Faculty, Program News

Dr. Jan Grabowski’s New Course: The Extermination of Polish Jews, 1939-1945

grabowski_smallDr. Jan Grabowski visited the University of Haifa earlier this Spring. During his visit he gave a lecture on Jews in Poland to our students, and moreover he filmed the videos for an online course which will be available to current students. Dr. Jan Grabowski is a professor at the University of Ottawa, originally from Poland, he offers a growing network to our students.

The course will be on the extermination of Polish Jews, it focuses on German initiatives against Jews in Poland, and reactions from the Jewish communities. He will discuss the creation of ghettos, and the strategy of Jewish leadership within the Ghettos. The video lectures will include lessons on the escalation of German terror, and different Jewish responses including those that fled, those that stayed, leaders and the murder of 3 million Polish Jews. In specific, the topics include Aktion Reinhard, the Judenrat, survival strategies within Poland, the role of the Polish Catholic Church, as well as the story of Jews that returned to Poland. The course marries the focus on perpetrators and victims, while also including the narrative of the Polish bystanders, and collaborators.

We welcome Dr. Jan Grabowski to our faculty and we look forward to see where this partnership will lead our students.

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

Program News

Multi-Disciplinary Approach in Holocaust Studies

The Weiss-Livnat International MA in Holocaust Studies offers an array of multidisciplinary courses that support a core of historical studies that provide our students with a holistic approach. The students come to the program with differing backgrounds and research goals and become specialists in their unique fields through our multidisciplinary program.

One of our historical backbones is Dr. Kobi Kabalek’s “Nazi Germany” course. In this course, students research Nazi culture and identification. It further gives a basic foundation to the political structure of the Third Reich.

Dr. Shosh Stephanie Rotem teaches a course called “Holocaust Museum: Three continents, three generations.” In this course, Dr. Rotem opens dialogue on the social, cultural, and political aspects of Holocaust museums. Through analyzing these different factors, students can offer thorough perspectives and questions to their futures in museology.

“Visual Culture and the Holocaust” taught by Rachel Perry marries the fields of Holocaust Studies and Art History. This interdisciplinary course studies the art of avant-garde and the National Socialist artists. Dr. Perry includes the time leading up to the Holocaust, during the Holocaust, and the responses to the Holocaust in art after the Holocaust.

Other historical courses, among others, include “Final Solution” taught by Dr. David Silberklang and “World War II” by Dr. Daniel Uziel. Students also have the opportunity to take courses in psychology, law, education, historiography, and literature. For more information on our faculty click this link.  For more information on our classes, click here.

The video below offers more information on the programs Multi-Disciplinary Course.



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: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rdap20/current

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 dapim_h@univ.haifa.ac.il

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 dapim_h@univ.haifa.ac.il
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, 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.


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.


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”


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.


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.”


To learn more about From Rebirth to the Skies visit:


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/

Current Students, Guest Lecturers, Program News, Seminars

Opening Seminar of Cohort V with Guest Lecturer Professor Steven Katz

A few days before the start of the new academic year, the students of Cohort V in the Weiss-Livnat program of Holocaust studies participated in an opening seminar. The day started with a speech made by Prof. Arieh Kochavi, head of the program, followed by presentation of the faculty staff and students themselves.


During the opening seminar, Prof. Steven Katz, director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University, spoke on the topic of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust.

Prof. Katz’s lecture gave the new students, a glimpse into one of the many debates in Holocaust research, which is the complex question regarding the existence of resistance actions in the Holocaust among the victims, as well as the philosophical question of what is considered resistance activity under various definitions.


The lecture started by defining two opposing approaches to resistance. The first approach judges the existence and success of the resistance acts on the basis of the actual consequences of those actions, which were mostly unsuccessful. The second approach focuses on whether the actions made were following initial conscious intentions to stand against the caused atrocities and not surrender. In this approach, such conscious acts count as a successful resistance activity, regardless of their result.

Prof. Katz stated that he supports the more humanistic second approach that says that emphasizes intentions. To emphasize his statement Prof. Katz indicated a number of possible factors for lack of resistance, such as geographical differences between the many ghettos and camps, indifference of the local society surrounding the Jews, demographical and political diversity inside the Jewish communities that caused obstacles for attempts to organize, such as dealing with strong opposition to resistance inside the community in the ghettos or camps.


When those factors, combined with the poor physical conditions and the immediate risk, are put together, it allows us to understand that it is also possible to look at non-violent actions such as immigration as acts of resistance. Moreover, daily actions can be treated as constant deeds of resistance as well if they are made with appropriate intention and aspiration to keep the victim’s dignity in spite of being labeled as sub-humans. Those daily actions could come in the form of holding on tightly to religion and culture, or simply humanity.

From that perspective, like Prof. Katz mentioned, those daily actions not only contradict the question of why there was no impactful resistance among the victims during the Holocaust, but conversely raises the question of why there were so many acts of resistance.


By presenting all those thought provoking anecdotes, Prof. Steven Katz showed how broad and complex the topic of the Holocaust is and how many questions without easy answers are included in it.

