Faculty, Genocide Studies, Research, Uncategorized

Prof. Stefan Ihrig awarded book prize

Ihrig2016We are delighted to report that Professor Stefan Ihrig has been awarded the 2017 Dr. Sona Aronian Book Prize for excellence in Armenian Studies.

Stefan, who joined the faculty in 2016, was recognised by The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) for his book Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler (Harvard University Press).

Reacting to the announcement, Stefan said: “I am very humbled to be awarded the Sonia Aronian Prize and thank NAASR and my wonderful colleagues in the field of Armenian Studies.

“I have so far only spent a few years of my life working on the Armenian Genocide and yet they have been among the most meaningful of them all.”

Many congratulations, Stefan.

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Alongside Stefan, Abraham Terian was also commended for his translation of a literary work, The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek: Annotated Translation of the Odes, Litanies, and Encomia (Pueblo Books).

The full story can be read here, courtesy of Armenian Weekly.


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/

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Faculty, Genocide Studies, Holocaust Survivor, Research, Uncategorized

Faculty Feature: Dr. Carol Kidron

s200_carol.kidronDr. Carol 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.

At the start of her career, Dr. Kidron researched the collective memory and transmitted trauma of second and third generation Holocaust survivors. She then began to compare it with other groups who suffered genocide to assess whether or not the way Jews approach the memory and commemoration of the Holocaust is universal. Dr. Kidron closely examines the case of Cambodia. She found that there is a very different view among descendants of survivors of the Cambodian Genocide and descendants of Holocaust survivors. Overall, Dr. Kidron found that many Cambodians are disinterested in the genocide. Dr. Kidron attributes this in part to Buddhism’s role in their lives. Contrary to Judaism, Buddhism is not so concerned with the past and stresses the importance of the present and the future. Under the Buddhist perspective, one should accept their karma and move forward. Furthermore, through the Buddhist perspective, the suffering of the genocide is not different to other instances of suffering and therefore does not hold an overly special place in the collective memory of Cambodians.

Despite this perspective, there are still many memorial sites around the country. However, Dr. Kidron argues, these are not primarily set up as places of memory for Cambodians themselves, but rather for the international-Western community (including tourists) who are expecting to see a discourse which perpetuates the message of “never again”.

In her multi-disciplinary course Anthropology of Memory, Trauma and Commemoration, Dr. Kidron teaches about the role of the commemoration of traumatic pasts in the person-private and public-collective works of culture. The course explores themes relating to the anthropology of memory, traumatic memory and commemoration and examines the following concepts: representation, history, genocidal trauma, personal and collective memory, testimony and witnessing, and survivorhood. Dr. Kidron says that teaching the course is fascinating for her and that she enjoys the multicultural classroom. For Dr. Kidron, because of the diversity of our students, it is interesting to hear students’ views and critiques.

We are fortunate to have Dr. Kidron as part of our faculty and to contribute to the success of the program’s multi-disciplinary nature. We are looking forward to seeing how our students enjoy her course this coming spring.

To read Dr. Kidron’s article about Jewish-Israeli Holocaust and Canadian-Cambodian genocide legacies click here and to read her article about the presence of the past in the everyday life of Holocaust survivors and their descendants click here.


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/

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Current Students, Genocide Studies, Holocaust Internship, Internships, Program News, Uncategorized

International Internships Announcement

Each year students of our program are encouraged to apply for our prestigious international 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 $1,500 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!

meinternshipJasmine 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.

HanaHana 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

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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).

MalloryMallory N., Cohort V

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C.

Mallory will be completing a fellowship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.

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Rotem Zilber, Cohort IV

The Jewish Museum in Budapest

 

 

 

 

 

We wish our students luck in their endeavours abroad!


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/

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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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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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Faculty, Genocide Studies, Research

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 – the Europe’s most competitive and prestigious award funded by the 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 the  people coming out of the EU 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?

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.

A: Who is Prof. Sinisa Malesevic, and what made you want to work with him?

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 Prof. Malesevic is 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 their additional training and conduct my research. I will have there 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.


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 Events, Current Students, Genocide Studies, Guest Lecturers, Holocaust Survivor, Program News

Survivor, Shaya Harsit, Visits Cohort V in Research Forum

A few years ago, From Rebirth to the Skies was created to commemorate 138 Holocaust Survivors who became pilots and formed the pillars of the Israeli Air Force. A representative from this organzization, Shaya Harsit, came to share his story with the students of Cohort V.

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His story begins in the 18th Century. Shaya’s family was Italian, but moved to Poland in the 1790’s because King Stanisław August Poniatowski allowed Jews to own land. In 1934, Shaya was born in Poland to wealthy, traditional Jewish family. In 1938 Shaya’s father had a foreboding sense about the horrors that would befall Jews in Poland, so he fled to Russia with Shaya’s brothers. A year later, the Germans invaded Poland. On September 29, 1939 the Germans bombed Warsaw. For the first time, at the age of five years, Shaya saw a dead man; many dead men and dead horses crowded the streets of Warsaw. Soon after, his father sent a professional smuggler to rescue the rest of the Harsit family. The smuggler told them to gather what they could, in 24 hours they would leave for Russia. Shaya said he remembers the house being swarmed with tailors and shoemakers to hide valuables in their clothing and shoes. He never saw this as serious but a game, as any five year old would. His brother had studied medicine in Genoa, and in Russia he mobilized in the Russian Army as a Doctor, along with his wife, a nurse.

