Vanderbilt University

The 29th Annual Holocaust Lecture Series

"Against Cultural Genocide"
October-November 2006

About the lecture series

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.

About the 2006 lectures

In 1943/44, Polish Jewish refugee and professor of international law, Raphael Lemkin combined the Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cide (killing) to give a name to the ongoing, systematic murder of European Jewry and to recall what had happened to the Armenians a quarter century earlier: genocide. According to Lemkin, genocide is

a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups…. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, and dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.

When we consider genocide, we usually focus upon the destruction of the lives of the individuals. As Lemkin's definition indicates, murder is only one of the objectives. This year the Vanderbilt Holocaust Lecture Series is devoted to the rest of the definition. The “essential foundations of the life of national groups” are more than the survival of individuals. “Against Cultural Genocide” explores the systematic attempts to destroy the linguistic, artistic, intellectual, and spiritual bases of  communal life and the efforts by members of those victimized groups to resist such destruction.

Unless noted, all events are free and open to the public.

Painting by Charlotte Salomon from Life? or Theatre?: A Play With Music, 1940–42, Gouache, 12" x 9". Used by permission of the Charlotte Salomon Foundation.


10/14/06: View these materials relating to A Company of Angels: The Story of Charlotte Salomon:

Review in Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune
    - Paintings: Little Charlotte and Trunk, Big Charlotte, Charlotte Salomon By the Sea
    - Photograph of Charlotte and her gradparents
    - Timeline of Charlotte's life
    - Programme text

Schedule of events

(Click on a date to jump to that event)

Saturday-Monday, October 14-16

Trip to United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - (Currently full but you may add your name to a waitlist)

Join other Vanderbilt students for a guided trip through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. This event will take place over the fall break and is open to full-time Vanderbilt students only. A $75 co-pay is required and space is limited. For more information call 322-2457.

Thursday, October 19, 7:00 p.m.
Lecture, Renaissance Room, Law School  (
map | parking)

Genocide in Guatemala: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Beatriz Manz

Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of California at Berkeley

How could a genocide take place so close to the U.S. and be so hidden? The terror in Guatemala's countryside was devastating, with the expected deep scars for Mayan survivors. Professor Beatriz Manz will reflect on the geopolitics of the early 1980s and on Guatemala's history of repressing the Mayan people and culture. The lecture will present contemporary observations on the devastation from the perspective of one K'iche' Maya village. Beyond her academic accomplishments, Professor Manz has devoted herself to human rights issues, working with such international institutions as UNHCR Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies, the Center for the Americas, and the Department of Spanish and Portugese.

Sunday, October 22, 7:00 p.m.
Film and discussion, Sarratt Cinema  (
map | parking)


(2005, Hungary/Germany/U.K.)

Directed by Lajos Koltai

Based on the autobiographical novel of 2002 Nobel Literature Prize winner Imre Kertesz, Fateless unfolds from the naive perspective of a 14-year-old Hungarian Jewish boy as he journeys from occupied Budapest through a series of death and concentration camps—Auschwitz-Birkenau, Zeitz, and Buchenwald—to his liberation and return to a less-than-welcoming Budapest. The audience joins the author, the filmmaker, and their protagonist at the bounds of human experience to confront the question of human freedom or fate. Discussion of the film will follow the screening. Co-sponsored by the Nashville Jewish Film Festival.

Wednesday, October 25, 7:30 p.m.

Performance and discussion
Belcourt Theatre, 2102 Belcourt Avenue
Hillsboro Village

A Company of Angels: The Story of Charlotte Salomon

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre

Minneapolis, MN

A Company of Angels tells the haunting story of a young German Jewish artist, Charlotte Salomon, who in 1940-41, created "Life? Or Theatre?"—a dazzlingly brilliant collection of more than 1,000 autobiographical paintings. In a production combining movement, music, and visual arts, the Minneapolis-based mask-and-puppet-theatre troupe In the Heart of the Beast animates the life story and artistic vision of a passionate young woman caught up in the tragedy of the Holocaust. After the performance Vanderbilt Professor Emeritus Fred Westfield, who was rescued from Germany on a Kindertransport at age 12, will share stories and take questions about Jewish life in the Third Reich and about his current efforts to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

Sunday, October 29, 7:00 p.m.
Lecture, Renaissance Room, Law School  (
map | parking)

Medical Ethics in the Shadow of the Holocaust:
The Nazi Doctors, Racial Hygiene, Murder, and Genocide

Michael Alan Grodin, M.D.

