, Khmer Rouge “gangsters,” as they called themselves, murdered people openly in the streets and secretly in the forests for example, without any real cause other than allegations that the victims belonged to the old regime.

The Khmer Rouge saw city-dwellers as dangerous because cities held out the longest against communist influence, while rural populations were more easily swayed. As a result, the Khmer Rouge evacuated all cities, with a vision for a more agricultural society. City residents were told that the US was planning to bomb the cities so they had to evacuate quickly, but they would return to their homes in a few days, consequently most did not pack sufficiently for the long journey ahead, thousands died from starvation and exhaustion.

In the villages a sort of ranking began, “base people” or “old people,” those who had lived in the villages before April 17, 1975 were deemed safe, but “new people” or those who were forcefully deported to the villages after April 17, 1975, were regarded as unsafe, and were kept at a distance. Most villages weren’t fit for the massive population growth and many died from poor living conditions.

The Khmer Rouge’s vision for a more agricultural society meant an industrial development of agriculture with unrealistic expectations. Their Four Year Plan included a doubling of the rice production between 1977 and 1978. This resulted in exhaustion which led to starvation and death. Most of the land, even with industrial improvements, wasn’t able to cultivate these amounts production, so the Khmer Rouge cut food rations. They realized that land in the Northwest was more fertile, but because of drought even they weren’t able to meet goals. This region was also, according to Pol Pot, more susceptible to Vietnamese influence. As a result, the Northwest and Eastern-zone regions were “purged” of Vietnamese influence.

In one of the most inhumane acts of the Khmer Rouge, residents of this area were forced to march into the interior, many died along the way. During the march, Khmer Rouge members gave blue striped scarves to those they deemed most ideologically dangerous, these scarves acted as symbols for the Khmer Rouge members to kill them in their new destinations. Chenda brought one of these scarves with him to Israel, and he wears it often. He explained this is part of Cambodian culture to bring your scarf with you wherever you go.

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Chenda wearing his blue scarf from Cambodia in the Auschwitz archives. 

Chenda’s research makes him particularly interested in post genocidal aftermaths, because he lives in a post-traumatic society. This is one of the reasons Chenda chose to study the Holocaust. Chenda says that there is a loss of trust in Cambodian society and many young people wonder about their backgrounds. The trauma of genocide makes a division between the old and the young in the nation. Chenda shared with us that his mother was a survivor of the genocide, and she told much of her history to him. As a trend, children of survivors know their parents’ stories. But Chenda’s father was a member of the Khmer Rouge, and they never talked about his involvement. Many of the Khmer Rouge members were never tried in court, but after the fall of the regime, continued with their normal lives. Essentially, Chenda is hoping to bring restoration and healing to Cambodian society, and we hope that we’ve helped him through the resources we’ve offered as a result of our program.


Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website

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Holocaust Survivor, Research Forum

Holocaust Survivor: Zev Kedem Shares with Cohort V

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Zev Kedem and Hana Green

Earlier this year, Hana Green, a student in Cohort V, met Holocaust survivor Zev Kedem. She and Dr. Yael Granot-Bein invited him to shared in a Research Forum. We were very fortunate to hear his story. Here’s what he shared:

The Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Zev was only 5 years old. He and his sister were on holiday, which was cut short, his mother made them leave early. Zev remembers being so upset, he said, “Little did I know that this darkness of the Holocaust would pursue me for six years.” They took the train back which stopped short of home, he and his family had to walk through Krakow in the middle of the night, to their grandparent’s home.

Zev shared about another time they traveled together; they were walking when they came upon a German checkpoint in the road, many cars were lined up to go through the checkpoint. Zev’s mother was very beautiful and charismatic, she went right up the a German soldier’s truck and convinced them to give her and Zev a ride into Krakow. Alone, they would likely suffer at the checkpoint. As they got into the car, Zev’s mother looked down at him and said, “See, the impossible is possible.” He remembered this the rest of his life, and made it a sort of mantra.

