Fall 2020 ||   Lessons (Not) Learned from the Holocaust

Purple banner reading "Fall 2020 Lecture Series: Lessons (Not) Learned from the Holocaust

Join us for a free, public online lecture series or 2-credit course exploring the many lessons (not) learned from the Holocaust.

In 35-minute online lectures followed by Q&A sessions, University of Washington faculty from a wide range of disciplines will discuss the history and context surrounding the Holocaust, and the factors that made — and continue to make — atrocities of this magnitude possible.

Weekly, Tuesdays, 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time, October 6 – December 8, 2020.

Lecture Schedule: Lessons (Not) Learned from the Holocaust

Tuesday, December 1.  Genocide in Myanmar: The Case Before the International Court of Justice

Portrait of Frederick Michael Lorenz, smiling, wearing a button-up shirt and glasses, standing in front of bushes outdoorsWith Frederick Michael Lorenz, Senior Lecturer, International Studies

Myanmar is facing charges that its military committed genocide against the Rohinga people, beginning with a series of violent attacks beginning in 2017. In January 2020, International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a preliminary ruling. This presentation will review the legal proceedings and prospects for justice at the international level. RSVP for a single lecture or entire series >

Tuesday, December 8.  Concluding Roundtable Discussion

Roundtable Participants:

  • Daniel Bessner, Associate Professor, International Studies
  • Hadar Khazzam-Horovitz, Lecturer, Near Eastern Languages & Civilization
  • Niko Switek, Assistant Professor, Political Science

Daniel Bessner will discuss the impact of exiles of German National Socialism on the making of the U.S. national security state in the 1940s and beyond.

Hadar Khazzam-Horovitz will discuss the Nuremberg trials, in which Nazi physicians and scientists were prosecuted for war crimes, and the de facto birth of modern medical ethics.

Niko Switek will discuss the prevalence of anti-Semitic and extremist positions in the modern far-right Alternative for Germany party, and how this affects overall public discourse in Germany.

RSVP for a single lecture or entire series >

Past Lectures & Recordings

Tuesday, October 6. The History of Jewish Difference and Anti-Judaism as Ideology

Portrait of Mika Ahuvia, smiling, in glassesWith Mika Ahuvia, Assistant Professor, Jewish Studies, Comparative Religion, International Studies

Who are the Jewish people? How did they come to loom so large as the Other in the cultural imagination? Recent surveys shows that increasing numbers of people in the United States believe Jews caused the Holocaust. This misconception needs to be addressed head on. This introductory lecture will briefly survey the origins of the Jews, Judaism, and anti-Judaism.

Video recording: “The History of Jewish Difference and Anti-Judaism as Ideology”

• View a list of recommended books for further reading related to this talk

Tuesday, October 13. Keynote | The Difficulty of Confronting the Holocaust: Mass Murder in Jedwabne, Poland — 7:00 p.m.

Portrait of Jan Gross, wearing glasses and a dark button-down shirt and cardigan, looking somberWith Jan Gross, Emeritus Professor of History, Princeton University

Join Jan Gross, emeritus professor of history at Princeton University and author of the groundbreaking books “Fear: Anti-Semitism in Poland After Auschwitz” and “Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland” for a keynote lecture introducing the series.

Video recording: “The Difficulty of Confronting the Holocaust”

• Audio-only version: “The Difficulty of Confronting the Holocaust”

Tuesday, October 20. Racism, Anti-Semitism, and the Lines of Solidarity

Studio portrait of Nick Barr wearing a sweater, looking seriousWith Nicolaas P. Barr, Lecturer, Comparative History of Ideas

How was Nazi anti-Semitism related to other forms of racism, and how does this relationship bear on racial justice movements today? This lecture will explore the insights of Black intellectuals who reflected upon anti-Semitism in the aftermath of the Holocaust in theorizing their own experiences of racism.

Video recording: “Racism, Anti-Semitism, and the Lines of Solidarity”

• Audio-only version: “Racism, Anti-Semitism, and the Lines of Solidarity”

Tuesday, October 27. Ideologies of Racial Superiority and Purity: Why Did Germany and Japan Engage in Such Extreme Mass Murder During World War II?

