Current Events, Current Students, Newsletter, Program News, Research, Uncategorized

Newsletter Fall 2017


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Fall 2017

We were happy to welcome this last October a group of new young students, who constitute our sixth Cohort. These students – from Israel, the U.S., Canada, England, Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Ukraine, will be studying with us for the next 12 months, touring Holocaust related sites, interning at museums, schools and research centers and working on their own independent research. We look forward to sharing their meaningful year with you all in our blog and newsletters.
We are happy to share with you some of the highlights of the last few months, as well as to let you know what to expect in the coming months. We have a very exciting year ahead!Please let everyone know that we are now accepting applications for the 2018-19 academic year and are 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.

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

Program News

malloryCohort V Student Reflects on Her Life Changing Year

It has already been three months since we said goodbye to Cohort V. Our student Mallory reflects on her life changing year, shares her plans for the future, and gives advice for the students of Cohort VI…

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Iternational Internship Announcement

Each year students of our program are encouraged to apply for our prestigious intenational internships. They are an amazing opportunity for our students to gain professional, hands-on experience while networking, paving the way for their future careers in the field of Holocaust Studies. Students are given a scholarship from the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies to help cover their accommodation and airfares. We are proud to announce the students who will be undertaking our internships this academic year!

jasmine_0Jasmine Munn-McDonnell, Cohort V
The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide, London

What inspired you to apply for our international internships and what makes you most excited about interning at the Wiener Library in London?

I would have been crazy to not apply for this round of international internships. One of the things that most attracted me to this program before applying was the partnerships with world-class museums and institutions. To gain professional experience abroad on top of the MA was an opportunity that was not to be missed! I am excited to intern at the Wiener Library specifically because it has such a rich and fascinating history. The library was founded in 1933 and was in operation during the Holocaust. The library’s mission today of supporting research, learning, teaching and advocacy about the Holocaust and genocide is important and something that I am passionate about. And, needless to say, I am excited to spend five weeks living in London!

What kind of work will you be doing at the Wiener Library?

At the library, I will be working on numerous projects. I will be working with the Library’s social media and helping with the launch of their new website and Facebook page. I will be in London for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and at that time of year, the Library holds a debate for young people, which I will be helping to formulate questions for. Also while I am interning, the Library and the University of London are running a conference entitled Beyond Camps and Forced Labour: Current International Research on Survivors of Nazi Persecution, which is something that I will be helping out with.

hana_1Hana Green, Cohort V
Virginia Holocaust Museum, Richmond

Hana will be working under the supervision of the museum’s Senior Historian, Dr. Charles Sydnor, and with Director of Education, Megan Ferenczy, on several educational projects and educational outreach programs. Additionally, she will be helping out with tours and the ongoing care and upgrading of exhibits during her time at the Virginia Holocaust Museum

eugenia_1-e1...Eugenia Mihalcea, Cohort V
POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw

Eugenia will be working on a project at the museum that involves using oral testimony from the USC Shoah Foundation to create IWalks (video segments that can be used on guided tours to provide historical context to sites).



eugenia_1-e1...Mallory N., Cohort V
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C.
Mallory will be completing a fellowship at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. Her research is titled: “The British-American Diplomat and the Lithuanian Nationalist: The relationship of John Mazionis and Stasys Žakevičius during the years 1939-1961”.

roteminternshipRotem Zilber, Cohort IV
The Jewish Museum in Budapest

Rotem will be interning at the Jewish Museum in Budapest, focusing on Holocaust education. Rotem, a teacher, will enhance her skills as a teacher by working in a different cultural setting




hirshDr. David Hirsh Speaks about Contemporary Left Antisemitism

The Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies had the pleasure of hosting Dr. David Hirsh, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, who spoke about the subject matter of his new book: Contemporary Left Antisemitism. Hirsh’s book covers a range of issues surrounding contemporary left antisemitism in the United Kingdom…

Read more…


mallindAlumni Activities

Congratulations to Mallory (Cohort V) and Lindsay Shapiro (Cohort III) who recently presented their research at the Seventh International Conference for Jewish Studies Researchers in Warsaw. Mallory’s presentation was titled “Through the Decades: The Jewish Perception of the Great Provocation and its Aftermath”, and Lindsay presented on “Polish Immigration to Israel during the Polish Anti-Zionist Campaign 1967-1970”.

Welcoming Cohort VI


On 12 November, Doron Livnat, the son of Yitzhak Livnat, and his wife Marian visited and welcomed Cohort VI to the program. Regrettably, this is the first cohort since the creation of our program who did not have the opportunity to hear Yitzhak speak. We are so thankful to have had Yitzhak as a dear friend and partner.

The Livnat family, through their generosity, continues to impact our program and students. Their annual donation allows students from different countries to spend a year in Israel and dedicate their time and energy to researching the Holocaust. We are forever grateful to Honorary Dr. Livnat and his wife Marian for their continued support. We will never forget Yitzhak and his legacy and promise to carry it on.

Holocaust Survivor Micha Gelber and his wife also joined Doron and Marian. Micha shared his story with Cohort VI.

Read Micha Gelber’s story here

Meet Cohort VI

malloryOlga Kartashova, Russia

MA in Comparative History and Jewish studies at the Central European University in Budapest.

My main interests in the field are the history of the Holocaust in Poland and in the USSR and its aftermath, memorialization, politics of memory, mythology, historiography, and war crimes trials in Eastern Europe.

I am interested in how Jewish, Polish and Soviet agencies together with Nuremberg Tribunal formed the memory of Holocaust and helped to remember/forget the crimes connected to Nazi death camps in Poland.

malloryAndreea Camelia Tudor, Romania

B.A English and Romanian literature, University of Bucharest; MA in Jewish Studies, Paidea University, Sweden.

Everything started with a poem. I was a first year Bachelor’s student studying literature at the University of Bucharest and I came across Paul Celan’s famous Death Fugue. I had read it thousands times before, but did not internalize it until that moment of clarity. My interpretative lenses changed in that moment. I was repeating and combining the phrases and realized how vividly Holocaust imagery plays in my head. Years passed by and I found myself driving indirectly towards researching the Holocaust in Romania.

Read more about Olga and Andreea here

What to Expect This Year


The Ghez Collection Catalogue and Exhibition

In 1978 Dr. Oscar Ghez, a Swiss art collector, donated his collection of works of art by artists who perished in the Holocaust to the University of Haifa. Consisting of paintings, watercolours, drawings and scultures, the collection includes over 130 works by 18 artists who lived and worked in Paris before the Holocaust. Arrested by the Nazis and their French collaborators, many of these artists were interned in the transit camps of Drancy, Gurs, Compiègne before being deported East to death camps. Ghez conceived of the collection as a memorial to artists who perished in the Holocaust, but it is also an important record of their lives and creativity.