In 1941, all Jews in the area were forced into the Krakow ghetto, before this Zev’s family was living outside Krakow in poor conditions. Zev and his family were hoping to live with his grandparents in the Krakow ghetto, but they already had three other families living in their apartment. Zev and his family moved into the apartment next door in order to be close, Zev said they were proud to had a whole, small, room to themselves, and even a bed. Food was scarce, life was hard and then the deportations started.

The deportations forced a division in the ghetto, those with a work permit lived in one section of the ghetto, those without lived in another section. Zev’s mother had a work permit, and she was the only one in the family with one. Hunger forced Zev to smuggle food. Children were less suspicious, so he snuck out of the ghetto with his head down and shoulders up. A habit, he admits, he still keeps today. While he was out two German soldiers called him out and started asking questions, but two pretty Polish girls came and talked to the soldiers, giving Zev an escape. He went to the farms he had stayed at, along with his family, and they gave him some food, not much but as much as they could afford. When he returned his mother was frantic but they had food.

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The square in the Krakow ghetto where deportations took place. The chairs were installed as a memorial to those that were killed here. (Photo was taken during Cohort V’s study tour to Poland) 

In March 1943, the Krakow Ghetto was liquidated; as Zev stood in the crowded square, a man was shot and fell next to him. His mother came and grabbed him from the crowd, she hid Zev, his sister, and his grandparents in his uncle’s pigeon coop. She told them to stay there, she closed the coop, locked the doors leading to the coop and went back to work. They could still hear the deportation for two or three more hours, then silence.

A truck came through and announced to anyone in hiding that if they didn’t come out they would be shot on sight. Then they heard shooting gradually coming toward them. Zev heard a Nazi making his way up to them. He stood at a metal door which his mother had locked, so as to look like no one could be behind the door. Zev’s grandparents had vials of poison but Zev realized they only had two, so he and his sister would have to endure what the Nazis had in store. Zev said, “You can’t realize how a child of seven or eight has to internalize the direct fear of death.” But the German didn’t come through the locked door, his mother had hid them well.

An announcement was made among the workers of the ghetto for volunteers to go through the quarter and salvage valuables. Zev’s mother, of course, volunteered. She came and saved them, Zev’s grandparents could pass as laborers but she knew she needed to hide the children. She negotiated with her wedding ring to hide them in a wagon which was used to bring the valuables back to a warehouse.

But he didn’t make it to the warehouse. He was pulled from the wagon and told to go to an unfinished barrack alone, it was dark and he heard someone moaning in pain next to him. He didn’t know this was part of the plan. Then his mother came in with a doctor, he said to Zev, “if you want to stay alive you will have to be silent and invisible.” Zev attached himself to a group of older boys; they became his camouflage. He followed them wherever they went.

He ended up working with them in a brush factory. He sat in the back row on top of a box to make himself look taller, and older. He was only eight years old, the age limit was thirteen, any younger than thirteen, and the children couldn’t work so they were killed. Zev shared his perspective while at the factory, he said “I realized I had no right what so ever to be alive in the concentration camp. Many of the inmates had lost their children, so they resented me.” In order to prove his worth, he made more brushes than anyone in the factory. He sat next to a man who had been a teacher, all of his students had been killed, he said to Zev, “If you survive, you won’t be a human being unless you learn to read and write.” Somehow he got Zev a Jules Vern novel, and taught Zev how to read.

One day in the factory, a man was shot by a German guard. The guard said the man was working slowly, the thought was that it would terrorize everyone to make them work harder. Then the small boy in the back, Zev, caught the eye of this German. Luckily, Zev spoke German, he told the guard admittedly that he was smaller, but this meant that he ate less, and he proved his productiveness with his hard work. The guard was conflicted but left Zev alone. Zev explained that he never gave himself the luxury of feeling like he was suffering, rather he told himself he was playing a game, and winning the game meant survival.