About a year later, in March, the KGB knocked on their door, very early in the morning.  They told the whole family to take only what they could carry, a cattle car would be leaving shortly to take them to a camp for political prisoners. He never saw his brother and sister again, who stayed in the Russian Army.

There was nothing in the train car but a bucket for a toilet. They were in the train for days, occasionally the soldiers would throw in bread, “really a brick,” and some soup. “Something I never want my friends to experience is lice, hunger and cold.” His mother could not make herself use the bucket as a toilet, so once when the train stopped she ran outside to urinate there, but with more privacy. The train left her, but Shaya’s brother and his friends jumped out of the train car to save her. They picked her up and threw her in the train before they jumped in.

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They arrived at the camp and there were small huts with no heat. Two to three families were supposed to live in these huts. At the camp, Shaya went to a kindergarten. At the school they practiced indoctrination, teaching the children that their new father was Stalin and their mother was Russia. The lived at this camp for more than one year. His father employed himself as a “fixer” and his mother worked in the kitchen. She would hide food in her clothing when she came home, and this is how they survived.

On the twenty-second of January, 1941 Operation Barbarossa started, the nazi invasion of Soviet Russia. Two to three days after the invasion the Harsit family woke up to no guards, no guns, and the gates to the camp were open. They walked through wilderness, when they came to railroad tracks they followed them. Different families jumped on different trains. First, they went first to Uzbekistan, then to Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan they lived in a small town that was a crossroads for many different railways. He was then seven years old, and weighed only ten kilos because he had nothing to eat. He was hungry all the time.

His father decided to take him to an orphanage, what he called a “children’s home” because he felt that he and his wife could not care for him as they should. At the orphanage his father left quickly, so they Shaya would not see him cry. The orphanage was not welcoming, on the first day Shaya decided he would run away. He started to hoard food and rags for his journey home. He left in the night two to three weeks later. He was only seven and half years old. Without any shoes, he traveled the twenty or more kilometers back to his parents. He remembered that there was a river on their left coming to the orphanage so he kept the river on his right on the way back. Then he saw the towers for the crossroads of the railroads, and he knew that they would lead him home. He fell asleep several times, sometimes he had to crawl on his knees, but he kept going through the night. When he arrived at home his mother looked to her husband and said “you never take my son from me again”

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His father and brother obtained jobs putting tar on roofs. But the family was still hungry. At the time in Soviet Russia, food spoiled a hundred kilometers from where you were, but you were still hungry. From the roofing job, his father spotted a chicken coop, and took eggs from there periodically. These eggs saved the family’s lives.

One of his father’s friends was the person in charge of distributing food from the United States to the surrounding area. One day she was very upset because she was just told that in a few weeks there would be an inspection of her office. She knew she would fail this inspection because people had been stealing from her. His father had been an accountant before the war, and he worked on the books for her, which saved her life. As a result, she gave him extra food and vodka every week afterward. Shaya said, “This is very important. The vodka was very important.”

In 1943, the Harsit family found out that Shaya’s brother and sister-in-law had died. The nazis bombed the hospital they had been working in. This changed the family forever. After the war, the family made their way back to Poland. The car they took was absolutely filled with vodka. All over there were obstacles but the vodka solved them. He bribed the officials at different checkpoints and over borders.  When they arrived in different towns, people said “Who said all the Jews were burned and gassed? This can’t be true. Here they are.”

When they arrived in Warsaw they decided to immigrate to Palestine. The Joint and Mossad LaAlyiah Bet helped them with these goals. First, they were smuggled to Munich. There they lived in a settlement for SS men and their families. “They we had luxury, even more than luxury, but there were a lot of Naxis,” Shaya said. His father started police organization for the community and ensured his family’s safety. Then one day he said “it’s coming, we are moving to Palestine.” They had heard of a ship for the elderly and children going to Palestine. They thought that the British would not stop them on this ship. Jewish American Soldiers helped them get to the port in the South of France. There they boarded a huge black ship made out of wood, called “Exodus.” The ship came to Haifa, but it was turned around and taken to Cyprus, then back to the shores of France. The French would not accept them either. They went to Gibraltar and finally disembarked in Hamburg. Altogether, they were on the ship for two to three months.

In Hamburg, they were taken to camps. These camps were not concentration camps, they had no gas chambers or crematoriums, but they had dogs, fences, towers, guards. A camp for displaced peoples. Shaya had his Bar Mitzvah in this camp. Then just like the camp in Russia they woke up one morning without guard or dogs. The Jewish British Brigade brought his family, again, to the south of France, and they made their way to Palestine. At first they lived on Mt. Carmel and in tents, among orange orchards; he ate his fill everyday.

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After the War of Independence and then they bought a house in Jaffa. For the first time Shaya went to a real school, a Jewish high school. He started school in the seventh grade, and had to compete with sabras, who had been in school all their lives. After school, he volunteered as a paratrooper. Subsequently he was invited to take exams for flight school. He did well in the exams and became an airman. He was in the Israeli Air Force for 24 years, and fought in the wars of ‘56, ‘67, ‘73 and ‘82. He became the Head of Planning and Organization of the Israeli Air Force. Upon retirement he had 4,200 flight hours.

When asked about his parents and how they handled this trauma he replied “They danced, they enjoyed life. But when you looked in their eyes you never saw a smile in their eyes.”

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To learn more about From Rebirth to the Skies visit:

www.Tkumatosky.org

Here you can find more stories about the other 137 pilots.

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/

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