In 2017 the students of Cohort V worked with Dr. Rachel Perry, researching these 18 artists and compiling a new catalogue of their works.

We are proud to share the digital version of the catalogue, which is available to view online here.

In the Spring of 2018 we are excited to be opening an exhibition of the Ghez Collection of Jewish Artists Who Perished in the Holocaust in the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa. Students of Cohort VI will have the opportunity to work with Dr. Rachel Perry as an internship curating and installing the exhibition.

jagieJagiallonian University

Our program enjoys a close cooperation with the Jagiallonian University in Krakow, Poland. We have hosted Dr. Edyta Gawron for a series of lectures on the Jews of Poland and our students were hosted by Dr. Ewa Wegrzyn and her students. This year through the EU program of Erasmus, we will host professors from the Jagiallonian University and facilitate student’s exchange between the two institutions.

NYjewishHeritage Museum

We are pleased to share with you our new partnership with the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York. From 2018 students will have the opportunity to undertake 4-8 week internships at the Jewish Heritage Museum in New York as well as at their partner institution, the Auschwitz Jewish Center in Poland or New York.

coursesMulti-disciplinary Courses

As well as providing our students with a strong historical foundation of the Holocaust, students of our multi-disciplinary program have the opportunity to enrol in a wide range of courses that cover a number of academic approaches. Some of the multidisciplinary courses offered to our students this year are…

Read more…

ihrig2016Faculty Feature: Prof. Stefan Ihrig

Professor Stefan Ihrig received his BA degree in Law and Politics at the Queen Mary University in London, his MA degree in History, Turcology and Political Science at the Free University of Berlin and his PhD in History at the University of Cambridge….

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s200_carol.k...Faculty Feature: Dr. Carol Kidron

Dr. Carol A. Kidron is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Haifa. She teaches Anthropology of Memory, Trauma and Commemoration in the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies…

Read more…

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Current Events, Current Students, Guest Lecturers, Program News, Research Forum, Uncategorized

Dr. David Hirsh speaks at the University of Haifa about Contemporary Left Antisemitism

hirshToday the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies had the pleasure of hosting Dr. David Hirsh, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, who spoke about the subject matter of his new book: Contemporary Left Antisemitism. Hirsh’s book covers a range of issues surrounding contemporary left antisemitism in the United Kingdom, from the Livingstone Formulation (that bringing up antisemitism is more offensive than antisemitism itself to particular progressives), antisemitism and antizionism in the British Labour Party, to assorted boycotts of Israelis, Israel, and supporters of Israel. Hirsh, in his book and in his lecture at the University of Haifa, provides an analysis and critique of the various left-wing antisemitic and antizionist discourses and movements in Britain today.

In his informative and thought-provoking lecture, Hirsh discussed some of the characteristics and manifestations of contemporary left antisemitism. For example, Hirsh noted that left antisemitism is often dressed up and is attempted to be passed off as antizionism – something which is tolerated and deemed relatively acceptable in the mainstream today. It seems that to be left-wing and antisemitic is an oxymoron, given the left’s tradition of anti-racism. However, antisemites of the left, Hirsh argues, often do not even recognize that their rhetoric in fact holds hostility towards Jews. In his lecture, Hirsh also demonstrated many similarities between the tenets of both left and right wing antisemites, such as contempt for democracy, and suspicions of international corporations and trade, which supposedly hide the true power structures of the world.


Hirsh went on to discuss some of the worrying aspects of antisemitism creeping into the mainstream through both the avenues of the populous left and the populous right. Hirsh recalled Hannah Arendt by noting that we must not forget that Nazism was viewed by many Germans as a radical and exciting movement that people wanted to be a part of. Hirsh explained that today people have a “plastic” understanding of the Nazis and forget that it did not start straight away with characteristics of 1939; it was something that grew and manifested from small kernels of supposed rationality. Today there is the problem that many have forgotten the past and say that the political situation “couldn’t be worse,” which, indeed, it could be if people blindly follow and cease to engage in intellectual discussion and debate.


Hirsh wrapped up his talk by speaking about the effects of the left’s antisemitism on the Jewish community of the United Kingdom. Hirsh explained that while contemporary left antisemitism is certainly of concern, many British Jews do not face antisemitism in everyday life and are safe on the streets. But, if one is involved in politics (student or other) then they are likely to experience it.

Ending the lecture on a more positive note, Hirsh optimistically stated that the fight in the Labour Party and in the United Kingdom is not finished yet and is not even close to being finished. As long as the discourse remains lively and people can still write and debate, there is hope.

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

Current Events, Current Students

A Reflection on Cohort V


Students sitting with donors, Marianne and Doron Livnat and Director of the Program, Arieh Kochavi. 

Our year with Cohort V is coming to an end. We will be with them for another month then they will return to the far reaches of the world. To celebrate our year, we held an event with our generous donors, Doron and Marianne Livnat, as we simultaneously celebrated the life of Yitzhak Weiss-Livnat. With a heavy heart we grieve the loss of our great friend and partner, but we also laud him and his family for the existence of our program. Through the family’s generosity, this year alone, they have effected 30 students, but in actuality they have infinitely changed the world as we send our students out with the tools to impact the world.


Mallory and Dr. Shmulik Lederman

Many of our students shared what it meant to them to be a part of Yitzhak Weiss-Livnat’s legacy. One of the most touching comments was from Mallory, who comes to us from California, and her research is mostly with the Einsatzgruppen and specific aktions. She spoke about Abba Kovner and his manifesto, which was a warning to Jews and pleaded them to “Resist, resist until your last our breath.” After the Holocaust, in an interview he was asked why he wrote the manifesto. He said that he wanted to ignite resistance in the Jewish people with this small flame. Mallory said that this program has been the ignition she needed to start a blazing fire, which we can all bring to our respective homes. She also commented on the diversity in the program, as we looked around the room we realized that no one was sitting next to someone like them: their neighbors were from another country, older or younger, etc. What Mallory said reflects well on our program; our diverse students are now well equipped to enter the professional world, and make a lasting impact.


Other students talked about different opportunities made available to them by the program including internships at Atlit Detention Center, the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and Yad Vashem. Our students have shaped databases, installed exhibits and formed educational programs. Other students talked about different research conferences they were able to attend; this year we sent students to Austria; Romania; Germany; and Poland. Our students have also put together a publication on Jewish artists, most of whom perished in the Holocaust, and their work before, during, and after the Holocaust. The accomplishments of this year were humbling and a good harbinger of what is to come from our impressive students.