Dr. Gross, the doctor that Zev had met before, was on Oscar Schindler’s list, Zev and Dr. Gross became very close, he was something of an adoptive father to Zev. Dr. Gross pulled strings to get Zev, Zev’s sister and Zev’s mother on Schindler’s list as well. Zev recalled that they travelled all over the Third Reich to different factories with other people on the list. During one of the their travels the women’s train, where Zev’s mother was, was sent to Auschwitz but Schinder negotiated for their return before they were killed, he sent a train to pick them up. The train conductor took five boys with him to Auschwitz on this train meant to save the women. Zev was abducted onto this train.

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Crematoriums at Birkenau. (Photo taken during Cohort V’s study tour to Poland) 

Zev arrived to Auschwitz in October 1944, he remembers the gates were closed so they were ordered to walk around the entire perimeter of the camp to the crematoriums in the back. They were ordered to strip naked, Zev knew about the gas chambers and he was sure he would be killed. But they were taken to a table, and a man started tattooing a number on Zev’s arm; Zev cried, not because it hurt, which it did, but because he was so happy, a number meant registration to the camp, which meant a chance for survival.

He and the four other boys were taken to the children’s barrack. Zev explained that they were on reserve for Dr. Mengele’s experiments. He remembers a young handsome looking German coming into the barrack and offering sweets, Zev hid under a mud covered blanket, he didn’t trust this man. The children that left with, who he assumed to be, Mengele, never came back.

When the Russians were closing in on Auschwitz, Zev was convinced that those who couldn’t march would be killed: the sick and the elderly (and the young), so he volunteered to leave. Eventually he made it to Mauthausen Concentration Camp, he worked in one of the fifty sub-camps but towards the end of the war he returned to Mauthausen. In Mauthausen there were two fields of labor: the death industry, and the quarry. Zev knew he wouldn’t be strong enough for the quarry so he worked as a Sonderkommando.

One day, he recalls, he came out of the hospital (where he worked clearing dead bodies) and the gates to the camp were open. Soldiers were standing at the main entrance to the camp, and he was convinced they would kill him because he was still under thirteen years old, so he ran. He discovered that the kitchen of the SS was completely empty so he ate as much potato salad as he could, which wasn’t very much. He remembers, “To this day, I have never had a better meal.”

As he left, he came upon more soldiers, one of them threw him a chocolate bar, but he still didn’t trust them, because of Mengele and his sweets. He took a closer look at the soldiers and realized one of them was black, so he knew these soldiers weren’t German, and that he could trust them.

He left Mauthausen and sought refuge in nearby villages, but he says “I got shot at more during this time than ever before.” Austrians were afraid of the inmates because they were scared of them for two reasons: the truth they held and of their illnesses.

After the war, the American troops organized for Zev to be sent to the UK. There he grew up with an adoptive family, and received an Oxford education. After forty years, Zev met his mother again in communist Poland, on her deathbed. It was hard to get a visa to Poland, but he managed it. One of the after effects of the Holocaust was divided families, and this was very much Zev’s case as well.

Today Zev lives in Haifa, Israel. He lives a very active life sharing his education and experience with University students. We were pleased to host him and hear his heart-wrenching story.


Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website

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Seminars

The Yiddish Culture in the former Third Reich Displaced Persons Camps

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Dr. Ella Florsheim sharing images of newsletters and other cultural material from the DP camps. 

During our seminar at Yad Vashem, we were fortunate to listen to a lecture from Dr. Ella Florsheim. Her lecture was titled: Yiddish Culture in Displaced Persons Camps in Germany: Newspaper, Theatre and Literature. Dr. Florsheim is a specialist in Jewish culture of the surviving remnant in post-conflict Germany.

Germany had 150 displaced person camps throughout the country. The largest was Bergen-Belsen, where, on average, the population of the camp was five to seven thousand, but the British hosted twelve thousand people at its peak of population. There were very few camps in other countries, including France, Austria and Italy, but these were mostly transit camps for larger, more prominent destinations in Germany. Germany was perceived as an exit point to America, Israel, and Great Britain – anywhere outside of former Third Reich. It should be noted that Jews and other displaced people tried to return to their homes, but, for an overwhelming majority of them, people had moved into their homes and refused to leave.