Portrait of Daniel Chirot, smiling, wearing a blue button-down shirtWith Daniel Chirot, Professor, International Studies

Though there were differences between Germany’s effort to wipe out Jews (and others) and Japan’s massacres, there was a common ideological basis for these outrages. What lay behind Nazi ideology and Japan’s aggressive militarism, and why were they so vicious? A comparison helps put what happened in perspective and shows why we cannot exclude the possibility that something like this could happen again.

Video recording: “Ideologies of Racial Superiority and Purity”

• Audio-only version: “Ideologies of Racial Superiority and Purity”

Tuesday, November 3. Jewish Dogs and the Nazi Beast: Animal Studies and Holocaust Literature

Sokoloff, wearing glasses, scarf and suit jacket, in front of bushesWith Naomi Sokoloff, Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization

Nazis viewed Jews as subhuman and often referred to them as dogs, apes, and vermin. How have Jews experienced and responded to such dehumanization? To address that question, this talk focuses on narratives of hidden children and on ways that animal studies and Holocaust studies can contribute to one another.

Video recording: “Jewish Dogs and the Nazi Beast”

• Audio-only version: “Jewish Dogs and the Nazi Beast”

Tuesday, November 10.  “A Reply to Screamers”: How Americans Responded to the Holocaust

Picture of Susan Glenn smiling outdoors, wearing a white blouse, with a body of water in the backgroundWith Susan A. Glenn, Professor, History

In most accounts, “the Holocaust” is told as a European story, but as this lecture suggests, it was also an American story. Focusing on the period from the 1920s to the 1960s, the lecture explores how events and ideas in Europe both affected and were affected by developments in U.S. history.

Video recording: “How Americans Responded to the Holocaust”

• View a recommended reading list of materials related to this lecture

Tuesday, November 17. From the Ottoman Empire to Auschwitz and Beyond: Is the Holocaust a “European” Event?

Portrait of Devin Naar, smiling, wearing a button-up shirt and tie, with bookshelves visible in the backgroundWith Devin E. Naar, Associate Professor, History & International Studies

Although usually understood as a “European” event, the Holocaust also resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews born in the predominantly Muslim world of the Ottoman Empire (e. g., today’s Greece). Grappling with the particularities of their experiences compels us to expand the scope of the Holocaust into the Mediterranean world and to recognize the global factors in dialogue with Hitler’s empire, whether the eugenics movement in the United States or the Armenian genocide.

Video recording: “Is the Holocaust a ‘European’ Event?”

• Audio-only version: “Is the Holocaust a ‘European’ Event?”

• View a recommended reading list of materials related to this lecture

Tuesday, November 24.  In the Bloodlands: History and Memory of the Holocaust in the U.S.S.R.

Portrait of Sasha Senderovich, smiling, wearing a button-up short-sleeved gray shirt, with a European streetway of light stone behind himWith Sasha Senderovich, Assistant Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures

As many as half of all the Jewish victims of the Holocaust died in 1941-1942, in the killing fields of Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia — the territories of the Soviet Union. In its turn, the USSR suppressed much of this history because it raised uncomfortable questions about the complicity of various groups of Soviet citizens in the killing of Jews. This talk will delve into the thorny issues of this contested history by looking at its manifestations in literature and cinema.

Video recording: “History and Memory of the Holocaust in the U.S.S.R.”

• View a recommended reading list of materials related to this lecture

About Mika Ahuvia, Course Facilitator

Portrait of Mika Ahuvia, smiling, in glassesMika Ahuvia researches the formative history of Jewish and Christian communities in the ancient Mediterranean world. Specializing in Late Antique Jewish history, she works with rabbinic sources, liturgical poetry, magical texts, early mystical literature, and archaeological evidence. Her forthcoming book investigates conceptions of angels in foundational Jewish texts and ritual sources. She uncovers how angels made their way into the practices and worldview of ancient Jews and makes sense of why angels continue to play such an important role within and outside of institutional religious settings. She teaches courses in Jewish Studies, comparative religion, and global studies in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and is also the Stroum Center’s Undergraduate Program Coordinator.

This course and lecture series is made possible through the generosity of Steven Baral.