Dr. Rachel Perry sharing about a new publication her class wrote early this year. 

Though most of our students are finished with the coursework, this isn’t a true farewell because the resources and professional network that we offer our students will always play a significant role in their professional lives. We look forward to seeing the professional progress of our students.


Wei shares about his year with Cohort V. 

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

Current Events, Holocaust Survivor

Yitzhak Weiss-Livant’s Legacy


Yitzhak Weiss-Livnat with his wife, and director Yael Granot-Bein.

With a heavy heart, we announce the death of Yitzhak Weiss-Livnat in late March, 2017. The Livnat family invited Cohort V to the funeral which was held March 28. We were fortunate to have Yitzhak Livnat as a central element to our program, every cohort since the inception of the program has heard Yitzhak’s testimony.

Doron Livnat, Yitzhak’s son, shared with Cohort V earlier this week. Doron told the story of when Yitzhak started to talk about the Holocaust. During his childhood and even into adulthood, Doron’s father never talked about the Holocaust. Everyday at 2 o’clock the family would listen to the radio, in Israel for several years after the Holocaust the Israeli radio hosted a program that allowed survivors to announce the names of those they were looking for. Faithfully, the Livnat family listened, but never talked about the names Yitzhak was hoping to hear. Then during the Eichmann trial the family dutifully listened, but again they never talked about the Holocaust.


Weiss-Livnat Family and Cohort V

When Doron met a German woman, Marian, now his wife, he decided to study in Germany. On Saturdays and Sundays they would walk their dog through the forest, and Yitzhak would visit often. One day as they walked through the forest, behind some houses, the farmer’s dogs started barking at the small group. Yitzhak sarcastically said, “On the death marches, the dogs would bark and bark, and the farmers saw nothing.” Doron was surprised and shocked, but Marian asked Yitzhak to share more. Doron was even more astonished when his father divulged more.


Yitzhak Weiss-Livnat and his wife with students from the program.

This was in 1978, since then Yitzhak has shared his testimony all over the world. Through his testimony, he inspired the audience to compassion and tolerance. Yitzhak fought hate and the ugliness of this world which he knew all too well. We’re all aware of the ignorance that continues, which is prevalent in today’s politics. Doron shared that the Livnat family sees the Weiss-Livnat Holocaust Studies program as Yitzhak’s legacy. We are proud to carry his name, and share his values. Doron charged us to “fight the deniers and to teach the ignorant.”


Doron Livnat speaking to previous students about his father.

Current Events, Newsletter, Program News

Newsletter: Spring 2017

Screenshot 2015-06-14 15.23.43

Newsletter: Spring 2017

Thank you for following the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa. Your support and interest help to make our program successful. As we are getting ready to begin our Spring semester, we would like to share a few of the successes we’ve had this year with you.


Our students looking for original historical material at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum archives, preparing for the publication of a catalog in the Holocaust Art class, February 2017.

A new book by our faculty:
The Creation of German-Jewish-Diaspora: German-Jewish immigration to Palestine, the United States and England,
Prof. Hagit Lavsky

Lavsky_Hagit2We are fortunate to have Professor Hagit Lavsky work with our students in a number of capacities, including lecturer, and academic advisor. We are proud to announce that Prof. Lavsky has recently published another book, The Creation of the German-Jewish Diaspora: Interwar German-Jewish immigration to Palestine, the United States and England. This book has been a labor of love for Prof. Lavsky, she started the research process more than ten years ago; she used archives in Israel, Britain, the USA, and Germany.

In her book, Prof. Lavsky reveals the complex connection between the socio-economic profile varieties and the decisions about when and where to immigrate and compares the life of immigrants in the three major overseas destinations: Palestine (then under the British Mandate), the United States and England. Interwar emigration from Germany did not start in 1933 – the crucial year of the Nazi access to power. In fact, during the 1920s tens of thousands of Germans and German Jews emigrated mainly because of economic factors, partly this had to do with the economic crisis in Germany following WWI and partly due to the Great Depression. Another factor was the rising Anti-Semitism. Most German Jewish immigrants went to the United States and a minority came to Palestine. The few thousand Jews that immigrated to Palestine during the 1920s were the ones to set up an infrastructure for immigrating German Jews after the Nazi access to power in 1933.

Following the rise of Hitler, emigration grew dramatically, but encompassed only a minority among German Jews. Many of the early emigrants, between the years 1933 and 1935, went to Palestine. Immigration to the United States was very limited since 1924 on, and particularly following the economic crisis of 1929. In contrast, Mandate Palestine was prospering in the first half of the 1930s, and became the most open overseas destination to Jewish immigrants. Palestine also benefited from the Transfer Agreement between the Jewish Agency and the Nazi government that gave preference to immigrants to Palestine by enabling them to transfer their capital.

At this time, it was natural for young Jewish people to emigrate from Germany. They had more prospects there than elsewhere, In Germany many Jews were not allowed to work, specifically in the wide German public sector. As a result, most of the emigrants were young and of white-collar professional background.

To some extent, there were other socio-economic factors that shaped the emigrants’ decisions where to immigrate to. For example, in order to get a visa to the United States most needed an affidavit proving they would not become a burden on the public. Immigrants with no capital coming to Palestine didn’t need individual affidavits but had the guarantee of the Jewish Agency within an agreed quota. Prof. Lavsky deduced that more wealthy Jews immigrated to the United States and England while those less endowed went to Palestine. Of course, Zionism also was considered in this discussion.

Until 1938, German Jews were harassed in many ways, but there was no orchestrated governmental threat on their lives. For most of them, there were very poor opportunities and the idea of emigration was stressful. To claim that German Jews did not flee from Germany before 1938 because they were blindly in love with Germany is “nonsense.” In 1938 there was no choice anymore but to try and flee, the USA and England became slightly more flexible but there was no chance for most of those refuge seekers, who were trapped in Germany and doomed among other victims of the Holocaust.

The book includes individual stories as illustrations for the greater breadth of history covered. For example, Prof. Lavsky’s parents were among those immigrating to Palestine as early as 1933 and she discusses their story in the narrative, among other illustrative stories. Prof. Lavsky compares her family and other stories of immigration and adaptation in Palestine to other stories of immigrants in the United States and England.