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Cohort V walking to the International School at Yad Vashem

During the years 1945 to 1948, there were still strict immigration laws in place. Jews and other displaced people didn’t have anywhere to go. Displaced persons lived in former Nazi concentration camps and military barracks. They were crowded and the living conditions were dismal, but their spirits did not break. They shared unique community and culture with one another, which is exactly what Dr. Ella Florsheim studies.

After the Holocaust, there were “signs of life” as Dr. Florsheim put it, a “strong vitality to recreate community.” But the communities still suffered from the aftermath of the Holocaust – the end of the war did not mean the end of dying. 30,000 people died in the first weeks after Bergen-Belsen was liberated. But this time period also proved to give birth to new life: in two and half years, one thousand babies were born in these camps. Most of these new mothers lost their own mothers to the gas chambers. German doctors were brought in to care for these new mothers and to help with labor.

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Students Hana Green and Jasmine Munn on the Yad Vashem Campus. 

It was significant for survivors to start new life on German soil, as many of them had considered Germany their home before the Holocaust. The rise of Jewish leadership was marked after liberation, specifically after Munich was liberated. They formed democratically elected governments of sorts,  and they started hospitals and orphanages in the DP camps. They also formed cultural organizations such as theatres and newspapers, among others.  

Only three weeks after the liberation in Buchenwald, surviving Jews started a newsletter called, in Yiddish, “Undzer Sztime” or “Our Voice.” The first publication was sent out on July 12, 1945. David Rosenthal was one of the founders, and he said that doing something for the Jews meant doing it in Yiddish. The translation of Yiddish in Yiddish is Jewish, and the two concepts were inseparable for him. They found old typing machines with Hebrew letters, which amazingly survived the onslaught of Jewish culture in the Third Reich. They put a lot of effort into finding and even making, by hand, rubber stamp letters, so they could print their newsletters in Yiddish. They sent this newsletter throughout the system of displaced person camps in the former Third Reich, and they shared a bond through the culture they shared, which was viciously attacked for the last 12 years.

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Dr. Florsheim sharing with Cohort V. 

Another newspaper called the “Lansberger Lager ceitung” in Yiddish, or “Landsberg Camp Newspaper,” was published in Latin letters between 1945 and 1948, as well as another called the “Jidisze Cajtung” or the “Jewish Times.” The different newspapers held different competitions collecting poems and short stories, which were the first testaments to their memories of the Holocaust. Winners of these competitions were promised speedy movement with visa paperwork.

Schools in the DP camps weren’t teaching Yiddish, though, they were teaching Hebrew for the two thirds of the population which would eventually end up in Palestine. A saying in the camp went something like this: “Speak Yiddish, study Hebrew.” Their identity was Yiddish but their future was Hebrew.

The Katzet Theatre began in Bergen-Belsen, and Sholem Aleichem worked as director and playwright. He wasn’t afraid to discuss their experiences of the Holocaust on stage. He argued it was therapeutic and cathartic. Another theatre group started in Munich called “The Enchanted Tailor.” They travelled between other DP camps for the three years they were an institution in the former Third Reich. They always met an excited and abundant audience, and were in high demand. There was a singular relationship between laughing and crying in their plays, and the theatre accepted it and worked from that place. The genre they created was a sort of therapy drama. It put the audience in control of their surroundings, which was new and different for them, and it allowed them to process their experiences differently.

Meanwhile in Palestine, it was illegal to perform a play in Yiddish and they had an emphasis on a new Israeli culture. Yiddish in America was also being lost. A survivor was quoted saying “I wasn’t in Treblinka, but my word went to flame there.” The culture found in the DP camps of the former Third Reich was the last blinking life of European Jewry, and Ella Dr. Florsheim’s research underlines the importance of the culture that was destroyed under the Nazi regime.


Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program?  You can find the application and more information at our website

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Newsletter

Summer Newsletter 2017

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Newsletter: Summer 2017

Website | Blog | Donate | Scholarships


Summer is here and it’s time to say goodbye to Cohort V as they leave us and go back to their home countries. We are looking ahead to welcoming Cohort VI this coming October.

