Monthly Archives: October 2015

Language seminar 2 (week 4, semester 1)

In this seminar we covered the following: 

Second 10 letters: vov, yud, khof, lamed, nun, pey, fey, tsadik, resh, shin.

Below is a recap videos to help you practice the letters we learnt this week:

If you have any questions, please use the comments field below.

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David Cesarani obituary

[From The Guardian]

David Cesarani, who has died aged 58 following surgery to remove a tumour on his spine, was the leading British-based historian of his generation of the modern experience of the Jews. He was also a notable commentator and broadcaster on the Jewish past and present, and took a prominent role in Holocaust education in Britain and abroad.

In the mid-1980s he led research by the All-Party Parliamentary War Crimes Group into Nazi criminals and collaborators who had come to live in Britain after the second world war. The result of this was an official report that evoked considerable public concern when published in 1987 and ultimately led to the creation of the 1991 War Crimes Act, which controversially extended British legal jurisdiction to cover war crimes committed elsewhere.

Lecturing on the history of the Holocaust to groups within and without the Anglo-Jewish community, which was a feature of his work in the 80s, led to his involvement in the British government delegation to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education and to work with the Home Office unit responsible for establishing Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain, which was first observed in 2001.

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Language seminar 1 (week 3, semester 1)

This week, we covered the following: 

What is Yiddish? 10 letters of the alphabet: pasekh alef, ayin, komets alef, beys, daled, giml, hey, mem, tes, samekh.

Below is a link to the short recap video to help you practice the letters we learnt this week.

If you have any questions, please use the comments field below.

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Filed under Handwriting practice, Language seminars, Yiddish materials 2: language and grammar

London Film Festival: My Nazi Legacy

my-nazi-legacy-stillThe subject of the holocaust is a difficult one to discuss on film, not least because so much has been done on it before. Human rights lawyer Philippe Sands’s latest feature, My Nazi Legacy, alternatively titled A Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did, begins as a fairly standard effort, with archive footage, moody music and a slightly monotonous voiceover. The subjects are two men in their 70s, an Austrian and a German, who are the sons respectively of Nazi war criminals Otto Wächter and Hans Frank. Both were key architects of Hitler’s policies throughout the eastern part of Germany, collectively responsible for thousands of deaths. Horst von Wächter and Niklas Frank are interviewed over a series of months about their fathers, families and lives during and after the war.

The film gains a real hold, however, when it becomes apparent that a rift is growing between the two men. Niklas becomes increasingly uncomfortable with Horst’s determinedly rose-tinted view of his father, who was known by some as “the butcher of Poland”. Niklas condemns his own father for his crimes and for his lack of paternal affection, while Horst firmly believes that von Wächter was good inside and had little idea over the atrocities being committed under his command. He pities Niklas, saying that he is an egomaniac whose “life is practically annihilated by his father”. The fascinating difference between two men with such similar backgrounds becomes the documentary’s most interesting element, with Sands’s increasingly difficult relationship with von Wächter adding an unusual tension not seen in the average history documentary.

[My Nazi Legacy is released in select cinemas on 20th November 2015.]

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Language seminars begin this week

Just a brief reminder that there will be no lecture this week (week beginning Monday 19th October).

This week, however, we begin Yiddish language seminars which will be held as follows:

  • Tuesday 20th October, 11am-12pm, group 1 (LR2)
  • Thursday October 22nd, 12pm-1pm, group 2 (LR1)
  • Friday 23rd October, 1pm-2pm, group 3 (LR1)

Please check your timetable and the group lists on blackboard to make sure you attend the right seminar slot.


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Lecture 2, semester 1

In this lecture, we read together the introduction to Bauman’s landmark work, Modernity and the Holocaust. Bauman’s work raises some of the key topics we will be looking at in this module: is the Holocaust an outgrowth of European civilization (what Bauman terms ‘modernity’) or is it a dreadful aberration? To what extent is it possible to trace and account for the origins of antisemitism in European culture? And how does that antisemitism relate to the Holocaust? What are the limits of what we can know about the Holocaust? How should we respond to it as scholars? Bauman does not give us easy answers to these questions, but examines them in detail and gives us some interesting ways of approaching them. In particular, we looked at what Bauman’s ideas might have to say to us about music history.

Here are the sources I mentioned during the lecture, following Welch’s five ‘tendencies’ in Holocaust Studies (download Welch’s article here)

1. Intentionalism

Yehuda Bauer, A History of the Holocaust (New York: F. Watts, 1982);

Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984);

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: the growing assault on truth and memory (New York and Toronto: Free Press, 1993)

Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945, 10th anniversary ed. (New York: Seth Press; Distributed by Free Press, 1986);

Eberhard Jäckel and Jürgen Rohwer, eds., Der Mord an den Juden im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Entschlußbildung und Verwirklichung (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1985).

2. Functionalism/Structuralism

Hans Mommsen, “Cumulative Radicalisation and Progressive Self-Destruction as Structural Determinants of the Nazi Dictatorship,” in Stalinism and Nazism: dictatorships in comparison, ed. Ian Kershaw and Moshe Lewin (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 75-87.

