The 1939 Society

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Since its establishment in 1993, the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies has presented high quality academic programming in Holocaust studies through support from the 1939 Society, a community of survivors, their relatives, and friends.

Between 2007 and 2010, the Center was the home for a major award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Beginning with a focus on understandings and representations of the Holocaust in American literature and culture the UCLA/Mellon Program on the Holocaust in American and World Culture, supported a significantly broader array of activities, including:

  • Comparative literary and cultural approaches to the Holocaust
  • The evolution of knowledge of, and disciplinary approaches to, the Holocaust
  • The near destruction and revival of Yiddish language, literature and historiography
  • The “universalization” of the Holocaust and its relation to other instances of genocide

The Center remains deeply committed to continuing a critical engagement of the manifold dimensions of genocide and Holocaust studies through first-rate research, teaching, programming, library holdings and service learning.

1939 Society

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Holocaust Events 2014-2015

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How to Accept German Reparations

October 23, 2014
In a landmark process after the Holocaust, Germany created the largest sustained redress program in history, amounting to more than $60 billion. When human rights violations are presented primarily in material terms, acknowledging an indemnity claim becomes one way for a victim to be recognized. At the same time, indemnifications provoke difficult questions about how suffering and loss can be measured. Slyomovics, daughter of a survivor, maintains that we can use the legacies of German reparations to reconsider approaches to reparations in the future.
Talk by Susan Slyomovics (UCLA)

Video
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For the Good of Tomorrow, Preserve Yesterday

November 20, 2014
Twenty years ago, the International Auschwitz Council confronted this harsh reality: the ravages of time were devouring every barracks, building, shoe and suitcase remaining from the twisted world that was Auschwitz-Birkenau under the Nazis. Join Piotr Cywiński, a historian with a background in inter-religious dialogue, for a stimulating and provocative presentation of how the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum, a pilgrimage destination for 1.5 million visitors from around the world, functions in contemporary Poland, and what is needed to maintain it.

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It Did Happen Here: Anti-Nazi Activism in Los Angeles

November 25, 2014
Hitler’s ascent to power in Germany in 1933 gave rise to a wave of shocking, public displays of anti-Semitism in Los Angeles and the formation of several local fascist organizations, including the German American Bund. While some responded to these developments with indifference, Jewish residents actively mobilized their community, forming new organizations to combat both Hitler’s murderous campaign abroad and his local supporters. Historians Laura Rosenzweig and Caroline Luce will discuss their forthcoming digital exhibit on this little known chapter in Los Angeles history.

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The Holocaust in Farsi

January 13, 2015
The Holocaust has not been taught in schools in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Indeed, in recent years, some Holocaust revisionist history and even neo-Nazi ideology has been offered to university-level students. Holocaust, the first Farsi-language nonfiction work on the subject, describes the rise of Nazism in Germany to the final days of World War II in three volumes, featuring graphic photographs from the era as well as U.S. and European government documents. The fourth volume chronicles other 20th century genocides.
With support from the 1939 Society

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Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

March 12, 2015
Wendy Lower’s stunning account of the role of German women on the World War II Nazi eastern front powerfully revises history, proving that we have ignored the reality of women’s participation in the Holocaust, including as brutal killers. Drawing on twenty years of research that included access to post-Soviet documents and interviews with German witnesses, Lower makes an incisive case for the massive complicity, and worse, of the 500,000 young German women she places, for the first time, directly in the killing fields of the expanding Reich.
With support from the 1939 Society

Podcast

UCLA Faculty Working in Holocaust Studies

Saul P. Friedländer

Distinguished Emeritus Professor of History, a winner of the 2014 Dan David Prize, is author of Nazi Germany and the Jews, vol. 2: The Years of Extermination (2007) and Nazi Germany and the Jews, vol. 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 (1997).

David N. Myers

Professor and Chair of History, partnered with Prof. Richard Hovannisian to edit Enlightenment and Diaspora: The Armenian and Jewish Cases (1999).

Todd Presner

Director of the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and Professor of Germanic Languages and Comparative Literature, is author of Mobile Modernity: Germans, Jews, Trains (2007) and A Message in a Bottle: Holocaust Writing on the Edge of Death (in progress).

Susan Slyomovics

Professor of Anthropology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, is the author of How to Accept German Reparations (2014).

Sarah Abrevaya Stein

Professor of History, is the author of Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria (2014) and co-editor of Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950 (2014).

Graduate Studies

Today, graduate students across the Social Sciences and Humanities Divisions are engaged in researching the Holocaust and genocide in an innovative and interdisciplinary manner, one that is not limited by any singular perspective. Departments with Ph.D. candidates doing Holocaust research include Comparative Literature, English and Italian as well as History.