We are happy to share with you some of the highlights of the last few months, which include our students’ study tour to Poland and the publication of a new issue of our journal Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust.

We are always on the lookout for excellent and motivated students. Please share our newsletter and help us reach those who are committed to the research and study of the Holocaust.

Dr. Arieh J. Kochavi & Dr. Yael Granot-Bein


Program News

It is with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to the program’s dear friend and partner, Yitzhak Livnat. We will greatly miss Yitzhak, a survivor of Auschwitz and the most generous man, who shared his story with our students every year, since the program inauguration. We are forever thankful for Yitzhak’s and his family’s generosity and support of our students.

Yitzhak Livnat’s Legacy

In March, faculty and students joined the Weiss-Livnat family in mourning the passing of Yitzhak Livnat.

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Internship with the USHMM

We are proud to announce a partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. One student will be chosen for an internship with this important organization. This also joins other internships with museums in London, Warsaw and Budapest.


New Course with Professor Jan Grabowski

We are proud to announce that Prof. Jan Grabowski will be giving  a course in our program starting this coming academic year. Prof. Grabowski is a Professor of history of the Holocaust at the University of Ottawa and the co-founder of the Polish Centre for Holocaust research at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (Warsaw). His research interests include the issues surrounding the extermination of the Polish Jews as well as the history of the Jewish-Polish relations during the 1939-1945 period. His latest book, Hunt for the Jews. Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland was published by Indiana University Press.

Read More…


Poland Study Tour

In June, our students took a study tour to Poland. Our tour included Warsaw, Lublin, and Krakow, as well as the many historical and memorial sites around these cities. We also had the privilege of meeting with students in Poland. We are happy to share some of our experiences with you here, you can also read more on the program’s blog. Read more here. 

Student, Chenda, reading documents from the Auschwitz archives.

 

Behind the Scenes of the Museum and Memorial Auschwitz-Birkenau

We were fortunate to arrange a tour through the conservation lab with a specialist in paper conservation. Our tour guide took us through many different offices in the lab.

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Majdanek

Our students learned about the death camp Majdanek, near Lublin. This photo is of students, Coos and Chenda, standing in the former gas chambers.

Read More…

 


End of the Year

Hana Green

United States | BA in History from the University of Florida

As the school year winds down, I find myself looking back on this experience as perhaps the most profound and impactful of my life. Choosing to attend graduate school across the world and in a discipline so powerful and relevant to the turmoil and instability of our time has been utterly awe-inspiring. I am grateful beyond words for the opportunity to study at this institution and alongside such kind, passionate and helpful peers and professors. This community has fostered a sense of belonging in a place foreign to many, and has allowed for its students to thrive and achieve. What I have found to value most is the diversity surrounding this program, which can be seen in our course listings, our wide range of research interests, and backgrounds. Every student brings something different to the table. Whether it’s a fresh perspective, positive outlook or a controversial debate, this program is enhanced by the diversity it inspires and embraces. Too, valuing diversity honors and pays homage to our field and area of study. It is crucial that we not only memorialize and attempt to understand the past, but that we learn and grow from its consequences. Engaging in a diversity of activities has greatly enriched my experience of studying the Holocaust. Completing an internship at Yad Vashem in the Echoes and Reflections division, participating in seminars at Yad Vashem and The Ghetto Fighter’s House, and traveling to Poland on the study tour have all contributed to the well-rounded experience I have had during my time in the program. These enrichment opportunities were invaluable in their bearing on my overall experience, and moreover, in my education. It is through these extra-curricular experiences as well as the wide-ranging and impressive courses offered through the program that I feel prepared to take the next steps in my studies and future. The Weiss-Livnat MA in Holocaust Studies program has greatly invested in its students, and I am so very grateful for this experience and the impact it has had on not only my academic and career aspirations, but also, on my personal growth and development.


