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The 27th Annual Holocaust and Other Genocides Lecture Series

October-November 2004: The Fragility of Democracy

In 1979 then University Chaplain, now emeritus, Beverly Asbury organized what would prove to be the first of the now longest continuous Holocaust Lecture Series at any American university. Under the rubric "Holocaust: Jewish and Christian Perspectives," prominent theologians and philosophers Irving Greenberg, Emil Fackenheim, and Franklin H. Littel as well as one of the leading survivor memoirists, Gerda Klein, spoke to the greater Vanderbilt community.

Since then our ongoing examination of ourselves and our society in the wake of the Holocaust has brought such notable figures as Elie Wiesel, Simon Wiesenthal, Terrence des Pres, Lawrence Langer, Nechama Tec, and Deborah Lipstadt, among many others, to campus and has addressed such themes as ethics, resistance, law, gender, art, and memory. In a world in which we still find racial and religious persecution and even genocide, more than half a century since the Holocaust, the twenty-sixth anniversary of the series is an appropriate time to reflect on difficult and unresolved issues of justice and redress.

The difficulty of doing justice reflects the enormity of the crime. By this standard, we are still struggling to take the measure of the Holocaust. Almost sixty years after the end of World War II, we continue to tax our ethical, legal, financial, political, and artistic resources in an effort to redress the crimes of the Holocaust and make whole the victims of Nazi atrocities. In this twenty-sixth annual Vanderbilt University Holocaust Lecture Series, we focus our attention on the complex issues of the unfinished business of justice, redress, and restitution for the Holocaust and other genocides. What is the relation of financial restitution and reparation to justice for the victims of the Third Reich Do we need new forms of law and memory in the wake of state-sponsored brutality, criminality, and denial Must art respond to genocidal destruction with innovative aesthetic forms and values Need our moral norms, our institutional practices, even our languages be rebuilt from the ground up if we are to respond adequately to the ethical challenge posed by genocide Even now, more than fifty years later, our predicament remains as uncertain as it was in 1945: how to pay the debt of justice to the victims of the greatest crimes.

About the 2004 Lectures

The Vanderbilt University Lecture Series on the Holocaust and other Genocides," reflects the diversity of work that is on-going in the fields of Holocaust and genocide studies, as well as the failure of the international community to uphold the credo and responsibility implicit in the oft-repeated phrase, "never again."

This year the world remembered the 1994 genocidal horrors of Rwanda and sub-Saharan Africa, and is currently responding with tepid resolve in another on-going crisis, deemed by some a genocide-in-the-making, in Western Sudan. The urgency of this series comes to the fore as we attempt to address all of the implications of these horrific current events, and it is a tragic indicator that we have gathered so much potentially valuable knowledge about the many murderous campaigns of the 20th Century.

This year's series, entitled "The Fragility of Democracy," contributes from a range of standpoints to the often insufficient and irresolute measures aimed at the prevention and termination of genocide and human rights violations, against a backdrop of democratic processes both current and historical. This 27th lecture series is appropriately ambitious and wide-ranging in scope and depth, and features an array of media and forums for education and thoughtful reflection.

It is my sincere hope that this will one day become a forum for purely historical studies, and that we will someday live in a world more attuned to eliminating the oppression, hatred and violence named by each of the events we are addressing this year. --Robert Barksy


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2004 Wilson 126 7:30 p.m.
Thomas Childers, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania

Childers is the author and editor of several books on modern German history and the Second World War, including The Nazi Voter (1983), The Formation of the Nazi Constituency (1987), and Reevaluating the Third Reich: New Controversies, New Interpretations (1993). He is currently completing a trilogy on the Second World War.

"The Serpent's Egg: Anti-Semitism and Nazi Electoral Popularity 1930-1933"
In elections held in the spring of 1928, Adolf Hitler?s NSDAP managed to attract less than three percent of the national electorate in Germany. It was an obscure party on the lunatic fringes of German politics with little apparent appeal and little hope for the future. Four years later, the Nazis had become the largest party in Germany and stood on the threshold of power. How had they done it? In addressing this question, the lecture will examine a number of questions: What was the appeal of the NSDAP? Who were the millions who rallied to the Nazi banner? What was the role of Nazi ideology? Of Anti-Semitism? Why was the German political system unable to resist the onslaught of Hitler and what lessons can we in democratic societies draw from the German experience?

