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Israeli Scholar to Lecture at Clark on Final Days of Holocaust

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

 

Clark University’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies will host Hebrew University Professor Daniel Blatman on Thurs., March 14, for a discussion of his most recent book, The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Tilton Hall at the Higgins University Center. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Worcester Jewish Community Center Cultural Arts Series and is free and open to the public.


A professor and renowned scholar of Modern Jewish history and Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Blatman is also the head of the Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry. He has worked on the history of the Jewish labor movement in Eastern Europe, the Holocaust in Poland, and on Nazi annihilation policy at the end of World War II. Recipient of the Jakob Buchman Prize for the Memory of the Holocaust and the Pridan Prize for Studies in East European Jewish History, Blatman, has held visiting professorships and fellowships at Tel Aviv University, New York University, Georgetown University, and the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“Professor Blatman’s visit deepens the Strassler Center’s engagement with Israeli academics researching the Holocaust, and it is part of a broader initiative to jointly strengthen Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark and in Israel,” said Mary Jane Rein, executive director of the Strassler Center.

For his exceptional scholarly work, Blatman was awarded a four-year grant from the Israel Science Foundation to conduct research on “The Death Marches and the Evacuation of the Concentration Camps, January-May 1945.”

His newest book’s focus is the final deadly months of the Third Reich when approximately 250,000 concentration camp inmates perished on forced marches and in brutal cases of mass killing. He draws on archival sources and testimonies of victims, perpetrators, and bystanders, to examine the closing stages of Nazi atrocities and situates them in the broader context of the history of the Holocaust.

"He worked on this book over a period of almost ten years," says Michael Nolte, a doctoral student at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

"The time Blatman invested in writing the book is reflected in the detail of his scholarship. Providing the first comprehensive account on the death marches, he elucidates the final killing frenzy of the Third Reich. The results of his work are groundbreaking."

Nolte explains the uniqueness of the work further.

"During the concluding phase of Nazi mass murder, for instance, the circle of perpetrators widened. When concentration camp guards drove the inmates on long and exhausting death marches, local officials, members of civilian militias, and ordinary Germans joined the killings. So far, Holocaust historiography has widely ignored this group of executioners."

In a review published in the Wall Street Journal, Yale University Professor Timothy Snyder writes, “Mr. Blatman chronicles, authoritatively, an important chapter in the history of Nazi Germany. But because the death marches and associated massacres do not fit our presumptions about genocide, his important book opens again the crucial question of the 20th century: why we kill.”

Visits by Israeli scholars to the Center and by Center faculty to Israel have long been part of the academic life of the Strassler Center and have proved invaluable to students and faculty.

The Higgins University Center is located at 950 Main Street in Worcester. For more information about this event, call 508-793-8897.
 

 

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