Eugenia Mihalcea

Romania | BA in Journalism from Hyperion University and BA in Jewish Studies from University of Bucharest MA in Hebrew Culture and Civilization from the University of Bucharest

As an MA student at the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa I had the opportunity to intern at Yad Vashem. The project I am working with is called Deportations of Jews – a project that started in 2007.  The International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem has been studying the organized deportations of Jews as an extensive phenomenon. The resulting database will reconstruct all the transports that took place during the Holocaust from territories of the Third Reich, from countries under German occupation, from the Axis states and from the satellite states.
I am working on documents in Romanian, identifying all the relevant material about the transports from Romania during the Holocaust. During the internship, I learned how to search for documents, how to read them carefully, how to connect documents. In other words, I learned how to do archival research.
For an MA student who wants to do research in the future this is not only an opportunity, but also a chance to work in the same office with researchers and Professors that you want to follow in your career.
Being an intern at Yad Vashem and an MA student at the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies were my strong points when I applied this year for an EHRI (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure) conference.
Alongside researchers, archivists, historians and professionals in Digital Humanities and Data Protection policies from United States, Israel, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Republic of Serbia and England I took part, in June 2016, in the international workshop ”Online Access of Holocaust Documents: Ethical and Practical Challenges” organized by the ”Elie Wiesel” Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Romania. Enabling online access to Holocaust testimonies and the challenges of multilingualism was the topic that I presented.


Tamar Taylor 

United Kingdom | BS in Critical Care Nursing from Kings College and MS in First Contact Care from Sheffield Hallam University

Being on the Holocaust Studies course has exceeded my expectations in so many ways.
First, the location. To see that beautiful view each time I come to Uni, the Bay of Haifa, and even Mt. Hermon in the distance on a clear day! Spectacular!
As I was slightly apprehensive about studying in such a different discipline, I have really loved the challenge, and have found the multi-disciplinary aspects of the course enjoyable and challenging. To go from pure historical fact, to memorialising and curating, to psychological aspects, and even learning German, has widened my whole perspective of the Holocaust into a multi-dimensional experience.
It has been fantastic to meet people from so many nations and different cultures, and I have loved the interaction between us, and especially getting to know the Israelis on the course.
The special highlights for me have been the Research Forum, hearing testimonies and some of the documentaries. The Yad Vashem and Ghetto Fighters Seminars were amazing. I am also so excited to be doing an internship at Atlit as it is a place that has a lot of meaning for me as a Brit!!
Finally, the trip to Poland was a very special experience, intense, emotional at times, but so worthwhile and has made me want to return one day. For all of the hard work that you Yael and your team have put into making this programme, I would like to say a huge thanks. I know that what I have learned so far will have a lasting effect, and equip and enable me to educate others and keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.


Prof. Hagit Lavsky Reflects

Professor Hagit Lavsky received a Ph.D. in Jewish contemporary history, an M.A. in contemporary Jewry and economic history, and a B.A. in history and philosophy from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During her fellowship at the USHMM, she was the Samuel L. and Perry Haber Chair in Post-Holocaust Studies at the Institute of Contemporary Jewry, and Director of the Cherrick Center for the Study of Zionism, the Yishuv and the State of Israel at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

Read more about Prof. Hagit Lavsky’s Research Here… 

She shares some remarks about this academic year: We are about to conclude the 5th year of our program. Each year brings a different variety of students but it seems that all those who have opted for our program share in common a deep commitment and are highly motivated to study profoundly about this fateful unprecedented chapter in world history. Our program is the place which brings together a whole range of scholarly perspectives in the effort to develop new generations of committed scholars, public leaders, and educators and it never stops from introducing and opening up new directions in expanding and deepening the study of the Holocaust and its impact everywhere around the globe. As the Academic Consultant of the program’s students, I am privileged in accompanying each and every student in the process of adjustment, in overcoming obstacles, in defining their goals, in their growing confidence while paving their road to become mature scholars. The highlight of this year was in my view the Poland tour, which revealed and consolidated the yield of the program, as reflected in our discussions. It brought us together, sharing our experiences and insights. A Poland tour or a Germany tour should become an integral mandatory component in our program, and the goal should be to establish an earmarked grant for that important project.