Prof. Lavsky’s other books:
New Beginnings

Before Catastrophe

Our faculty member wins prestigious award:
Dr. Lea David Receives a Marie Curie Fellowship

To best announce this news, we thought we would interview Dr. Lea David about her experience.

leaQ: How did you find out about this award?
A: Well, to be honest, whoever is in this research “business” dreams of getting Marie Curie fellowship – Europe’s most competitive and prestigious award funded by the European European Commission. I don’t know when I heard about it for the first time, but it was on my “wish list” since I started developing my identity as a researcher.

Q: What was the application process like?
A: The application process is extremely unfriendly, long and tiring – it takes great amount of nerves and patience to apply for the fellowship! It is even more complicated for non-Europeans that are not familiar with the application format and the jargon one needs to use to get the application ready.

Q: What will you be directing your studies toward?
A: Both Holocaust and genocide historiographies are heavily shaped and influenced by human rights infrastructures, resulting in discourses, practices and recently also memorialization policies that impact back on nationalist ideologies. During my two-year long Marie Curie fellowship, I will investigate the ways in which the human rights understanding of memorialization processes advocates, understands, promotes and mandates supposedly universal memorialization standards, asking whether in so doing it weakens or by contrast, often strengthens ethnic nationalism. Five case studies will be comparatively analyzed: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel and Palestine. Hopefully, my research will provide a new perspective on the impact that mandating human rights memorialization standards has on the perception of the “self” and “other” and nationalist ideologies.

Q: Who is Prof. Sinisa Malesevic, and what made you want to work with him?
A: Prof. Sinisa Malesevic is a world leading expert on the comparative-historical and theoretical study of ethnicity, nationalism, ideology, war, violence, genocide and sociological theory and author of six books, five edited volumes and over 70 peer-reviewed articles. Not only is Prof. Malesevic a brilliant scholar but he is an excellent and dedicated mentor and most importantly very nice person with great sense of humor, which is, frankly, of enormous importance for me.

Q: Will you be studying in Dublin?
A: Staring from September 2017, I will be hosted by the School of Sociology, at University College Dublin (UCD), the largest and the best department for sociological research in Ireland. I will receive there additional training and conduct my research. I will have my own office space with all the necessary utilities, so writing a full-length manuscript is my ultimate goal.

Q: Any other comments you would like add?
A: With the cutting-edge research on Holocaust and genocide related issues, I am positive that once I am back in Israel, the “Marie Curie experience” will make my involvement with the MA Holocaust program in Haifa even more significant and substantial as, needless to say, those issues affect thousands of lives around the globe in many unpredictable ways and are in the very heart of the current political and policy making trends.

Prof. Jan Grabowski Offers
Online Course to Our Students

grabowski_smallHistorian, Dr. Jan Grabowski, will be visiting the University of Haifa in May to film an online course which will be available to our students in October 2017. The course will be about the Jews of Poland during the war. Currently, Dr. Grabowski is a Full Professor at the University of Ottawa. He is also 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 MA is in History from Warsaw University, Poland, and his PhD is from the  Université de Montréal. He specializes in Polish Jewish relations during the Holocaust, he is also a prolific writer in the topic. At the University of Ottawa he teaches undergraduate and graduate course on the Holocaust.

Students of Cohort V

John RoxboroughJohn

Trinidad and Tobago
United States
BS in Mass Communications from Florida International University

“The field of Holocaust studies offers me the opportunity to study material that is the focus of my upcoming documentary film.
Visiting the places in Poland and Germany where many brave souls eventually lost their lives will give context to the stories of the survivors, and enrich my own understanding of the lives that were lived under the most trying of circumstances.”

HanaHana Green

United States
BA in History from the University of Florida

“This program is exceptional. Having the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree in Israel with a renowned staff of educators, engaging coursework and a supportive community of colleagues is astounding. I am so grateful for the opportunity to intern at Yad Vashem and participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary extracurricular activities offered by the program such as field trips and seminars across the country as well as a study tour in Poland.”

Avshalom NachmaniAvi

BA in Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science from Ben Gurion University

“Coming to Haifa once a week is a blessed break for me. The courses, the students, the overall atmosphere, it allows me to free my mind and truly learn something new.
On the long drive home I usually organize my thoughts, process what I learned and think how to translate it into my teaching.
I’m constantly amazed by the guest lectures in the research forum and by the relevance of the courses.
I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to attend this program.”

MoiraMoira LaMountain

United States
BA in History from the University of Albany

“One of the things I love most about the program is the opportunity to study Yiddish. I studied a little Yiddish previous to the program and understood how important, particularly with regards to Eastern European Jewry, the language is. I get questioning looks every time I mention I study Yiddish, but when I’m able to translate documents from the Holocaust that have gone untouched and forgotten, it opens up a door into that writer’s life and experience that had been unknown previously. That person is no longer just another victim or number, they have a personality and a story that gets to be told. I’m incredibly thankful that the University of Haifa has allowed me to continue my studies in Yiddish and offered me the chance to use what I’ve learned towards furthering our understanding of the Holocaust.”

Research Forum Lecture | Excavations at Sobibor

Since 2007, Israeli Archaeologist, Yoram Haimi, and Polish Archaeologist, Wojciech Mazurek, have been excavating at the former Reinhard Extermination Camp site, which was created by the SS in Sobibor, occupied Poland. Yoram came to share his research with Cohort V for a Research Forum lecture. All that had been known about Sobibor before the excavation was from about 50 survivors. From their testimonies, historians have made educated guesses on what the camp must have looked like and what happened there. After the uprising in October 1943, the Nazis razed the camp and planted trees to hide their crimes.


The excavation has revealed some inaccuracies of what has been thought about Sobibor and also proved historian’s theories. The project has made a completely new map of the camp. Originally the major goal of the project was to find the gas chambers. After 7 years they found the foundations of the gas chambers under asphalt which was laid as a foundation to two Polish memorials that were constructed at Sobibor following the war. In the process they found a lot of other details which made the story of Sobibor more complete, such as the escape tunnel that some of the survivors have mentioned.

Sobibor was built in March 1942, as well as other death camps, Treblinka and Bełżec as a part of Operation Reinhard. From April 1942 to October 1943 about 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor. Just like the other death camps there were three main sections of the camp: reception, administration, and extermination. At any one time only about 100 Jews lived at Sobibor. They were forced to aid in the extermination of their own people. Of these workers, around 50 survivor. Their testimonies constructed what was known of Sobibor, now the excavations complete this information.


The excavation has revealed some inaccuracies of what has been thought about Sobibor and also proved historian’s theories. The project has made a completely new map of the camp. Originally the major goal of the project was to find the gas chambers. After 7 years they found the foundations of the gas chambers under asphalt which was laid as a foundation to two Polish memorials that were constructed at Sobibor following the war. In the process they found a lot of other details which made the story of Sobibor more complete, such as the escape tunnel that some of the survivors have mentioned.

