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Archive: 2009-2011

OSU Holocaust Memorial Week 2011


Cover of "In the Shadow of the Swastika" by Hermann WygodaMark Wygoda, Fighting Back against the Nazis: The Story of “Comandante Enrico”

Monday, May 2, 7:30 p.m., C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center

Mark Wygoda, a professor of Zoology, heads the Department of Biology and Health Sciences at McNeese State University (Lake Charles, Louisiana).  On May 2, he will discuss, and will illustrate with photographs and documents, the wartime experiences of his late father, Hermann Wygoda, a German-born Polish Jew who during the war fought the Nazis in many ways, becoming sequentially a Warsaw ghetto smuggler, a trusted Berlin courier, and finally a partisan commander in northern Italy who planned attacks against enemy forces, negotiated prisoner exchanges with German commanders, and helped liberate the city of Savona.  Three nations later honored him for his work with the Italian resistance.  Toward the end of his life, Hermann Wygoda wrote, and his son edited, a memorable account of his career, In the Shadow of the Swastika.



Pope Pius XII Jacques Kornberg, Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust: a Comparative View

Tuesday, May 3, 7:30 p.m.,C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center

Jacques Kornberg, emeritus professor of history at the University of Toronto, has published and lectured extensively on the Holocaust, early Zionism, and modern Antisemitism.  In recent years, he has focused particularly on Catholic-Jewish relations in the years preceding and during the Holocaust.  Aspects of his research will be discussed in a forthcoming book, Why Pope Pius XII did not Save the Jews.

More than sixty years after the Holocaust, Pius XII’s cautious response to the destruction of the European Jews still provokes fierce debate.  But was his reaction to events that different from that of preceding popes, when they had been confronted by the news of mass assaults on civilian populations?  Who today debates Pope Benedict XV’s response to the Armenian genocide of  1915, or Pope Pius XI’s to the use of mustard gas as a terror tactic against civilians during the 1936 Italian conquest of Ethiopia? Some argue that Pius XII stands alone, that his policy was more an anomaly than a papal norm, an outcome of his timid and indecisive personality and of his training as a diplomat, a vocation that encouraged negotiation and compromise.  In his talk on May 3, Professor Kornberg will test this argument by comparing Pius XII’s response to mass atrocities with those of his predecessors.



Pope John Paul II meets with Jewish LeadersEugene J. Fisher, Memoria Future:  Remembering the Shoah for the Sake of Future Generations

Wednesday, May 4, 7:30 p.m., C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center 
It may well be argued that more progress has been made in reconciling Christians and Jews since 1945 than in the nearly 2000 years preceding it.  Currently Distinguished Professor of Catholic-Jewish studies at St. Leo University in Florida, Eugene Fisher has played a major role in promoting amity and dialogue between Jews and Catholics while also confronting the difficult relationship between Jews and the Church in the centuries leading up to, and extending through, the Holocaust.  Often honored by both Christian and Jewish organizations for his interreligious work, Dr. Fisher has held many key positions within the Church that have allowed him to further dialogue.  He has also promoted interreligious understanding in some twenty books and 300 articles, and is co-editor (with Rabbi Leon Klenicki) of a forthcoming book, The Saint for Shalom: The Complete Texts and Addresses of Pope John Paul II on Jews and Judaism.

When he speaks on May 4, Dr. Fisher will trace the development of Catholic teaching on the Holocaust, how it has evolved through dialogue with Jews, and how it is embodied in the official teaching of the Church.



John F. ClarkJohn F. Clark, Understanding Mass Violence during and after the Congo Wars: Continuities of a Culture of Repression

Thursday, May 5, 7:30 p.m., C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center 

A professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University, John F. Clark focuses on Central and Francophone Africa. His many publications include The Failure of Democracy in the Republic of Congo.

