“Approaching the entrance gates and visitor’s center of Yad Vashem from the ascending road down Mt.Herzl, with its vast vegetation and spectacular views over the Jerusalem hills has become a weekly occurrence for me. I am fortunate to be interning here one day a week at the Visual Center of Yad Vashem as part of my studies in the Weiss-Livnat MA program. Our Cohort’s recent, intensive 4-day Seminar at Yad Vashem has, however, been a very different and new experience for me, one that opened up many more facets of both the institution specifically and Holocaust research, generally.
Still a little tired from the long bus ride from Haifa, which included the obligatory traffic jam on Road One, our group was warmly welcomed by the Head of the Academic Affairs Section of the International Institute of Holocaust Research, Eliot Nidam-Orvieto, who throughout our stay remained our dedicated contact person. From the very beginning and over the entire course of the seminar, he and the other staff and affiliates of the Institute fostered an open exchange between themselves and us students, treating us as recognized and respected young colleagues. After every lecture, students who were particularly interested in the specific field or methodological approach were able to discuss the topics in more detail and ask the lecturers’ questions one-on-one. Eliot Nidam also helped find available resources at Yad Vashem that could assist us with our current projects, and even provided networking contacts of experts and prominent scholars from our fields of interests.
Last year, in Honor of Yom Hazikaron leShoah ve-leG’vurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day) most commonly referred to as Yom HaShoah, our International MA students in Holocaust Studies compiled a list of the Holocaust books they found most thought-provoking, impactful, and moving.
We are continuing with the tradition and sharing the books our cohort recommends. A few of the classics you’ll find reappearing again on this year’s list but they’ve also added some insightful new finds – including two books suitable for younger audiences. From the philosophical to the purely historical, here are ten recommended, non-fiction and fiction books to read today.
1. Into That Darkness, Gitta Sereny 1974
Based on 70 hours of interviews with Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka (the largest of the five Nazi extermination camps), ‘Into That Darkness’ bares the soul of a man who continually found ways to rationalize his role in Hitler’s final solution.
Students of the Wiess-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies were treated to a fascinating guest lecture from Dr. Elana Jakel, Program Director of the Initiative for the Study of Ukrainian Jewry at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.
Dr. Jakel’s research focuses on the experiences of Jews, both individually and collectively, in Ukraine during the first years following the Holocaust. Her studies analyze the challenges the community faced and the ways these challenges helped shape the role of Jews in postwar Soviet society.
Dr. Jakel’s lecture, The Holocaust in the Soviet Union, provided a historical timeline of Jewish life in Ukraine, from the interwar period through the aftermath of the Holocaust.
In the newly liberated Ukraine, there was no plausible deniability for either the crimes of the Nazis or the crimes committed by local collaborators and Nazi sympathizers, given the visibility of the Jewish tragedy evident throughout the country. Many Jews found themselves in a hostile environment, struggling to reestablish their former homes and targeted by legal discriminatory employment practices. Furthermore, the state viewed the Jewish experience in parity with those of other “national minorities” in regards to material aid given and recognition of loss and suffering during WWII.
The story of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union is an area in the field of Holocaust Studies where many gaps still need to be filled. With popular trends of Holocaust revisionism currently sweeping Ukraine, the research being done by Dr. Jakel and her colleagues at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at USHMM is more important and relevant than ever before.
Interested in applying for our MA in Holocaust Studies Program? You can find the application and more information on our website.
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.
Madene Shacher, an alumna of the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies, Cohort II, has co-authored a chapter published in a new book from the EVZ Foundation. (EVZ, an acronym from German,is translated as; Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future). The new book; Interactions. Explorations of Good Practice in Educational Work with Videotaped Testimonies of Victims of National Socialism, explores the challenges, considerations, and opportunities educational professionals face when utilizing video testimonies in their lesson plans.
Madene Shacher’s chapter is titled; Educational Programmes Based on Child Survivor Video Testimonies at Yad Layeled Children’s Memorial Museum/Ghetto Fighters’ House Israel. In the chapter, Madene and her co-author, Dr. Michal Saden, explore the uses of video testimonies of Holocaust child survivors in permanent and rotating exhibitions at the Yad LaYeled Memorial Museum and present the museum staff’s re-evaluations and ongoing reflections regarding the use of videotaped testimonies for young learners. Additionally, an assessment based method for choosing the most appropriate videos is discussed.
In Honor of Yom Hazikaron leShoah ve-leG’vurah (Remembrance Day for the Holocaust and Heroism) most commonly referred to as Yom HaShoah, our International MA students in Holocaust Studies have compiled a list of the Holocaust books they found most thought-provoking, impactful, and moving. From the philosophical to the purely historical, here are ten recommended, non-fiction and fiction books to read today.
1. Our Holocaust, Amir Gutfreund 2006
Translated from the original Hebrew and written by a second generation Holocaust survivor, ‘Our Holocaust’ shares with the reader the difficulty, confusion, and heartbreak of growing up in a family with survivor parents.
Polish historian Jan Grabowski is concerned about the future of Holocaust research in his native Poland, in the wake of its controversial Holocaust law.
The new bill states that “whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich … shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years.”