Faculty, Holocaust Education, Program News, Research, Uncategorized

Faculty Feature: Professor Stefan Ihrig

Ihrig2016Professor 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. Professor Ihrig spent four years as a project assistant and researcher at the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research and has also spent four years as a Polonsky Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. He has previously lectured at the Free University of Berlin and the Univesity of Regensburg. In 2016 the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies had the pleasure of welcoming him to the faculty. He is also a professor in the Department of General History at the University of Haifa and at the Haifa Center of German and European Studies.

justifyinggenocideProfessor Ihrig’s recently published book Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler focuses on some of the connections between the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. Justifying Genocide shows that the two are much more connected than previously thought. Professor Ihrig focuses on Germany’s close foreign relations with the Ottoman Empire, as well as responses and reactions to the violence and genocide against the Armenians. Professor Ihrig finds that for many Germans, Armenians represented a racial problem and that Germans had portrayed them as the “Jews of the Orient”. After World War I German nationalists and Nazis had justified the genocide in a German genocide debate lasting almost four years. For the Nazis, the Armenian Genocide showed that it was possible to get away with committing such atrocities.

In his course, German Colonialism, Late Imperialism and Racial Theories: Pre-Histories of the Holocaust? Professor Ihrig examines the “long road to Auschwitz” or the “pre-histories” of the Holocaust doing so from the context of German history, including the abovementioned justification of the Armenian Genocide. The course explores topics such as German nationalism and the creation of the Reich, the development and prevalence of racial theories, cultures of violence before and during World War I, as well as the rise of far-right politics and the Nazis. The course has a special focus on colonial and imperial experiences. It debates whether these can help explain the Holocaust. Professor Ihrig says that he enjoys teaching this course because it makes students think critically about the path to the Holocaust.

We are grateful to have outstanding individuals like Professor Ihrig as part of our program and look forward to seeing how our current students enjoy his course this semester.

To read more about Professor Ihrig’s work, see his articles summarizing his last two books in the Daily Beast and Tablet. To buy his book Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler, 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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Alumni, Current Students, Holocaust Education, Holocaust Internship, Internships

Cohort V Student reflects on her year in the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies

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Cohort V Student Mallory

It has already been a month 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, who we have the pleasure of welcoming to Haifa later this month.

What were some of your highlights from the past year?

Highlights from the past year circled around learning from the wonderful professors who are instrumental in the field of the Holocaust. Every single professor has a unique teaching style and they all have their own niche. I can only wish we had more time with them! Another major highlight was to see classmates grow into colleagues. Meaning, I look forward to the next few years, staying in touch to learn who earned what job position, or doctorate, or where they will be speaking next – or, how I can get an advanced copy of their amazing book or article! I am certain there are some of us who, because of the education we received at Haifa, will contribute greatly to the new generation of Holocaust academics. We have experienced something special and I think that experience will sustain for years to come.

What impact has the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies had on your life?

The impact of this Program will continue to reverberate in my life for years to come but for now, the greatest impact has been the chance to grow as an academic with those interested in this field. The discussions in and out of class were thought provoking and unique. Moreover, the networking and introduction to possibilities that extend beyond the classroom such as internships and fellowships are the start to my academic career, and a strong one at that. It is only through the Program that such a firm foundation could have been built.

What advice do you have for the students of Cohort VI and beyond?

Seek out, and take advantage of, every opportunity beyond the classroom hours. The professors have dedicated office time, are responsive to email, and will help you flourish in your writing and thinking more than you could imagine. Additionally, the internships and fellowships that are granted exclusively to us are incredible – APPLY! More practically, find a study schedule and stick to it, but remember that you’re in a once in a lifetime opportunity both academically – and geographically! Study, but travel, too. That said, don’t forget why you’re here. You wanted to earn a degree – so earn it. Do the homework, contribute to class dialogue, and enjoy your time. (But definitely travel.)

What are your plans for the future?

My only aim is to finish my thesis. I think once I find myself close to completing that goal, more opportunities and ideas will crop up. In the meantime, it’s research, research, and writing!


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, Holocaust Education, Research

Between Trauma and Perpetration: Psychoanalytical and Social Psychological Perspectives on Difficult Histories in the Israeli Context

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Professor Tsafrir Goldberg, PhD, teaches From Silence to Omnipresence: Holocaust in the Curriculum and Beyond.  

In his most recent academic article, Professor Tsafrir Goldberg addresses a ground-breaking question in the realm of Holocaust education, asking whether the Holocaust should still be understood to be an episode of ‘difficult history’ in Israel today?

Episodes of ‘difficult history’ are those which challenge self-identity and in some way threaten the student’s self-esteem. From a psychoanalytical perspective, historic topics covering collective trauma constitute ‘difficult history’. Experiencing historical testimony can bring a sense of ‘return of suffering’ to the student, which needs to be processed in order to restore the learner’s sense of self-identity as part of the victimized group.

