Students of the Weiss-Livnat MA Program in Holocaust studies were recently treated to an engaging and poignant lecture by Dr. Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs; Memory, Non-Memory, and Post-Memory of the Holocaust in Poland.
Dr. Ambrosewicz-Jacobs is a lecturer at the UNESCO Chair for Education for the Holocaust, and former Director of the Centre for Holocaust Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. She holds a Ph.D. in Humanities and Habilitation in Cultural Studies from Jagiellonian University and has been a Pew Fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University and a DAAD fellow at the memorial and educational site at the Wannsee Conference House.
With the recently enacted “Amended Act on the Institute of National Remembrance” causing waves in both academic and political spheres, Dr. Ambrosewicz-Jacobs’ lecture provided students the opportunity to learn first-hand about the internal politics behind the new law and how it is perceived by Polish Holocaust scholars. Although the Amended Act refers to accusations against Poland as a country, not against individuals, and provides room for artistic and academic statements, critics worry that it could make it a crime to discuss anti-Semitic acts committed by Polish individuals.
Dr. Ambrosewicz-Jacobs’ lecture emphasized the historical complexity leading to the Act’s creation and the intricate collective WWll memory of the Polish people. She opened her talk by citing William James Booth’s concept of Communities of Memory which views collective identity as having been created by a common recollection of history; the commonality in Poland being self-identification as victims. Communities of memory tend to be insular and not empathetic to the victims of other communities. From Dr. Ambrosewicz-Jacobs’ perspective, the inability of the Polish population to empathize with the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is a major factor influencing political policies today. Dr. Ambrosewicz- Jacobs identified specific historical contexts which shaped Polish Collective Holocaust Memory and help explain this lack of empathy.
Dr. Nadav Kaplan presents at the University of Haifa
Students of the Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies recently had the honor of attending a lecture by Dr. Nadav Kaplan. Born in Israel in 1945, Dr. Kaplan served as a combat pilot and was a commander and senior executive in the Israeli air force for 35 years. He holds a B.A in Economics and Business Administration from Bar-Ilan University and an MSC in Management from MIT University. In 2017 he earned his Ph.D. at Haifa University.
Dr. Kaplan’s lecture related to his Ph.D. dissertation topic – the belated commemoration of Raoul Wallenberg in Sweden and Hungary between 1945-2014.
People around the world are familiar with the hero Raoul Wallenberg, who was recruited by the United States War Refugee Board to serve as a diplomat to Sweden’s embassy in Budapest, Hungary in the final years of WWII. He is credited with saving thousands of Hungarian Jews from deportation to death camps by issuing them “protective passports” which identified the holders as Swedish citizens awaiting repatriation.
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Newsletter – Spring 2018
The Spring semester is always a special time at the Weiss-Livnat International Program. We begin to see the fruits of our current student’s hard work and dedication and are excited by their success. But it is also a bittersweet time as we begin to bid our current cohort goodbye and prepare for the new cohort’s arrival in October. Please enjoy this newsletter sharing accounts from the past semester, upcoming events and introductions to some of our new students.
Thank-you for following the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program at the University of Haifa. Your continued support and interest is vital to our program’s success.
Arieh J. Kochavi & Yael Granot-Bein
Students participating in the course Visual Culture in the Holocaust were honored to hear a fascinating lecture from Professor Paolo Coen on the state of Holocaust memorialization in Italy. In addition to his position at the University in Teramo, Professor Coen also sits on the board of the planned Museo della Shoah in Rome. The museum will be the first of its kind in Italy and is projected to open in 2021.
On the occasion of his 90th birthday and after plenty of “noodging” from the family, Holocaust survivor Catriel Fuchs finally decided to commit his amazing story to paper. Now 92, Catriel has written and published his autobiography, which, loosely translated, is entitled More luck than judgement.
“But don’t go rushing to the next book store,” he jokes, “because only ten copies exist. They contain the memory of my murdered family, of my youth, and are dedicated to my family, of course, and to my seven great grandchildren, aged from two-and-a-half to 13. One copy is in Yad Vashem.”
In 1995, Hannah M. Lessing took the helm of the Austrian National Fund, an institution entrusted with Holocaust recognition, restitution and remembrance. At the time, her father, himself a survivor, was less than impressed with her decision to turn her back on a successful banking career. His response? “Can you give me back my childhood? Can you bring back my mother from Auschwitz?”
“That’s when I decided to do it, with the knowledge that we cannot turn back the hands of time, that we cannot repair anything,” Hannah explains. And true to her word, she approached the then President of Parliament and asked for the job.
“A person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten.” Words from the Talmud, no less, and the inspiration behind the world’s “largest commemoration project”, the Stolperstein.
The brainchild of German artist Gunter Demnig in the early 1990s, Stolpersteine – stumbling stones or blocks – are commemorative brass plaques installed in the pavement in front of a Holocaust victim’s last address of choice. Each engraving begins with the words, “Here lived…”
Cohort VI enjoyed a lively afternoon with ethical campaigner Terry Swartzberg, who is a tireless and, quite clearly, passionate advocate of the memorial project. “Stolpersteine are just the start of getting to know someone, an introduction to the victim,” he explains. “We can restore their name to our consciousness.”