Recent Dissertations in Holocaust Studies

Germanic Languages

Marc T. Voss, Preventing Auschwitz from Happening Again: A Multinational

Empirical Study on the Contribution of Literature, Poetry, and Film in Representing the Holocaust. 2010.

History

Kierra Crago-Schneider, Jewish ‘Shtetls’ in Postwar Germany: An Analysis of Interactions among Jewish Displaced Persons, Germans, and Americans between 1945 and 1957 in Bavaria. 2013.

Rachel Deblinger, “In a World Still Trembling”: American Jewish Philanthropy and the Shaping of Holocaust Survivor Narratives in Postwar America (1945-1953). 2014

Mark Lewis, International Legal Movements against War Crimes, Terrorism, and Genocide, 1919-1948. 2009.

Slavic Languages & Literatures

Naya Lekht, Narratives of Return: Babii Iar and Holocaust Literature in the Soviet Union. 2013.

Undergraduate Service Learning

Over the past five years, Professor Todd Presner has developed an innovative service learning course in which undergraduate students work closely with survivors on a project to facilitate public knowledge of the Holocaust. The class represents a partnership with the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles’ Café Europa, the 1939 Society, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and Hillel at UCLA.

In 2012 and 2013, students in Between History & Memory: Interviewing Holocaust Survivors in the Digital Age created audio tours and digital maps that tell powerful stories of lives uprooted in Europe and reinvented in the U.S. Their final projects allowed the students to become stewards of the survivors’ stories and are now part of the permanent exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Students described the class as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Undergraduate students may also apply for the Sarah & Eugene Zinn Memorial Scholarship for Holocaust Studies which supports programs of study, internships or research projects that apply the knowledge of the Jewish experience, and especially the lessons of the Holocaust, to contemporary society and social justice issues.

Major Holocaust Programming

In addition to high-caliber seminars, colloquia and the annual 1939 Society Distinguished Lecture in Holocaust Studies, the Center regularly hosts international conferences on the Holocaust, and brings major exhibitions to UCLA. The impact of these programs is great, as all are open to students, faculty and the wider Los Angeles community.


 

ShanghaiJewish Refugees in Shanghai (1933-1941)

(October 2013)

UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, UCLA Hillel, and Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum; cosponsored by UCLA Confucius Institute, UCLA Center for Chinese Studies and Shanghai Foreign Affairs Office of Hongkou District; with the support of the UCLA Departments of History, Germanic Languages and Ethnomusicology; the UCLA Library, Facing History and Ourselves, the Goldrich Family Foundation, the German Consulate General in Los Angeles, the 1939 Society, Stephen O. Lesser and the Natalie Limonick Fund. (Click image to view program pdf)



ForbiddenArtFORBIDDEN ART: Camp Art from the Collections of the Auschwitz Memorial

(Jan. 2013)
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and UCLA Hillel; cosponsored by St. Alban’s Episcopal Church; the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland; the German Consulate General in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the UCLA Department of Germanic Languages and the UCLA Department of History; with the support of The “1939” Club, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, the Goldrich Family Foundation and Mimi and Werner Wolfen. (Click image to view program pdf)


 

BulgariaBulgaria and the Holocaust: The Fragility of Goodness

(November 2012)
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and Hillel at UCLA; cosponsored by UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies, UCLA Department of History, UCLA Mickey Katz Chair in Jewish Music and the Consulate General of Bulgaria in Los Angeles; with support of the Bulgarian Jewish Heritage Alliance of America and The “1939” Club. (Click image to view program pdf)


 

HistoryUnlimitedHistory Unlimited: Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture

(April 2012)
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and UCLA Department of History  UCLA Department of History with support from the ‘1939’ Club, and UC Humanities Research Institute. (Click image to view program pdf)

 


 

RecoveredVoicesRecovered Voices: Staging Suppressed Opera of the Early 20th Century

(April 2010)
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and the OREL Foundation. (Click image to view poster)

 

 


 

AestheticsAesthetics after the Holocaust: Exploring the Problem of Aesthetic Reactions to the Holocaust

(February 2010)
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and UCLA/Mellon Program on the Holocaust in American and World Culture. (Click image to view program pdf)

 


 

Jews and Judaism in the Work and Biography of Franz Werfel

(October 2010)
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, Department of Germanic Languages and UCLA Center for European and Eurasian Studies

 


 

mythThe Myth of Silence: Who Spoke about the Holocaust and When

(October 2009)
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, the ‘1939’ Club, and the UCLA/Mellon Program on the Holocaust in American and World Culture. (Click image to view program pdf)

 


 

FrenchJewishThe Jewish Question in French Philosophy after the Holocaust

(December 2008)
UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies and the UCLA/Mellon Program on the Holocaust in American and World Culture. (Click image to view program pdf)

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