Sobibor was built in March 1942, as well as other death camps, Treblinka and Bełżec as a part of Operation Reinhard. From April 1942 to October 1943 about 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor. Just like the other death camps there were three main sections of the camp: reception, administration, and extermination. At any one time only about 100 Jews lived at Sobibor. They were forced to aid in the extermination of their own people. Of these workers, around 50 survivor. Their testimonies constructed what was known of Sobibor, now the excavations complete this information.


The excavation includes a team of Polish people from the area, and volunteers. One of our students from Cohort II volunteered and wrote a blog post about it. You can read it here.

For more information, check out the articles below:

Yad Vashem

Leiden News

The Independent

Der Spiegel

Research Forum Lecture | Night Will Fall

This semester in the Research Forum our students watched the documentary “Night Will Fall.” The film retells the story of liberation using film from British archives shot in 1945. The British government used this raw footage to create a film titled, “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey.” The original footage reveals a small portion of the horrors the liberators found, yet the images are overwhelming. Director, Andre Singer, explores the significance of the original British documentary which remained untouched in archives for 70 years.


Much of the footage from different liberations in 1945 concentrate on the shocking, inhumane conditions within the camps, showing graphic content. Singer included survivors and liberators in the film which gave the images context. They identified themselves in different segments of film, many of the survivors remembered being filmed and relayed their impressions of this and so much more.


Singer’s documentary also discusses the historical impact of the original film from 1945. After the 1945 documentary, “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey,” was completed they decided not to show it anywhere, and put it in archives, where Andre Singer found it. The film would have been shown as a sort of “atrocity propaganda” but the British government felt that it would not be conducive to the de-nazifacation process. The questions “Night Will Fall” addresses are: Is it appropriate to show the truth? Would this film have furthered tensions between Germans and the Allies? Who is responsible for making these decisions: governments or individuals?


Regardless, the documentary is a reminder of the dark potential of humanity. The title of the documentary was derived from narration from the original 1945 film, “Unless the world learns the lesson these pictures teach, night will fall.”

Before you open these links, know that there are very graphic images shown:

you can see the full trailer here:

or you can access the full film here:

New Theses Our Students Published

Representation of the Haredi Communities in Holocaust Museums in Israel

Lisa_KrebsLisa Krebs
BA in Theology and Religion from the University of Birmingham
Cohort II


Museums display their materials and subjects with unique perspectives, often influenced by the museum’s vision. Holocaust Museums in Israel are no exception, and whilst the museums all explore the topic of Holocaust, they each present a different narrative. In turn, groups from different parts of society that endured the Holocaust will have had different experiences. This study explores four different Holocaust museums in Israel (Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum, Yad Vashem, Testimony House and Chamber of the Holocaust) and how they display and exhibit the experience of the Haredi communities during the Holocaust. This examination will delve into the different ways that museums utilize artifacts, photographs and the written narrative, and to what extent these represent Haredi communities.

The thesis first introduces the theoretical underpinning of the study, including definitions of Haredim and discussion of museums and Holocaust museums in particular. The first, second and third chapters then explore how artifacts, photographs and written narrative are used to represent the Haredi communities in these museums’ displays respectively. The thesis shows that mission statements of museums and the communities that commissioned and established them, heavily influence the exhibitions, which in turn influences the way and extent that Haredi communities are discussed and displayed.

Concern for Others in Nazi Germany: 
Searching for Markers of Empathy in Germans’ Emotional Responses to the Persecution of the Jews, 1933-1945

Ronit.jpgRonit Roth-Hanania

BA in Psychology from Tel Aviv University, MA in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College at Columbia University, PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology from Fordham University
Cohort I

The Persecution of the Jews under the National Socialist regime began in 1933 and ended with the destruction of European Jewry in 1945. During the years of Hitler’s rule, Jews were excluded, segregated, haunted, and finally, annihilated. Such happened at first in Germany and later in the occupied territories all over Europe.

This study focused on three historical periods in search of markers of empathy in the emotional responses of ‘ordinary Germans’ to the persecution of the Jews. At the time, the Nazi administration had under its control, a network of 30,000 agents and informants that reported on the opinions, reactions and mood of the German public with regard to the administration’s actions in general and its anti-Jewish measures in particular. Historians’ analyses of the reactions of Germans as they were portrayed in the ‘secret’ reports were the foundation for the overall agreement between Holocaust scholars, that the German public at large was indifferent to the fate of the Jews in Germany. The indifferent apathetic population was seen therefore, not merely as innocent bystanders to the ongoing persecution, but rather as passive partners to the active Nazi mass murder of the Jews.

Empathy is an inborn, vicarious socio-economic response that is evoked in an observer when seeing another in distress. The empathetic response is composed of three major components: an emotional component which is expressed through feelings of concern, the feeling for the other person, sympathy or compassion; a cognitive component that includes all attempts to inquire and/or better understand the other’s situation and state; and a behavioral component which is usually expressed through pro-social helping behavior, assisting, rescuing, or exhibiting altruism. In the present study, personal accounts of a hundred ‘ordinary Germans,’ including letters, memoirs, diaries, interviews, testimonies and surveys were reviewed and analyzed in search of markers of empathy. These primary sources were compared and contrasted with the Nazi secret reports, in order to uncover discrepancies, if exist, between what the official documents suggest was the overall response of the German public and what individuals felt and experienced in response to the Jews’ maltreatment.

In all three periods, comparison of sources suggested that while the secret reports portrayed a picture of an indifferent public, in fact, ‘ordinary Germans’ expressed concern and sympathy towards the Jews’ situation and have also inquired and searched for information on their whereabouts. This study proposes therefore, that ordinary individuals in Germany between 1933 and 1945 felt empathy towards the Jews. These emotions were kept secret, were expressed in private writings, or discussed only in a close and secure circle of friends and families. Since no overt pro-social actions were taken nor was protest expressed in the open, the German population was perceived and tagged by historians as indifferent participants in the Jew’s genocide

Internships in Israel

We offer our students a rich variety of internship opportunities in Israel and abroad. Whether it is researching, curating or educating, our students get hands-on experience. Alexa is interning with Holocaust survivors and working with AMCHA, The Israeli Center for Psychological and Social Support for Holocaust survivors and their families; Meredith is interning at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum and Archives and Eugenia’s internship provides her with a research opportunity at the “Deportation of Jews” project at Yad Vashem. They have answered our questions about their experience, as had Wei (Aaron) Zhang, who recently returned from his internship at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.
Learn more about our internship program here. 