In contrast, a social psychological approach indicates that topics of ‘difficult history’ are those in which the student’s ‘in-group’ is perceived to be the perpetrator. From this point of view, a historical episode of perpetration becomes ‘difficult’ because it brings a sense of guilt at having victimized others, which is a threat to self-identity of the group and the individual as part of that group.

Today, Professor Goldberg writes, collective trauma could be seen as an asset, fostering positive identity and moral self-esteem. This has given rise to ‘competitive victimhood’, which leads groups to ignore or reject the suffering of other groups because they are seen as undermining their own platform of righteous suffering.

Holocaust education has long been the paradigmatic ‘difficult history’, and the path of Holocaust education in Israel has traditionally followed the psychoanalytic perspective of aiding students to process their sense of collective trauma. But Professor Goldberg points out that in recent years, Holocaust education in Israel has burgeoned into the largest and most important topic on the curriculum. In comparison with this, the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem has been evaded and rejected as a topic in the history curriculum. He brings reports from those teachers who do teach it about their students’ opposition to this topic and their rejection of Palestinian narratives of suffering. Alongside this, history teachers report that their students exhibit intolerance of other nations’ genocides.

On the foundation of these observations Professor Goldberg asks the disruptive question: Could a historical issue that arouses enthusiasm, excitement and satisfaction among teachers and learners still be considered a difficult history?

Professor Goldberg goes on to evince that students of the Holocaust do not feel shame, defeat, or hatred even on the most intensive engagement with testimony of trauma. On the contrary, facing testimony of collective trauma in Poland increases a sense of victory and and national pride in Jewish students instead of challenging it. In contrast, accepting learning about in-group perpetration in the birth of the Palestinian refugee problem lowers students’ sense of national glorification and increases their empathy with the suffering of others, which indicates “The unsettling effect of difficult knowledge which challenges learners’ identity or social identification.” 

He suggests that given students’ reactions to learning about the Holocaust, educators should consider a social psychological approach. Engaging with difficult history of collective trauma in a psychoanalytical fashion can successfully process that trauma and is a way of coping with a ‘difficult return’. But it could also move to a ‘strategic practice’ of enhancing a sense of moral victimhood instead of increasing learners’ ability to feel for others’ suffering.

Professor Tsafrir Goldberg, PhD, is a member of the Dept. of Learning, Instruction and Teacher Education at the University of Haifa.


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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Guest Lecturers, Holocaust Education

Collegiate Holocaust Education in Germany

Guest Speaker, Verena Lucia Nägel, spoke to cohort V earlier this month, her lecture was titled, “Teaching About the Holocaust in the Country of the Perpetrators.” In elementary school all German children learn about the Holocaust in several different disciplines. For example, they may learn the Holocaust first in German History, then in Global History (taught in different grades). But Verena said this is not enough. She and a small group of researchers want to practically understand the status of collegiate Holocaust Education in Germany, so they started a statistical analysis.

Their focused question was to “ascertain and describe the current state of University teaching in the history of the Holocaust in the German context.” The sought to do this by statistical analysis of German Universities and how many Holocaust courses they offer. The based their statistical analysis on a Dual-Level Empirical Survey based on a sample of course catalogues from 79 universities in the German Rechter’s Conference. By searching through each of the course catalogues from the past 4 semesters with keywords relating to the Holocaust or National Socialism, they found all of the possible related courses provided by the universities. They also conducted interviews with 13 experts in the field, covering the most important universities in Germany. These 13 exports ranged from tenured professors to first time lecturers.

Their findings led to the conclusion that there is not enough higher Holocaust education in Germany specifically for students planning on becoming history teachers in the public school system. Verena said that the findings of her survey are particularly problematic for students who want to be history teachers, because they will be required to teach history but some of them have never taken a course specifically on the Holocaust. On average, 117 Holocaust courses were offered per semester throughout Germany, or about 1.5 are taught at each university per semester. This information leads to the conclusion that there some universities that do not teach on the Holocaust each semester, and this does not get enough basic background in the Holocaust. In the course of 4 semesters at university, the survey reports that in 16 universities students can take only 1 course on the Holocaust, in 28 universities students are not able to take such courses, in 29 universities students can take at least 2 courses and in five universities students can take Holocaust courses every semester.

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Ludwig-Maximilians-University

The top universities for Holocaust Education are the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Freie University Berlin, Touro College Berlin, and Humboldt-University Berlin. The survey found that universities with institutes for Holocaust Education generally offer more Holocaust courses. Also, bigger universities often provide a better variety of course and therefore tend to offer more Holocaust Studies.

The 13 interviewees said that their classes on the Holocaust are often full and their students would like more courses to be offered. In all of the courses throughout Germany only 5 courses offer meetings with survivors of the Holocaust.

In academia there has been a shift from Holocaust Studies to Genocide Studies. But this is not happening in Germany. There are only 17 courses throughout Germany in Genocide Studies and 5 of these also discuss the Holocaust.


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, 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Events, Current Students, Holocaust Education, Special Projects

Dr. Rachel Perry’s Class Works with the Ghez Collection

This week Dr. Rachel Perry’s class explored the Ghez Collection. The Hecht Museum has a permanent exhibition of a small portion of the Ghez Collection, but the rest of the paintings, drawings and sculptures are in storage.