Dr. Lea David Reflects

Lea David finished her PhD at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben Gurion University, Israel. Her work examines how a transition to democracy is changing a content of a collective memory in Serbia and is producing new social categories. She explores how a contested past is managed through the clashes of the local and the global memory cultures. She has also been lecturing on the memory studies, conflict in the Former Yugoslav countries and transitional justice at various Israeli Universities and Colleges. Her postdoctoral research under Dr Carol Kidron supervision (Anthropology Department, Haifa University) at the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research, Haifa University deals with Memory Politics and Human Rights regime in International Relations.

Read more about Dr. Lea David’s Research Here… 

Reflections from Lea David: Politics of Remembrance! In the world in which neoliberal concepts of academia reduce “student-teacher” to “customer-service provider” relations, to be able to have a mind provoking conversation with students about the world we live in is truly rare experience.Dr. Lea David, teachers the course: “Human Rights, Holocaust, Genocide: the Politics of Remembrance”
Here are some of her remarks about this academic year:
I was truly blessed I had a chance to teach this year course on Human Rights, Holocaust, Genocide: The Getting the opportunity to teach this course allowed me to create a platform where students of all life-paths, ages, religious and cultural backgrounds and geographical areas can freely discuss and deliberate why understanding Holocaust matters today. By asking difficult question of intersection of the prevailing ideologies of human rights and nationalism, we raised questions on the trade-offs and dilemmas various mnemonic groups face, the types of commemorative practices they produce and the ways Holocaust memory is being brought to the fore as a platform for articulating national interests. Is the Holocaust a single universally shared memory or the template through which other genocides and historical traumas are perceived, presented or shuttered? Does the Holocaust really have the capacity to serve as a universal memory and to replace other traumatic memories around the globe or does it merely enable a language for their articulation and thus create a wider context that provides a reframing of the past? What moral choices are involved in representing past events as “genocides” as opposed to “ethnic cleansings” or “mass-murders”? What are the real outcomes of the meaning-making processes of human suffering at different societal levels and what are the strengths and the limits of linking various historical injustice across the globe with the Holocaust?
However, the most important issue during the class was to try to solve the riddle: What this famous, yet ambiguous notion of “never forget” really mean for each and every one of us? Is it about a singular Jewish past, our embodiment in the present, or a global outlook for the future? Answering those question is challenging and thought-provoking but it ultimately means understanding why Holocaust matters. If I succeeded in that task, even partially, I rest my case!


Graduation

We have the honor to announce the graduation of 26 students this June. We’re very proud of our students and wish them well as they continue on in their careers.

Following the University’s general ceremony, the graduating students, gathered with the program’s staff headed by Prof. Kochavi, to receive their diplomas.

Lisa Krebs
from England wrote her research thesis under the supervision of Professor Maoz Azariahu and Dr. Shosh Rotem, on the representation of Orthodox Jews in Holocaust museums. She was awarded an excellent grade and graduated Magna Cum Laude

Omri Horesh
from Israel, graduated Magna Cum Laude after completing a final exam in the Psychology of the Holocaust.

Rachel Levitan
from Israel already has an MA in Law and is a practicing lawyer. She is already planning to continue her studies in the field and pursue a PhD degree.

Effi Admoni 
from Israel, focused during his studies in the program on military history of the Second World War and wrote his final exam on the topic.

Daphna Small 
from Israel has a BFA in Film from SUNY Purchase. In our program she focused on the Nazi ideology and the occult.

Jan Kirshenbaum 
from Poland has a BA in Russian Studies with a minor in Jewish Studies from the University of Wroclaw. He plans to continue his research into Jewish Russian perspective of the Holocaust.

Maura Finlay 
from the United States focused in her studies on the anthropology of trauma.

Congratulations to all of our graduates!


New Students

We are very excited to welcome our new students, who will start their studies with us this coming October. We are happy to introduce 3 of them.


