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Holocaust Scholars Deliver Spring Lecture Series Beginning March 7

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 02, 2011) -- Leading scholars, including UAlbany Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Berel Lang, will offer a series of talks at the University at Albany during the spring 2011 semester on moral, philosophical, and historical questions concerning the Nazi Holocaust. The series, which is free and open to the public and hosted by UAlbany’s Center for Jewish Studies, began on Monday, March 7, with Lang's talk at UAlbany's Alumni House on "Undoing Mischievous Questions about the Holocaust."

Berel Lang

UAlbany Professor Emeritus of Philosophy Berel Lang.

Lang took a closer look at questions like "Why didn't they resist?" referring to the six million Jewish people who were murdered in the Holocaust, and examined commonly held misconceptions about the Holocaust. His latest book is Philosophical Witnessing: The Holocaust as Presence (University Press of New England 2009). Lang, a visiting professor of philosophy and letters at Wesleyan University since 2005, was inducted into the UAlbany Emeritus Center.

Historian Timothy Snyder of Yale will deliver the second lecture in the series on March 30 at 4 p.m. in University Hall, Room 110. He will draw from his new book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books 2010). Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of a single history, in the time and place where they occurred: between Germany and Russia, when Hitler and Stalin both held power. The book has been reviewed by The New York Times, The Economist, and The New York Review of Books.

The capstone lecture of the series will be on May 3 at 7 p.m. in Page Hall, when historian Doris L. Bergen of the University of Toronto will present the Yom ha-Shoah Inaugural Lecture on the changing relations between Holocaust survivors and historians.

Many of the earliest histories of the Holocaust were written by people who had lived through the events they chronicled. Some key historians of the Holocaust – most notably Emanuel Ringelblum in the Warsaw Ghetto – did not survive the destruction they documented. Today, decades after the war, scholarship on the Holocaust is well established and professionalized, but along the way, that original bond between victims/survivors and historians has weakened. Only a few scholars of the survivor generation remain active. Young scholars are likely to encounter survivors, not as experts in the field but as historical sources, through memoirs and testimonies. Bergen will examine these changes and their implications for the future of Holocaust studies.

"It's a great honor for the Center for Jewish Studies to be hosting three speakers with such strong international reputations. Each of the scholars coming this semester brings an innovative and critical perspective to the field of Holocaust studies," said Professor Barry Trachtenberg, interim director of the UAlbany Center for Jewish Studies.

Sponsors of the series include: the UAlbany Emeritus Center, the Department of History, the Judaic Studies program, The University at Albany Foundation, and UAlbany's Center for Jewish Studies.