Professor of Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights
Boston University School of Public Health

Professor of Psychiatry, Sociomedical Sciences and Community Medicine
Boston University School of Medicine

Physicians played a key role in the Third Reich’s sterilization and euthanasia programs, conducted torturous human experimentation, and ultimately selected who would live and who would die in Auschwitz. Internationally renowned bioethicist and human rights activist Dr. Michael Alan Grodin examines how physician healers turned to torture and murder and what lessons for contemporary medical ethics can be derived. In addition to his extensive scholarly work, including editing of such important collections of bioethics research as The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code: Human Rights in Human Experimentation and Health and Human Rights: A Reader, Dr. Grodin co-founded Global Lawyers and Physicians: Working Together for Human Rights and co-directs the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights. Co-sponsored by the School of Medicine Dean’s Lecture Series.

Wednesday, November 1, 7:00 p.m.

Film and discussion with filmmaker, Sarratt Cinema  (
map | parking)

Darfur Diaries: Message from Home

(2005, U.S.A.)

Written, produced, and directed by Aisha Bain, Jen Marlowe, and Adam Shapiro

In October 2004, a team of three independent filmmakers—Aisha Bain, Jen Marlowe, and Adam Shapiro—left for the villages of Darfur, Sudan, and the refugee camps of eastern Chad. The crisis there serves as the ongoing narrative in the film, but the focus is on the people who are living through what has been termed a genocide. Through the voices of refugees, displaced persons, and in particular women and children, who are always among the most vulnerable in any conflict situation, this film seeks to provide space for the marginalized victims of atrocities to speak and to engage with the world. One of the filmmakers will be in attendance to discuss the film and the crisis in Darfur. Co-sponsored by Vanderbilt STAND (Students Take Action Now: Darfur).

Sunday, November 5, 7:30 p.m.

Lecture, Schulman Center  (
map | parking)

A Yiddish Writer Survives the Shoah

Chava Rosenfarb
Alberta Canada (by way of Lodz, Poland)

The multi-prizewinning Yiddish author Chava Rosenfarb will speak about continuing to write in Yiddish after the Holocaust and the destruction of the Yiddish-speaking cultural community of Eastern Europe. Born in Lodz, Poland, Ms. Rosenfarb survived the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz, and Bergen-Belsen. She began writing poetry in Yiddish at the age of eight, Her 1979 novel Der Boym fun Lieb received the Itsik Manger Prize, the world’s highest Yiddish literature honor, and has since been translated into English as The Tree of Life. More recently, her translated collection of seven short stories, Survivors, has been published.

Wednesday, November 8, 7:00 p.m.
Lecture, Renaissance Room, Law School  (
map | parking)

While Six Million Died: Cultural Genocide in Poland

Piotr Wróbel

Konstanty Reynert Chair of Polish Studies
University of Toronto

Beginning with the Third Reich’s invasion from the west on September 1, 1939, joined less than three weeks later by the Soviet Union’s from the east, Poland and its population were subjected to systematic destruction, murder, and persecution that would continue for more than five years. Professor Piotr Wróbel details how the Nazis and Soviets waged their war against Polish culture, destroying its scientific, artistic, and educational institutions and murdering the doctors, professors, writers, and clergy who sustained it. An internationally renowned scholar of Polish-Jewish Studies who has taught at major universities in Warsaw, Berlin, and Oxford, as well as in the U.S., Professor Wrobel has authored numerous articles and books, most recently Nation and History: Polish Historians from the Enlightenment to the Second World War.