Oscar Ghez was a prolific art collector, specifically after World War II. During the war, Oscar Ghez and his family fled to New York in 1940, but returned to Paris in 1945. During his time in Paris Oscar Ghez slowly procured what is now the Ghez Collection in the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa. Each of the paintings are from an artist who was either killed in the Holocaust or narrowly survived it. The bulk of the collection is from Nathalie Kraemer and drawings by George Kars. There are 130 pieces total, from 18 different artists. In March 2017,  Dr. Rachel Perry’s class will curate and exhibit in the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa. Part of their work will include creating an exhibition catalogue, graphics for the exhibition, and research on the Ghez Collection itself.

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One of our students doing research in the Hecht Museum archives.

The Ghez Collection was donated the the University of Haifa to honor the artists you were murdered and tortured in the Holocaust. This collection is often referred to as a labor of love. Oscar Ghez’s other collections are shown in the Petit Palais in Geneva. Though, the pieces in the Ghez collection may not be masterpieces from Monet or Seurat, but they are invaluably significant because of their story and provenance. These pieces represent lives and beauty cut short. These artists influenced different movements including the School of Paris and Impressionism. Some of these artists were only in the beginning of their career, what their full impact would have been can never be known. We partner with Ghez in celebrating these brilliant artists and their work whose lives were destroyed.

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Dr. Rachel Perry enjoying the Ghez Collection.

Each of the students in the class is researching at least one artist, for the catalogue which will be published as a part of the exhibition. The students have also been asked to take on specific projects for the exhibition. For example, one of our students is a graphic designer, she will create a poster displaying the origins of the artists before they came to Paris, and where they went after Paris. Most of the artists were killed in Auschwitz, but some, not many, survived by fleeing to New York and other places.

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Dr. Rachel Perry and students, Annika and Jason, in the storage facility.

Our students are working directly with the University Museum Director and Curator. This is invaluable work experience, specifically for our students concentrating on Museum Studies within our program. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of our program, our students are able to have museum work experience, conveniently on campus. We’re looking forward to see the exhibit in March!

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 Events, Current Students, Guest Lecturers, Holocaust Education, Holocaust Survivor, Seminars

German Israeli Relations Seminar: What is on the Hearts and Minds of Germans and Israelis Today?

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On 6 November, 2016 the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa, and the Ghetto Fighters’ House Museum jointly hosted a seminar entitled “Israeli-German Relations: What is in the Minds and Hearts of Israelis and Germans Today?” for the third consecutive year. The three presenters, Dr. Werner Puschra, Director of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel, Dr. Michael Borchard, Head of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Office in Israel, and Anita Haviv-Horiner, many time author and director of Israel Encounter Programs (IEP) presented on different perspectives of German Israeli Relations.

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To open the discussion on German-Israeli Relations each speaker shared for 20 minutes on their topic, then the floor was opened for questions. Dr. Borchard presented first. His presentation discussed a survey taken in Israel to understand Israeli/Palestinian attitudes toward Germany. Overall, the survey found a positive perspective of Germany, and German Foreign Policy. A factor of Israel’s popular approval is founded in German military aid to Israel, such as the Dolphin Class Submarine and other such contributions. Israeli positive views also reflect their view on Germany’s reaction to the refugee crisis. 56% of the responses indicated that they approve Germany’s efforts to accept refugees. Dr. Borchard closed his speech by suggesting that, according to his survey, Germany may be the only state capable of brokering peace. The survey offered five options, USA, API, Germany, UN or EU, as possible brokers of peace, the only entity that both Israelis and Palestinians agreed on was Germany.

The second presenter, Dr. Moshe Zimmerman spoke on the German view of Israel. Dr. Zimmerman shared how the German government has endeavored, and succeeded, to change German culture through education, foreign policy and domestic policy. In the post war era, Germany tried to repress the horrors of the Holocaust, but soon after realized the need to address the atrocities. As a result, Holocaust studies has been indoctrinated in German public education curriculum, as well as public museums and memorials. Surveys from 1980 reveal that Israelis separated their views of modern Germany with its Nazi past. Furthermore, a 2016 survey says that Germany is different from the Germany that Hitler led.

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Author, Anita Haviv, discussed the micro Viennese scene in the 1960’s. It was not conducive to “normal life” for her and her family. She had to leave her family and country to be educated in France, due to anti-Semitism. Most of the teachers in the school she would have attended were ex-Nazi’s. She said that this created borders between herself and her home (Heimat). These are borders that she has worked toward overcoming her entire life, now she says, “for me personally, I have no borders.” Her new book, Heimat?- Vielleicht, discusses these central issues. Haviv presented the argument that the thing that most shapes relations between Germany and Israel are people.

The cultural exchange at the seminar did further German-Israeli Relations. The audience brought perspectives from all over the world, but we came away with a new knowledge of German-Israeli Relations. One of the speakers towards the end of the seminar said, I hope you are leaving with more questions than you had when you came in the door. We did indeed leave with more interest and more questions.

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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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