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2004 Stevenson 5326. 5:00 p.m.
Courtney Angela Brkic
A short excerpt from my book, "The Stone Fields" will be read, then I talk about the idea of memory and how silence causes traumatic events to fester (using my book as context). I will be discussing this vis a vis the Holocaust, both in a political sense as regards the former Yugoslavia, and in a personal sense as regards my family. I will finish by taking some questions.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2004 Wilson 126 5:00 p.m.
David Gewirtzman & Jacqueline Murekatete
"We Are Our Brother's Keepers"
Murekatete describes briefly her growing up in Rwanda, her experiences during the genocide her subsequent arrival and adjustment in the USA. She follows with her encounter with David Gewirtzman and the decision to work together in the promotion of tolerance. Gewirtzman tells his own story of growing up in pre-war Poland. The experience of a Jewish family during the Holocaust in a small town in Poland where 16 Jews out of 8000 came back alive after liberation.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2004 Sarratt (ALL DAY) - Reservations Required
David Gewirtzman, Gahutu Aimable and Jerry Fowler will be participating in the Educational Outreach Program for high school teachers and students.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2004 Wilson 115 5:00 p.m.
Jerry Fowler
Staff Director, Committee on Conscience
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

"Creating a Constituency of Conscience: The Role of Holocaust Remembrance and Education in Combating Contemporary Genocide"
Focusing on the relationship between memory, conscience and the
problem of genocide, Jerry Fowler addresses the question whether remembering
the past can change the course of the future.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2004 Wilson 126 7:00 p.m.
William Scheuerman, Professor Political Science, University of Minnesota
The Hidden Dialogue: Carl Schmitt and Hans Morgenthau
Carl Schmitt aspired to become the "crown jurist" of Nazi Germany; Hans Morgenthau was a German-Jewish refugee, forced to flee his country, who became one of the most prominent critics of U.S. foreign policy between the 1940's and '70's. The talk examines the dialogue that took place between Schmitt and Morgenthau. Morgenthau was right to claim, in a 1979 interview, that Schmitt plagiarized some of Morgenthau's own key contributions to political and legal theory from the 1920's. Yet Morgenthau conveniently downplayed a number of ways in which he borrowed from Schmitt's ideas without acknowledging their source. The talk explains why Morgenthau's own debt to Schmitt generates internal problems in Morgenthau's ideas about international relations and international law.

Democracy IS Fragile - PLEASE VOTE!

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2004 Wilson 126 5:00 p.m.
Richard Weisberg, Walter Floersheimer Professor of Constitutional Law; Director, Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Studies, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University

" From Vichy Deportations to Present-Day Anti-Semitism: France (Again) at the Crossroads"

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5th - Sarratt 363 - 3:00 p.m.
Graduate Students from Vanderbilt University will present a Forum entitled "Critical Approaches to the Holocaust and the Contemporary World," featuring talks and discussion. All welcome!

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2004 Wilson 126 5:00 p.m.
Donald Horowitz, James B. Duke Professor of Law and Political Science Duke University

Professor Horowitz has been consulted widely on the problems of divided societies and on policies to reduce ethnic conflict in such locations as Russia, Romania, Nigeria, Tatarstan, and Northern Ireland. His recommendations formed the basis of the electoral proposals adopted in 1996 by the Fiji Constitution Review Commission. Among his numerous, award-winning publications is A Democratic South Africa? Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society (1991), which won the 1992 Ralph J. Bunche Prize for the best book in ethnic and cultural pluralism.

"The Deadly Ethnic Riot"
The mass killing of ethnic strangers, often by their onetime neighbors, is a more common phenomenon than most people acknowledge. Based on his studies of hundreds of such events, Professor Horowitz will try to explain the who, how, what, when, where, and why of the deadly ethnic riot.

Film Series
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 7:00 p.m. Sarratt Cinema - Mephisto

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2004. 7:00 p.m. Sarratt Cinema
Mark Kurzem: The Mascot
"The Mascot" is based on events in the life of Alex Kurzem, who, as a young Jewish boy of five, was adopted by an SS regiment in Latvia in 1942. They gave the young boy a new false identity, dressed him in Nazi uniform and, transformed him into their mascot. For nearly 60 years Alex remained silent about these events, but in the late 1990s with his film-maker son Mark, he begins his search for his original ?stolen? identity. The problem is that he has no idea what his original name was, and where he came from. He has only two words which he has kept locked away inside himself since the war. These words may be the key to unlocking Alex?s past but their significance is unknown. The Mascot details the journey Alex makes in search of his past, and the opposition he faced as he sought to reclaim the truth of his fate. Mark Kurzem, Alex?s son, and the writer and producer of ?The Mascot? will introduce the screening of the documentary and take questions after the screening.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2004, Sarratt Cinema - 7 p.m.
Film: Europa, Europa

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