Alexa || AMCHA

 Alexa is from California, US.
Her BA is in Persuasive Communications from IDC Herzliya.

alexaQ: What will you be doing at with AMCHA?
A: At AMCHA, I will be working one on one with a Holocaust survivor. Visiting and spending time with them once a week. It’s an opportunity for survivors to develop a new connection with someone and for me it’s a huge privilege to hear their story.

Q: What makes you most excited to be working with AMCHA ?
A: AMCHA is a very special organization that does a huge service to Holocaust survivors and their children, the opportunity to develop a working relationship with them is a rare opportunity.

Q: What brought you working with AMCHA?
A: I was attracted to working with AMCHA for personal reasons. My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor and I was lucky to have had the chance to spend time with her in her later years after I moved to Israel. She passed away two years ago, but I will always treasure our time together. To meet and spend time with another survivor, someone else’s grandmother, is not only an amazing learning opportunity but also an opportunity to do something good for my soul.

Q: Who will you be working with? or who would you like to volunteer with?
A: The volunteer coordinator at AMCHA has been very helpful in pairing me with a survivor who can help with my thesis research. My area of study within Holocaust research is on the psychological impact of the Holocaust for women on motherhood and family life post Holocaust. I have been set up with a female survivor who is open to discussing this topic with me. This is a primary resource that I could never have found elsewhere.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: AMCHA is a wonderful organization dedicated to providing counseling and trauma services for Holocaust survivors and their children. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with them.

Meredith || Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum

 Meredith is from Upstate New York, US.
Her BA is in History from Alfred University.

MeredithQ: What will you be doing at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum? (what are you leaning toward researching?)
A: This year we have a small handful of students who have internships at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum. A few weeks ago we met with Anat Bratman- Elhalel, Head of Archives. She oriented us with the museum and she gave us an idea of what we will be doing for our internships. We will be picking artifacts from the archives to research for ourselves. We can direct our research to fit our areas of interest. I’m specifically interested in art in the Holocaust. The Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum has an amazing collection of art made at transit camps, concentration camps and ghettos.

Q: What makes you most excited to be working at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum?
A: Last semester, I took the Ghez Collection Course. During the course of the semester, the students chose different artists to research. I chose to do my research on Adolphe Feder, a Polish resistance fighter and artist, he was killed at Auschwitz. Sima Feder, Adolphe’s wife, survived the Holocaust, she smuggled all of her husband’s artwork out of Drancy and donated them to the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum. I would like to work with Feder’s work again. He has amazing use of color and expression, and his story is little known but important.

Q: What brought you working with the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum?
A: Eila Perkis, the internship coordinator, interviewed us about our internships and what we wanted out of them, I told her that I wanted to work with art. She said, “Oh, then you should be at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum.” I didn’t know much about the museum at that point, but now I’m so delighted to be working with them. It’s an honor to be working at the first established Holocaust Museum, their archives are impressive.

Q: Who will you be working with?
A: We’ll be working directly with Anat, the Head of Archives.

Q: What is your area of speciality within Holocaust Studies?
A: I would say that my area of interest is Art History in the Holocaust. At the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum I will be able to concentrate solely on art in my research.

Eugenia || Yad Vashem

Eugenia is from Romania.
Her BA is in Journalism from Hyperion University and BA in Jewish Studies from University of Bucharest. She also has an MA in Hebrew Culture and Civilization from the University of Bucharest

eugeniaQ: What will you be doing at Yad Vashem?
A: The project I am working with is called Deportations of Jews – a Yad Vashem 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.

Q: What makes you most excited to be working at Yad Vashem?
A: As an MA student at the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa I had the opportunity to meet Professors and Researchers from Yad Vashem. They lectured about different topics on the Holocaust and WWII, how to read articles from an analytical point of view, how to write and much more. At Yad Vashem, I’m learning how to research on a new level.
Last but not least, the project Deportations is interesting and challenging. We have a blank map and an enormous database that helps us fill it with content. The database has been constructed from a wide variety of: documents, research, legal material, survivors’ testimonies and memoirs. And we connect them creating the journey of Jews from the moment they were thrown out from their home in a tiny village or town till the moment they ended up in a camp.

Q: What brought you working with Yad Vashem?
A: MA students at the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies have this amazing internship opportunity and many others. For an MA student who wants to do research in the future this is the normal path to follow.

Q: Who will you be working with?
A: Dr. Joel Zisenwine is the Project Director. He and Ms. Aviv Shashar, the Project Coordinator and Researcher, are the ones who guide me as an intern.

Q: What is your area of specialty within Holocaust Studies?
A: I am interested in Memory Studies, working mainly on testimonies of Holocaust survivors from Transnistria. I started my research at the “Elie Wiesel” National Institute for the Study of Holocaust in Romania as an intern.

International Internship

Jewish Museum Berlin:
Written by: Wei (Aaron) Zhang

 Wei (Aaron) is from China.
He has a BA and MA in German Studies from Sichuan International Studies University. He was in our fourth cohort so he also has an MA in Holocaust Studies.

Two German-speaking students are selected and given the opportunity to work at the Jewish Berlin museum’s main exhibit and other select projects. This prestigious opportunity is award by a small committee in the Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies Program. We are delighted to provide this experience for our students. Wei gained experience and offered a lot to the Jewish Museum Berlin. 

I had the honor to participate in a 4-week internship at Jewish Museum Berlin, one of the largest and best Jewish museums in the world, working with the team for the new permanent exhibition. It has been a wonderful enrichment for my Holocaust Studies in the University of Haifa.


6-translation-workBecause my internship was very short I consulted with my tutor and other colleagues in the museum and we decided to make the internship two major parts: learning and contributing. My first project was to get a general picture how a large museum like this works, especially when it comes to teamwork for the permanent exhibition, and gain a better understanding of the Jewish culture and history through all the resources in Berlin and nearby; second, I worked in the archives related to Shanghai and contributed to it.Last year while I was attending a curating lecture during a four-day study with my classmates at Yad Vashem I was attracted to an artifact which was not yet shown to the public – a red scarf from Ravensbrück concentration camp with a Chinese signature at the bottom.


After this, I always wanted to know more about the fate of this lady. While working at the Museum archives, I was able to arrange a private meeting with Peter Plieninger, Chairman of the Friends of the Ravensbrück Memorial, at a local café. It was a wonderful experience, it helped me understand the background of this camp so that I could explore more about the mysterious Chinese lady in the Ravensbrück concentration camp.