Martin Broszat, “Hitler and the Genesis of the ‘Final Solution’: An Assessment of David Irving’s Theses,” in Aspects of the Third Reich, ed. H.W. Koch (London: Macmillan, 1985), 390-429;

Hans Mommsen, “The Realization of the Unthinkable: The ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Question’ in the Third Reich,” in The Policies of Genocide.  Jews and Soviet Prisoners of War in Nazi Germany, ed. Gerhard Hirschfeld (London: Allen and Unwin, 1986), 93-144;

Uwe Dietrich Adam, Judenpolitik im Dritten Reich (Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1972).

3. “Moderate” Functionalism

Dieter Pohl, Von der “Judenpolitik” zum Judenmord: der Distrikt Lublin des Generalgouvernements, 1939-1944 (Frankfurt am Main; New York: P. Lang, 1993);

Dieter Pohl, “Hans Krüger and the Murder of the Jews in the Stanislawow Region (Galcia),” Yad Vashem Studies 26 (1998): 239-64;

Thomas Sandkühler, “Endlösung” in Galizien: der Judenmord in Ostpolen und die Rettungsinitiativen von Berthold Beitz, 1941-1944 (Bonn: Dietz, 1996); Gerlach, “The Wannsee Conference, the Fate of the German Jews”;

Ulrich Herbert, ed., Nationalsozialistische Vernichtungspolitik 1939-1945: Neue Forschungen und Kontroversen (Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1998), English translation under the title National-Socialist Extermination Policies: Contemporary German Perspectives and Controversies (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000).

4. Genocide Studies

Omer Bartov, “Defining Enemies, Making Victims: Germans, Jews, and the Holocaust,” American Historical Review 103 (1998): 771-816.

Israel W. Charny, ed., Genocide: a critical bibliographic review, 3 vols. (London: Mansell, 1988-94);

Mark Levene, “Is the Holocaust Simply Another Example of Genocide?,” Patterns of Prejudice 28 (1994): 3-26;

Henry R. Huttenbach, “Locating the Holocaust on the Genocide Spectrum: Towards a Methodology of Definition and Categorization,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 3 (1988): 289-303.

5. Holocaust in/as Modernity

Michael Prinz and Rainer Zitelmann, eds., Nationalsozialismus und Modernisierung (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1991);

Uwe Backes, Eckhard Jesse, and Rainer Zitelmann, eds., Die Schatten der Vergangenheit: Impulse zur Historisierung des Nationalsozialismus (Berlin: Propylaen, 1990).


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Holocaust historians criticise Austria’s jailing of Jewish author

[From The Guardian]

2534A historian and vocal critic of the Austrian government’s irresolute attitude towards returning properties stolen from their Jewish owners by the Nazis will be jailed on Monday after being convicted of defrauding the state, in what leading Holocaust historians have condemned as a “deeply troubling overreaction”.

Stephan Templ, the author of Unser Wien (Our Vienna), a book that catalogued hundreds of prominent Jewish-owned properties seized by the Nazis that were never returned, received a one-year sentence as punishment for having omitted the name of an estranged aunt in an application on behalf of his mother for the return of property seized from his Jewish relatives in 1938.

Templ’s book, co-written by the historian Tina Walzer, created a huge stir when it was published in 2001. It included little-known accounts of Viennese landmarks – from the city’s famous ferris wheel to luxury hotels – that had been Aryanised and for which owners or heirs had been either never, or insufficiently, compensated.

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First lecture of the module: What is/was the Holocaust?

In this lecture, we will look at some of the key questions that we will try to answer in this module: where does the name “Holocaust” come from? What other names are there for the Holocaust? What challenges does the Holocaust pose for trying to understand what Alain Badiou called the ‘accursed century’? In particular, how does thinking about the Holocaust affect the way we think about music? We also take a short tour through the structure of the module, talk about how it will be structured, how it will be assessed and the kinds of things we expect of you on this module. We also talk about the languages of the Holocaust: what languages did the victims speak? Who were they? Finally, this session gives a very brief overview of the kinds of music-making that victims undertook during the Holocaust.
During the lecture, we’ll listen to the following music:
  • S’brent” 1938 Words and music by Mordechai Gebirtig; Written in response to a 1936 pogrom in the Polish town of Przyty, Performed by Bente Kahan on Farewell Krakow (Victoria, Norway, 1992 )
  • Victor Ullmann: Der Kaiser von Atlantis opera (1944) written in concentration camp Theresienstadt
  • Hans Krása: Brundibár children’s opera (1938, first performed in Theresienstadt)
Also worth looking at are the following:
  • Brave Old World, Song of the Lodz Ghetto (Winter & Winter, CD 910 104-2, 2005) See video about this here.
  • Jewish Life: The Old Country edited by Ruth Rubin (Smithsonian Folkways)
Please feel free to start a discussion, ask any questions or make any comments below.

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