In conjunction

Monday, September 25, 7:00 p.m.

Speaker, Vanderbilt University Student Life Center

Paul Rusesabagina

Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation

Sponsored by Vasnderbilt Speakers Committee. For ticket information, call 322-2471.

Monday, October 9, 6:00 p.m.

Film, Black Cultural Center Auditorium

The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till

(2005, U.S.A.)

Directed by Keith Beauchamp

The Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center sponsors this documentary examination of the case of Emmett Louis Till. In 1955, while visiting family in the South, Chicago native Emmett Till was brutally murdered for whistling at a white woman. Together with the subsequent sham trial of the alleged perpetrators, the case proved to be a primary catalyst of the American Civil Rights Movement. The investigation undertaken by the filmmaker led the U.S. Justice Department to reopen the case nearly fifty years later. Discussion will follow this screening.

Tuesday, October 24, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Workshop, Vanderbilt University Student Life Center

Living On: Portraits of Tennessee Survivors and Liberators

The Irvin and Elizabeth Limor Educational Outreach Program of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission

For 2006, this interdisciplinary workshop, designed for middle and high school teachers as well as high school students with some background in the Holocaust, introduces participants to the exhibition Living On: Portraits of Tennessee Survivors and Liberators and its possible uses in the classroom. For registration information, call (615) 343-1171 or e-mail

Thursday, October 26, 10:00 a.m.

Performance for secondary school students.
Belcourt Theatre, 2102 Belcourt Avenue
Hillsboro Village

A Company of Angels: The Story of Charlotte Salomon

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre

Minneapolis, MN

A performance of the play by the Minneapolis-based mask-and-puppet-theatre troupe In the Heart of the Beast will be held for secondary school students and teachers. Local teen participants in the March of the Living will speak after the show.

Monday, October 30, noon

Lecture, Light Hall 208

Mad, Bad, or Evil: How Physician Healers Turn to Torture and Murder from Nazi Germany to Abu Ghraib

Professor Michael Alan Grodin, M.D.

Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine

Sponsored by the School of Medicine Dean's Lecture Series

Tuesday, November 7, 6:00 p.m.

Film, Black Cultural Center Auditorium

From Swastika to Jim Crow

(2000, U.S.A.)

Directed by Lori Cheatle and Martin D. Toub

Based on the book by Gabrielle Simon Edgcomb, this documentary examines the little-known story of Jewish refugee scholars who fled Nazi Germany only to arrive in America and be greeted by antisemitism and xenophobia. Excluded from elite universities, they found a home in an unusual place: traditionally Black colleges in the segregated South. Discussion will follow this Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center sponsored screening.

Sunday-Saturday, November 12-18

Belcourt Theatre, 2102 Belcourt Avenue
Hillsboro Village

Sixth Annual Nashville Jewish Film Festival

For additional information, contact Laurie Eskind, NJFF Director, at (615) 385-2105 or visit the Web site at

Related links


Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee
NCCJ, Nashville Chapter
Tennessee Holocaust Commission
Vanderbilt University
Bishop Johnson Black Cultural Center
Blair School of Music
Cal Turner Program for Moral Leadership
Center for the Study of Religion and Culture
College of Arts and Science
Department of Communication Studies and Theatre
Department of Comparative Literature
Department of English
Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages
Department of History
Department of Philosophy
Department of Psychology
Department of Religious Studies
Department of Sociology
International Programs
Program in Jewish Studies
Divinity School
Division of the Dean of Students
John F. Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development
Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center
Office for GLBT Life
Office of Housing and Residential Education
Office of Student Activities
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Office of the University Chaplain and Affiliated Ministries
Baptist Student Center
Presbyterian Campus Ministry
Reformed University Fellowship
Saint Augustine's Episcopal Chapel
Vanderbilt Catholic Community
Vanderbilt Hillel
The Wesley Foundation
Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs
Opportunity Development Center
Peabody College
Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities
School of Engineering
School of Law
School of Medicine
School of Nursing
Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies

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