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Fall Lecture

The Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University, in partnership with the Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, sponsors an annual fall lecture in Holocaust studies. The 2019 fall lecture will be given by Dariusz Stola (Polish Academy of Sciences | Polin Museum Director), and will be held on October 22.

POLIN – Museum of Life / Holocaust Site
Tuesday, October 22, 7:00 PM
Harris Hall, Room 108

POLIN – the Museum of the History of Polish Jews opened its core exhibition less than five years ago. Already it has attracted millions of visitors as well as media attention in Poland and abroad. The Museum stands in the former Warsaw ghetto in front of the famous memorial to its heroes and martyrs, but it is not a Holocaust museum. POLIN commemorates the thousand year history of Jewish lives in Poland from the tenth century to the present. Dariusz Stola, Director of POLIN and Professor of History at the Polish Academy of Sciences, will discuss the museum, its history, and its mission and activities, which have brought it international acclaim, museum awards – and more recently, vicious media attacks and political controversies.

Information about past fall lectures can be found below.

Saints and Liars: American Relief and Rescue Workers during the Nazi Era
Thursday, October 18, 5:00 PM
Harris Hall 108

A number of Americans — Quakers, Unitarians, Jews, secular people — traveled around the globe to offer relief and to rescue victims of Nazi Germany and its allies. Who were these intrepid souls who perceived possibilities for action where so many of their fellow citizens saw none? What did they accomplish and how? Exploring the experiences of Americans who undertook these initiatives and the imperiled people they helped, Professor Debórah Dwork (Senior Research Scholar and Founding Director, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University) opens a window on the derring-do and the daily grind of desperate rescue operations.


Polish “Blue Police” and the Extermination of the Polish Jews, 1939 – 1945

The Chabraja Center for Historical Studies and the Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University presented a lecture by Prof. Jan Grabowski (University of Ottawa), “Polish ‘Blue Police’ and the Extermination of the Polish Jews, 1939 – 1945.”

The Polish “Blue” Police were created by the Germans shortly after the conquest of Poland.  The organization, which numbered some 20,000 officers was, from the early days of the occupation, responsible for the enforcement of various German regulations directed against the Polish Jews such as branding, restrictions on the usage of public transportation, curfews, registration of Jewish property, supervision of Jewish forced labor as well as the resettlement of Jews into the ghettos. The lecture will  focus on the role of the “Blue” police during the  later period, when the Polish officers took part in the brutal liquidation of the ghettos in Poland.   Sometimes acting under the German orders and sometimes demonstrating a surprising degree of own agency, the Polish “Blue” police became one of the deadliest, non-German agents in the destruction of European Jews.

The lecture took place in Harris Hall 108 on Monday, October 23 at 5:00 PM.


Paul Jaskot Lecture – A Plan, a Testimony, and a Digital Map: Architecture and the Spaces of the Holocaust

The Holocaust was a profoundly spatial experience that involved not only the movement of millions of European Jews but also their confinement and murder in sites specifically built for the genocide. Professor Paul Jaskot’s (DePaul University) talk addressed how perpetrators thought of their building projects and, conversely, how victims experienced these oppressive spaces. Analyzing the architecture of the Holocaust helps us in understanding the larger development, implementation and context of this crucial event in human history. Taking an architectural plan and a specific survivor testimony as examples, the lecture also explored how recent methods in the Digital Humanities–particularly digital mapping–can be used to investigate plans and testimonies to raise new questions about the spatial and historical significance of the Holocaust. The lecture yook place on Tuesday, September 27 at 12:30 PM in Harris Hall 108.


Jonathan Petropoulos Lecture – Culture, Barbarism, and Justice: Recent Developments Concerning Nazi Art Looting and Postwar Restitution

Jonathan Petropoulos, John V. Croul Professor of European History at Claremont McKenna College, gave a talk at Northwestern University on October 27, 2015. Professor Petropoulos’ lecture, “Culture, Barbarism, and Justice: Recent Developments Concerning Nazi Art Looting and Postwar Restitution,” demonstrated how the Nazis were not only the most systematic mass murderers of all time, but the greatest thieves. Nazi art looting and the Holocaust are inextricably linked, and this imparts certain responsibilities for those engaged in the recovery and restitution of looted artworks.  In this lecture, Professor Jonathan Petropoulos drew on over thirty years of experience working on the topic of looting and restitution. He talked about why Allied restitution efforts came up short in the early postwar years, and then discussed more recent cases where he has been an expert witness, including Altmann v. Austria (which concerned six paintings by Gustav Klimt), Grosz v. MoMA (three pictures by George Grosz), and Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza (a work by Camille Pissarro). There has been, in Stuart Eizenstat’s words, “imperfect justice” and the work to complete “the unfinished business of World War II” continues.


Christopher Browning Lecture – 45 Years as a Holocaust Historian

Christopher Browning’s research focuses on the Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. He has written extensively about three issues: first, Nazi decision- and policy-making in regard to the origins of the Final Solution; second, the behavior and motives of various middle- and lower-echelon personnel involved in implementing Nazi Jewish policy; and thirdly, the use of survivor testimony to explore Jewish responses and survival strategies.

Some Notable Publications:


Bernard Wasserstein Lecture

The NU History Department, Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, Crown Center for Jewish & Israel Studies, and the Holocaust Educational Foundation of NU sponsored a lecture by Bernard Wasserstein (University of Chicago). “The Ambiguity of Virtue: Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews” took place Tuesday, March 4th at 12:15 p.m. (with catered lunch).

For more on Prof. Wassestein, see