In his talk on May 5, Professor Clark will address the question, “How can one understand the enormous human violence that has engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1998?”   During the Second Congo War, which began in 1998, millions -- an estimated 5.3 million in total -- have perished, in part as a result of  disease, exposure, and starvation that have accompanied the fighting, but many civilians have simply been killed by their countrymen, and in addition hundreds of thousands have suffered rape, mutilation, ethnic cleansing, and other forms of personal assault.  Despite an agreement in 2002 to end the war, violence has continued, and the DRC remains unstable.  These brutal campaigns can in some cases be understood as part of a “rational” plan to displace people, exact revenge, or seize land, but as Professor Clark will argue, they also reflect a larger culture of violence, whose roots can be traced to the time of Belgian occupation and, after liberation, to the tumults of the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko (1965-96) and the First Congo War (1996-97).


OSU Holocaust Memorial Week 2010

German Propaganda Pamphlet Barnet HartstonBetween Ancient Prejudice and Modern Propaganda: Reconsidering Antisemitism in Imperial Germany - Public Talk 

Monday, April 12, 4:00 p.m., OSU Memorial Union, room 109

Despite substantial new research on Germany before World War One, historians have failed to reach a consensus about the level of continuities between Antisemitism in the Second Reich and the Third, or even about the depth and breadth of prejudice in Imperial Germany itself. Using a variety of primary sources, including prominent newspapers, political debates, and scholarly disputes, Professor Hartston will both give a nuanced assessment of anti-Jewish prejudice in this period and highlight the difficulties of “measuring” Antisemitism in any era.

Barnet Hartston, who teaches modern German history at Eckerd College, is the author of Sensationalizing the Jewish Question: Anti-semitic Trials and the Press in the Early German Empire.



Wulf KansteinerWulf Kansteiner, German Television and the Limits of Holocaust Memory - Public Talk  

Monday, April 12, 7:30 p.m., C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center

Wulf Kansteiner  a member of faculty at SUNY-Binghamton, has published extensively on Holocaust themes, including a book, In Pursuit of German Memory: History, Politics, and Memory after Auschwitz.

 In his presentation, Professor Kansteiner will assess how far German popular culture, particularly as reflected in television, has come in providing its audience with a thorough and accurate depiction of the Holocaust while also encouraging reflection on the central role that Germany played in this genocidal campaign.  He will also speak to the issue of how far representations on television have to go in order to achieve their objectives. 


Eric D. WeitzEric D. Weitz, Why Was the 20th Century the Century of Genocide? - Public Talk 

Tuesday, April 13, 7:30 p.m., C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center

Eric D. Weitz, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History, Chair of the History Department, and Director of the Center for German and Central European Studies at the University of Minnesota, will speak of the problem of genocide in the twentieth century.  Professor Weitz’ books include the highly acclaimed  A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation.

In his talk, Professor Weitz will compare several episodes of genocide during the past century, especially the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide of 1915-23. Through a comparative approach, he will explain why genocide arises and why it became prevalent in the twentieth century.  Among the issues he will explore in detail is how large elements of national populations came to participate in the killings.



Tony KushnerA Bright Room Called Day, by Tony Kushner - Play

Wednesday, April 14, 7:30 p.m., OSU Lab Theatre (Withycombe Hall)

In this play Kushner, the prominent playwright well known for his drama Angels in America, depicts a group of Germans observing the Nazi takeover during the early 1930's.  (Note: A Bright Room Called Day will also be performed on April 15, 16, 17, and 18 (matinee on the 18th, at 2:00 p.m.; otherwise, 7:30 p.m.).  The performance on April 14 will be preceded (6:30 p.m., Withycombe 109) by a panel discussion examining the rise of Nazism in Germany.  More information on the play  is available at





A yellow Star of David badge bearing the German word 'Jude' (Jew). Eline Hoekstra Dresden - Survivor Testimony

Thursday, April 15, 7:30 p.m., Austin Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center 

Eline Hoekstra Dresden will speak of her experiences growing up as a Jew in the Netherlands before and during World War II, and focusing on her three years internment at Westerbork, the transit camp that for tens of thousands of Dutch Jews was the last stop before Auschwitz.  Appearing with Eline will be her daughter, Deborah Mrowka, who will discuss what it is like to grow up as the child of a Holocaust survivor. Eline Hoekstra Dresden is the author of Wishing Upon a Star, a memoir that focuses on her wartime experiences.