The story of this special Chinese lady began to unfold itself: she was accused of being agent and was imprisoned by the Nazis. She was born as daughter of a Chinese diplomat, and spent her childhood in Spain, Cuba and China, so could speak Spanish, Chinese, French, English, German fluently. She was stationed as an honorary colonel in the Chinese army in 1920s in Manchuria. She was trained lawyer and pilot. She was the mistress of the feminist American playwright Natalie Clifford Barney in Paris in 1930s, and spied against Germany in 1940s. The keywords of her life like cross-dressing, female pilot and colonel, lesbian lifestyle, resistance against Nazis as a Chinese agent, etc are just so unusual and legendary for a woman in her time. However, for the most part, her life remains mysterious. Until now she was unknown in Chinese historical documents and literature.


Berlin, Kreuzberg, Juedisches Museum [ © Günter Schneider, Brussaer Weg 17, 12109 Berlin, Postbank Berlin Kto. 415097102, BLZ 10010010

In my internship I also handled artifacts concerning the life of Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Through the online archives of the museum I was able to browse most of the related artifacts. With my knowledge of the Chinese language and background, I found and corrected some inaccuracies in the description or dating of these objects. At Jewish Museum Berlin I was assigned the task of translating some Chinese texts formerly owned by the Jewish residents of Shanghai Ghetto into English. It was so exciting to have hands on experience with these objects, which have survived more than 70 years, and to imagine how these things once were related to the daily life of their owners.

Polin Museum:
Written by: Devra Katz

 Devra is from the United States.
Her BA is in in History and Sociology from The University of Texas in Austin. She is from our first cohort so she also has her MA in Holocaust Studies. Our program has an established relationship with the POLIN Museum, which provides our students with the opportunity to participate in a summer seminar there. This article was written by Devra Katz, who did the seminar last summer. 


This past summer I had the privilege of participating in the POLIN Meeting Point Summer Education School hosted at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland.  The program, a two-week seminar, invited students from Germany, Poland, and Israel to come together and, using various methodologies, explore issues related to post World War II reconstruction in Poland and Germany, and the emergence of Israeli statehood and citizenship.  This topic sparked very interesting and illuminating discussions among the students and brought to light issues of national narratives and identity politics in Poland, Germany, and Israel.

The program incorporated a multifaceted, interdisciplinary approach in order to engage participants and enhance the learning environment.  First and foremost, the seminar invited numerous prestigious scholars from Poland, Germany, and Israel to speak to the group.  Some of the best in their field, the guest scholars gave very interesting, informative, and engaging presentations which generated enlightening discussions that continued beyond the length of each session. This approach and these lectures were some of the more special aspects of the program.  Through these discussions, our international group got the opportunity to really get to know one another and delve deeper into various narratives – personal, political, historical, and national – experienced by all the participants and their various home countries.

In addition to the scholarship, we spent a great deal of time touring historic Warsaw and many sites in the city relevant to World War II, the Holocaust, and the years following the war.  Among these sites were the former Warsaw ghetto, Paviak prison, the Jewish cemetery, various monuments around the city, the Jewish Historical Institute, and many more.  We were also given access to the museum’s archives and research facilities allowing us to engage relevant material and to search for documents relevant to family histories or other research projects.  Furthermore, the group spent two days visiting the city of Wroclaw, where a Polish graduate from the Weiss-Livnat program guided us through the city’s Jewish, pre-war, and post-war history.  During the program we participated in several workshops about oral history and completed final projects using oral history interviews we conducted during the seminar.  This very packed program made for a well rounded and insightful two weeks of study, participation in cross-cultural dialogue, and a unique opportunity to meet and work with peers in our respective fields from diverse backgrounds.

The various aspects of this program provided a wonderful platform to learn a great deal, experience post-war Poland first hand, meet great people from different countries, and foster relationships, both professional and personal, that have carried on beyond the scope of the seminar.  As a student in the Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies program, this is just one of the many opportunities I have been afforded to expand my education, travel to places significant to the subject of the Holocaust and to my research, and grow as a scholar and global citizen.

One of the primary purposes of the POLIN Meeting Point program was to initiate dialogue between German, Polish, and Israeli students and work to build relationships at the grassroots level between the three countries.  I am very grateful for having participated in the program and I feel that my anticipation and expectations for this seminar were truly surpassed.  Originally from the United States, I am also still learning the Israeli national narratives and sentiments, and participation in this program furthered my understanding of the society in which I live and the community in which I learn. My time as a student in the Weiss-Livnat program has been enriched by participating in partner programs such as the POLIN Meeting Point, and I am thankful for the contribution it has made to my education and life experiences.

Dapim | Studies on the Holocaust
New Issue!


Volume 30-3
Special Issue
Holocaust Commemoration:
New Trends in Museums and Memorials

A new edition of Dapim has been published!
Find this issue online at:

Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust, 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.

Editors: Michal Aharony and Gavriel D. Rosenfeld
Guest editor: James E. Young

We are excited to share our most recent issue with you, a special issue on “New Trends in Museums and Memorials.” The essays explore the theme of Holocaust commemoration from an interdisciplinary perspective, presenting the insights of historians, sociologists, literary critics, and museum curators. Their articles examine a wide range of Holocaust museums and memorials across the globe: in Germany, Austria, Poland, Lithuania, Israel, United States, and Australia. They address a series of significant questions involving the ethics, aesthetics, and politics of representing the Holocaust: To what extent should Holocaust museums and memorials encompass other genocides and mass atrocities? How have artistic and architectural priorities shaped the designs of Holocaust museums and memorials? How do competing political interests and viewpoints shape Holocaust commemoration in different countries?

The volume includes the following nine articles: “Holocaust and Heroism in the Process of Establishing Yad Vashem (1942–1970)” by Doron Bar; “Is Eastern European ‘Double Genocide’ Revisionism Reaching Museums?” by Dovid Katz; “From the Periphery to the Center of Memory: Holocaust Memorials in Vienna” by Heidemarie Uhl; “Transmitting the Survivor’s Voice: Redeveloping the Sydney Jewish Museum” by Avril Alba; “Mixed Metaphors in Muranów: Architectural Metaphors and Meaning at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw,” by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld; “Yad Layeled at the Ghetto Fighters’ House: A Museum about Children in the Holocaust or a Museum for Children about the Holocaust?” by Nadav Heidecker; “Genocide and Relevance: Current Trends in United States Holocaust Museums” by Leah Sievers; “Subjects of Memory? On Performing Holocaust Memory in Two German Historical Museums” by Irit Dekel; “The Poetics of Memory: Aesthetics and Experience of Holocaust Remembrance in Museums” by Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich.