Hendrik Schemann

Hendrich is 26 years old, born in Germany. He has a B.A. in history and protestant theology, he will finish his Master of Education in the same subjects this September before he comes to Haifa to study with us. Simultaneously with these studies, he was working at the University of Osnabrueck. Therefore, he had great support from his professors and even greater opportunities to write a significant bachelor’s thesis. He chose to write his thesis about the legal consult of a Jewish organization in Germany in 1933/34. This showed him that there is a lot to research in context of the Holocaust. Currently he is working on his Master’s thesis about a German-Jewish persecuted artist and he is curious about where this will lead. It is his long-term goal to stay in the field of academic research at the university and therefore he plan to write a dissertation after his Studies. Fencing, swimming, and reading helps him clear his mind and stay focused on his goals. He is looking forward to the next year and he is curious what to expect in detail.


Rivka Baum

This October Rivka will start the MA Holocaust Studies. She is 22 years old and originally from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She attended the St. Ignatius Gymnasium high school, where apart from the regular subjects she also had the opportunity to learn Latin and Greek.
She’s recently earned her BA degree in History at the University of Leiden. During her studies she realized she wanted to learn more about and research the Shoah. When she read about the multidisciplinary features of  the Weiss-Livnat International MA program in Holocaust Studies, she applied immediately because she knew she wanted to join this wonderful program. She recognizes the challenges but aspires to be part of a new generation of Holocaust researchers. She loves to cook, to read,  go to the Opera, make friends  and explore new places.


Ricki Birnbaum

Ricki Birnbaum is from Toronto, Canada. In April 2017, she completed her BA in Jewish Studies at York University in Toronto. Her paternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors and her great-grandparents on her mother’s side escaped from Europe before the war’s outbreak. For as long as she can remember, she has been interested in the topic of the Holocaust. She is particularly interested in survivors’ stories. Holocaust survivors truly inspire her. She has made it her goal to publish a memoir about her family’s experiences during the Holocaust, with a focus on her grandmother. Additionally she strives to make the Holocaust meaningful to others just like it is meaningful to her.

 


News From Dapim

We are happy to announce the publication of a new issue of the academic journal: Dapim Studies of the Holocaust, published by our Research center.

Volume 31 ,Issue 2
Dapim – Studies on the Shoah, is the interdisciplinary academic journal of the  Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research. Dapim is devoted to the interdisciplinary study of the Holocaust, the Second World War and anti-Semitism.  Scholars from around the world contribute to this journal, and we are excited to share our most recent issue with you.

The newest addition, Volume 31, Issue 2 features:

The Memory of the Archive: The International Tracing Service and the Construction of the Past as History by Dan Stone
°
‘A Shower of Hail to All Orchards’: On the Consumerist Interpretation of National Socialism by Ishay Landa
°
Performative Environments of Polish Memory: The Grodzka Gate – NN Theater Center’s
Approach to Lublin’s Jewish Pasts by Diana I. Popescu
°
Scholars’ Forum on Holocaust Historiography in Eastern Europe (Part 1)
edited by Kiril Feferman and Kobi Kabalek.
°
The forum offers an opportunity to gauge the evolution of attitudes toward the Holocaust in Eastern Europe with an eye to the current state of affairs in Holocaust historiography, as well as to Holocaust-related events and present-day political and “scholarly-political” configurations in these countries.
°
Holocaust Scholarship in Belarus: General Trends by Leonid Rein
°
The Holocaust in Bulgaria: Rescuing History from ‘Rescue’ by Steven F. Sage
°
Holocaust Research and Infrastructure in Hungary by László Csősz and Ádám Gellért
°
The Evolution of Holocaust Studies in Moldovan Historiography: 1991–2017 by
Diana Dumitru
°
Studying Russia or the Soviet Union? Holocaust Scholarship in Contemporary Russia by Kiril Feferman

Find the articles online under: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rdap20/current

Inquiries and requests to submit materials to “Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust” should be sent to dapim_h@univ.haifa.ac.il

Head of the Editorial Board: Arieh Kochavi
Editors: Kobi Kabalek, Wendy Lower, Gavriel Rosenfeld
Deputy Editor: Michal Aharony


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