OSU Holocaust Memorial Week 2009


Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Film)
April 24, 7:00 pm at Kelley Engineering 1001

Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans were central figures in a group that resisted the Nazis under the name of "The White Rose" Sophie was apprehended and tried for treason in early 1943, and was beheaded in February of that year. The courage that she showed, even during her trial and her last hours, has helped to accord her an almost legendary status, especially in Germany and Europe, as reflected in the choice of a major German magazine to designate her "the greatest woman of the Twentieth Century."

The Final Days, which stars Julia Jentsch as Sophie - Jentsch called it "an honor" to have this role -- won a number of awards after its release in 2005. It will be shown at OSU in its original German, with subtitles.


George WittensteinGeorge Wittenstein, A Personal Account of the White Rose

April 22, 7:30 p.m. at Austin Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center

The White Rose consisted of a small number of friends, most of them medical students in the University of Hamburg, who dared to speak out against the Nazi regime during the war. Unlike other anti-Nazi groups in Germany - and there were few of them in any case -- the White Rose denounced the persecution and killing of the Jews. Although calling for the overthrow of the Nazi regime, the group espoused a non-violent philosophy. During 1942, the members spread their views through a series of pamphlets. When the government discovered the identity of those who were involved in writing and distributing the pamphlets, it moved against them, and six were executed.

George Wittenstein was actively involved with the White Rose and narrowly escaped Germany with his life. He subsequently traveled to the U.S., completed his medical studies, and went on to become an important practitioner and professor of cardiovascular surgery. In his talk at OSU, which he will illustrate with photographs that relate to his theme, Dr. Wittenstein will discuss the history of the White Rose. No one alive today is as well qualified to lecture on the White Rose as is Dr. Wittenstein, and his appearance at OSU allows our community to learn of this legendary group from the inside.




Consul-General Rolf Schuette

Consul-General Rolf Schuette:
The Holocaust's Role in the Identity of Today's Germans

April 21, 7:30 pm at OSU Memorial Union Lounge

While it is a fact of history that the Holocaust was bred in Germany, it is also a fact that since 1945, and especially since the 1980's, successive German governments and communities have done much to try to atone. Germany is now the site of thousands of memorials to victims of the Holocaust, and schoolchildren are educated about the massed assault on European Jewry.

Rolf Schuette, the German Consul-General in San Francisco, has a long and distinguished career in the German diplomatic service, having served in Russia, in Israel, and at the United Nations, among other posts. He is also well known as a speaker on human rights issues. He has worked extensively to promote German-Jewish dialogue and his publications include an important essay, "German-Jewish Relations, Today and Tomorrow.," which was published by the American Jewish Committee in 2005.




Claudia KoonzClaudia Koonz:
How the Nazis Made Anti-Semitism Respectable

April 20, 7:30 pm at Construction and Engineering Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center

Claudia Koonz, a professor of History at Duke University, is well known for her scholarship on Nazi Germany, on the history of German women during the Nazi period, and on the Holocaust. She is the author of two well-known and highly influential books, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family, and Nazi Politics, and The Nazi Conscience.

In her talk at OSU, Professor Koonz will deal with the question, "How did it happen that Germany, the nation celebrated as the home of 'philosophers and poets,' became the site of an unprecedented drive to exterminate every Jew in Europe?"   She will investigate the moral transformation that prepared most Germans to participate in crimes against Jews with impunity. Using images from films, humor magazines, racial science textbooks, and mass market print media, she will examine the sophisticated persuasive techniques that prepared ordinary Germans to ostracize, blackmail, rob, and expel fellow citizens with Jewish ancestors.