The issue’s nine essays explore a variety of common issues dealing with Holocaust representation in the contemporary urban environment. Readers of the essays—like visitors to the memorials and museums that are discussed in them—will no doubt come away with different insights and draw different conclusions about the changing ways in which the Holocaust is being commemorated around the world.  What these essays uniformly confirm, however, is that Holocaust commemoration continues to be a subject of intense scholarly interest.

Inquiries and requests to submit  materials to “Dapim – Studies on the Holocaust” should be sent to

The editors invite the submission of original articles in all areas of Holocaust Studies, including:

-Nazi policies against the Jews and other racial and genocidal programs
-Jewish responses to Nazism (in and outside of Europe)
-Nazi propaganda
-Ghettos and camps
-European collaboration
-War crimes trials
-Survivor testimony
-Commemoration and Museology
-World War II and its aftermath
-Holocaust literature, drama, film, art, etc.

The prize of $ 1000 (U.S. dollars) will be awarded to the best article as selected by a panel of judges. The competition is open to graduate students as well as established scholars.

We welcome submissions of 7,000-10,000 words (including footnotes) written in English and formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style.

Manuscripts should be sent to the editorial office at
To be considered for the prize all submissions should be received by the end of December 2017.

All approaches and methodologies are welcome.



for supporting the International MA Program in Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa. We are proud to have friends and followers around the world!

Current Events, Guest Lecturers, Research Forum

Lecture on the Exodus with Prof. Tony Kushner

This week in the Research Forum Professor Tony Kushner, from the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/Non-Jewish Relations and History Department at the University of Southampton, came to speak to our students. Prof. Kushner, author of The Battle of Britishness: Migrant Journeys since 1865, is currently writing two books titled: Journeys from the Abyss: The Holocaust and Co-Presents to the Holocaust. The lecture he presented to the students was about the contested memory of the Exodus 1947.


Prof. Kushner starts the lecture with a photo of a ship from Syria. 

The Exodus left France in 1947 destined for Palestine. When the ship arrived at the Haifa port it was stopped by the British. (According to the Balfour Declaration, Palestine was a British mandate, and therefore had authority in immigration.) All of the people on board, most were survivors of the Holocaust, were ordered to disembark from the ship, they were then transferred to three different ships and sent back to France. Upon arrival they were again turned away. The ships then set sail for Gibraltar, and again were denied. After two months at sea, these Jewish “illegal” immigrants were received in Hamburg, Germany. Finally, after several months of attempting to reach Palestine, the people of the Exodus were brought back and accepted into Palestine.


Exodus, 1947.

As Prof. Kushner studied this event he attempted to understand it through a variety of perspectives. He looks at the Exodus as a result of forced migration from manmade disaster, the Holocaust. He believes these studies are important and relevant to today as he, likewise, studies the situation in Syria. He’s specifically interested in the British and how they use history to justify their actions. During the Exodus crisis a war of propaganda was launched, as the story hit newspapers all over the empire and America.

Ruth Gruber, an American Journalist, wrote that Exodus was “the ship that launched a nation.” Gruber wrote a book on the Exodus which became widely popular in the States and later was produced as a feature film. The book although available in Britain did not make much of an impact on British society. To some extent this reaction was linked to the fall of the British Empire, which was likened to the fall of the Roman Empire, a tumult of chaos and corruption. It was as if media and propaganda took the moral high ground against a decrepit empire, while the British defended their stance.

And thus started the battle over history. The British government still refuses to call the Exodus by that name, because of historical significance, but rather they call it by SS President Warfield, ship’s name during the World Wars. The Exodus has zionist connotations, which the British did not want to confirm. In the newspapers, pictures were printed of the atrocities on board the ship, as Prof. Kushner says, “the facts couldn’t have been better situated for atrocity propaganda.” And the British retorted that the inhumane conditions on the ship were a result of poor Jewish leadership. A section of a poem written on the ship says, the British were using “red Jewish blood to pay for black oil.”

While on the ship, the British conducted a survey, which speaks volumes of their attitude. The survey asked four questions: Where do the Jews come from? Which if any of these Jews were in concentration camps? Did any of them fight in WWII? And are any of them associated with terrorist organizations? The popular response to the Exodus in Britain is trifold. First, not many knew the mass murder of the Jews during WWII as the Holocaust. In other words, the Holocaust is much better known today, and carries moral weight to discussions of the present day, in the 1940’s it did not carry the same weight. Furthermore, Britain was still very anti-Semitic. And lastly, there was a popular question of why Palestine was a responsibility of Britain. Prof. Kushner said “the retreat from Empire was bloody.” For example, the British didn’t have the resources to quell violent disputes in Pakistan and they simply left, a civil war then ensued.

We now know that the Jews from Exodus did eventually make it back to Palestine, soon to be Israel. But the question remains: How can we learn from the Exodus, and apply these lessons to the current geopolitical situation? Our students had good questions and held a scholarly dialogue with Prof. Kushner after his lecture. Thank you, Prof. Kushner for visiting our classroom.


Prof. Kushner with student, Tamar.

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

Current Events, Current Students, Holocaust Education

PhD Candidate Presents in Austria

Lukas Meissel, a PhD candidate within the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research at the University of Haifa, was recently invited to present his current research at the “International Conference Photographs from the camps of the Nazi Regime” in Graz, Austria. The conference was hosted by the Karl-Franzens-Universität.


Lukas’ speech is titled, “Perpetrator Photography: Motives of the Erkennungsdienst at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.” This was also the topic of his MA thesis. After his presentation he was able to get good feedback from veteran researchers in the field. It was also a great opportunity to speak with other presenters after their talks. Lukas’ PhD dissertation is also in the field of photography in the Holocaust, so attending a conference dedicated to this specific topic was significant.


The approach that Lukas takes in studying photographs is unique, but hopefully his research will change how historians look at photographs. Lukas said, often times historians use photos to bolster arguments that are founded in documentation. The manner that Lukas looks at photos is almost completely opposite. He’s basing arguments off of the photographs as they hold their own historical significance, and using documentation in tandem to create a discussion that will lead to new perspectives in Holocaust Research.


Lukas’ presentation focused on specific photos from Mauthausen Concentration camp, just outside of Linz, Austria. The group of photos that Lukas concentrated on were photos taken by the perpetrators. The photos taken inside the camps are rare, as it was forbidden in the camp, only SS-men of the Erkennungsdienst (Identification Department) were allowed to take pictures, but some still exist, these were smuggled out of the camp by some Spanish prisoners. All the photos are now in Vienna, in the Mauthausen archive.

More information on the conference and Lukas’ biography can be found here.


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