Starting the academic year with such a lecture, made the students excited and eager to jump in and explore this period of time in human history during their upcoming studies 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: http://holocaust-studies.haifa.ac.il/

Faculty, Program News, Special Projects

Researching and Restaging the Ghez Collection of Jewish Artists Who Perished in the Holocaust: A Curatorial Experiment – Collaboration with the Hecht Museum and a new course!

rachel_Perry.pngWe are elated to announce a new course we will be offering to our students in the 2016-2017 academic year.  Through this course we will be partnering with the Hecht Museum, and offering our students a wonderful opportunity to learn about museum studies and curation. Read about the course, taught by Dr. Rachel Perry, below:


Course description:  In 1978, the Swiss art collector, Dr. Oscar Ghez, donated his important collection of works of art by artists who perished in the Holocaust to the University of Haifa.  Consisting of oil paintings, watercolors, drawings and sculptures, the dscf0160.jpgcollection includes over 130 works by 18 artists who lived and worked in Paris before the Holocaust in what was known as the “School of Paris.”  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 this course, we will collaborate with the Hecht museum on a unique research project revolving around the Ghez collection and culminating in an exhibition which the class will curate and install.  The last exhibition catalogue of the Ghez collection is over 20 years old.  The time is ripe for a reassessment of the collection, relying on new scholarship and new methodological approaches.  Little research has been done on these artists; for many, the dates and place of death is unknown.  Like detectives, we will explore the archives and trace the provenance of the art works before Ghez acquired them (ie. where they were purchased, when, by whom).  Where did these artists emigrate from?  What social, religious, political networks and organizations were they affiliated with?  Where did they go to art school, with whom?  Where did they exhibit (galleries, museums) and who were their patrons?  What subjects and media did they gravitate towards?  Answering these questions will contribute to a fuller picture of the rich diversity of Jewish culture in the prewar period, when Paris was a magnet for Jewish artists across Europe.


Final Research Project:  During the semester, students will work independently or in small groups on one aspect of the exhibition.  For their contribution, students are encouraged to think outside of the box.  Whether it is a documentary film detailing our research and progress as a group; a collection of poems and literary texts which relate to the art; a sound track of testimonies; documents relating to each artists (photographs, Pages of Testimony, artifacts); wall labels which provide important contextual information; an educational guide for students or a web based project (blog or website) – this course welcomes interdisciplinary approaches and original ideas about how to curate these works of art in the museum.  No prior knowledge of art is necessary.


Museum Visits and Film Screenings: Throughout the semester we will study other museums and collections devoted to art and the Holocaust.  Visiting lecturers and museum visits, as well as films about art and the Holocaust and academic articles and books, will complement class sessions in the Hecht museum and its archives in front of the works of art and relevant historical documents.  Film screenings are scheduled throughout the semester both in class and as homework assignments.  If you cannot make a screening, you must inform me in advance.  Attendance at museum visits is absolutely mandatory.  In addition to the class meetings held in museums, you may be required to visit museums on your own to complete assignments.

Learn more about our courses 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/

Faculty, Program News

2nd Historiography Session with Prof. Dan Michman

dan_michman1Our students participated in the second session of the new course in Holocaust Historiography with Professor Dan Michman of Yad Vashem and Bar Ilan University. The topic of the session was Holocaust Historiography: Polemics and Conceptualizations. As part of the Introduction Michman stated that there are a lot more historiographical studies published now than ever before and they are more analytical. However, there is still a division between German and Jewish scholarship and often the perpetrators and bystanders are detached from Jewish history. Personal histories have been a trend in recent years as historians write about family connections and how they are involved in their studies.

Screenshot 2015-11-02 13.16.24

The first topic Michman addressed with our students was: Major Debates in Perpetrator History: Perspectives and Methodologies. Michman reviewed the debate between the intentionalist and functionalists camps and how their arguments have evolved over times through discussing Kershaw’s “Working Towards the Fuhrer” model and the theory on the interaction between the center and the periphery described by Browning in his volume “The Origins of the Final Solution.” Michman also discussed Hilberg’s different approach that uses models, patterns, and generalizations as a result of his background in political history and not history. Michman discussed the idea of a Sonderweg or special path in German history that some argue led to the Nazi rise to power and the perpetration of the Holocaust. Michman compared Browning’s “Ordinary Men” to Goldhagen’s “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” to discuss whether committing mass murder in universal that anyone is capable of or whether there was something unique in German culture that led to the Holocaust. Michman brought up the role of women as perpetrators. Michman touched on the debates regarding the role of European collaborators in the Holocaust, whether the Holocaust is unique or universal and if it can be compared to other genocides, and what sources should be used to reconstruct the history- documents or testimonies and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each source.


The second major topic Michman addressed was Major Debates in Jewish History: Scholarly Analyses vs. Learning Lessons and Working Through the Collective Trauma. Michman explained that the function of history among survivors began immediately after liberation and many used it to begin the process of healing. Many survivor historians researched the camps or ghettoes where they were imprisoned using German documentation to begin to answer the questions of why and how. Issues many Jewish historians focused on were the role of the Jewish councils in the German machinery of destruction, what is resistance, how and whether Jews outside of Europe tried to aid their brethren, whether the Holocaust was unique or is part of a pattern in Jewish history, and whether the Holocaust should become separate from or integrated into Jewish history.


During the final component of the session Michman taught our students how to know the contents of a book without reading it cover to cover by focusing on key ingredients and key tools. The key ingredients are the core, periodization, and extent of the book – the background of the historian, when and where the book was written, and the topics covered in it. The key tools are the title, table of contents, index, introduction, and conclusion. Our students worked with Michman to use these tools and ingredients to analyze some comprehensive histories of the Holocaust such as those written by Hillberg, Dawidowicz, Friedlander, and Cesarani. It was helpful for our students to see how much could be learned about an author’s approach, emphasis, and arguments from analyzing the title, table of contents, index, introduction, and conclusion of a book. The second session of the Historiography course was very useful and students are looking forward to the final session in the summer semester.