Day 4: Historical & Database Presentations
The members of the fourth cohort highly anticipated our trip to Jerusalem for the four-day seminar at Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem is a world-renowned research institution and museum, and its partnership with the University of Haifa is of particular benefit to the students in the program. The four-day seminar was meaningful and educational. Read on for a break down of the fourth day!
On the morning of our last day at Yad Vashem the annual lecture of the John Najmann Chair of Holocaust Studies was held. The speaker was Dr. Angel Chorapchiev who spoke about forced labor and survival in the Jewish labor camps in Bulgaria during WWII. Jews in Bulgaria were removed from the army and transferred to labor brigades to satisfy outside German demands. From 1941 to 1943 the conditions in the labor camps worsened. Dr. Chorapchiev’s presentation utilized many photographs and even one rare film of the Jewish labor camps in Bulgaria. Many of these photographs and the film resembled those of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the US. Laborers were smiling and looked healthy. In the film there were even recreation scenes. They did not resemble images that come to mind when we think of slave labor during the Holocaust. It forced studnts to remember that this was coerced labor, that these people were separated from and worried about their families, and it cautioned researchers about using footage without analyzing the context, source, and their purpose. The presentation really highlighted the fact that one can’t make generalizations about the Holocaust because the situation of Jews differed vastly depending on place and even time.
The final two presentations were both by Library and Archives staff. They focused on the databases that Yad Vashem has for conducting research including online exhibitions like Transport to Extinction and the International Tracing Service. Lital Beer from the Reference and Information Service discussed the number and variety of sources in the Yad Vashem collection, most of which are not digitized. Zvi Bernhardt discussed the challenges of name variants when searching the pages of testimony and how complicated it is to search the International Tracing Service.
The four day seminar at Yad Vashem was packed full of educational and meaningful experiences. In addition to the scheduled lectures and tours, students were able to spend three afternoons in the Yad Vashem Library & Archives doing research on individual projects and papers. Overall it was an incredible experience and we are very lucky to have a partnership with Yad Vashem that enables us to provide a behind the scenes look at the Museum and memorials to our students, and to expose them to leading scholars in the field.
Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program? You can find the application and more information at our website: http://holocaust-studies.haifa.ac.il/