Vanderbilt’s Holocaust Lecture Series marks 30th year; 2007 theme is ‘Broken Silence’

The longest running Holocaust Lecture Series at an American university marks its 30th year with lectures and films this October and November spanning subjects from the life of children in Nazi Germany to genocide in Iraq and ethnic cleansing in the United States.

“The theme of ‘Broken Silence’ for this year’s series reaffirms our long-standing commitment to expand the frontiers of our conversation about the Holocaust and other genocides by providing a stage for new perspectives, new questions and for conveying those narratives that have struggled to find a voice or an audience,” said the co-chairs of the planning committee for the series, Shaiya Baer and Irek Kusmierczyk. “Hence, in these lectures, we will listen to the voices of victimized Jews as well as Kurds and Armenians, and, in the process, we find the courage to confront the question of racial cleansing on American soil.”

The schedule of events, all free and open to the public:

7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, in Sarratt Cinema
“The Skeleton in Our Closet: Misremembering America’s Racial Cleansings”
Journalist Elliot Jaspin, a Pulitzer Prize winner, speaks about episodes in America after Reconstruction until the Great Depression where organized groups of white people terrorized, murdered and forced thousands of black Americans to flee their homes. Jaspin is the author of Buried in Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America.
7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, in the Moore Room of Vanderbilt Law School
“The Iraq Genocide: Personal Perspectives and Legal Residue”
Michael Newton, acting associate professor of clinical law, was in Kurdish camps as citizens fled to the mountains in 1991 amongst the destruction of villages by Saddam Hussein. Newton will discuss the political and legal salience of the subsequent Iraqi High Tribunal, where he served as an international law adviser to the judges. He will highlight the perspective of the victims in the context of Iraqi society.
7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, in The Ben Schulman Center for Jewish Life
“Deep Evil and Deep Good: The Concept of Human Nature Confronts the Holocaust”
Michael Bess, the Chancellor’s Professor of History, speaks about the sometimes atrocious and sometimes noble actions of Europeans touched by the persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany. He will examine the strategies that have been followed by historians, psychologists, social scientists and philosophers to explain the chasm between those who tried to help and those who took part in the persecution.
7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, in Flynn Auditorium of Vanderbilt Law School
“Children of Hitler’s War”
Nicholas Stargardt, a fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford, discusses the role of children under Nazi Germany rule. He is the author of Witnesses of War: Children’s Lives under the Nazis.
7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5, in 103 Wilson Hall
“The Years of Extermination: An Integrated History of the Holocaust”
Saul Friedländer, holder of the 1939 Club Chair at the University of California, Los Angeles, says he “will argue for an essential need to integrate the fate of individuals, both Jews and non-Jews alike, within the general history of the Holocaust.” Friedländer is the author of Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945: The Years of Extermination.
6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, in 126 Wilson Hall
“The Armenian Genocide”
Andrew Goldberg directed and produced this one-hour documentary about the first genocide of the 20th century, when more than a million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks in 1915. The film will be followed by a 7 p.m. reception in the lobby of Wilson Hall, and then a 7:35 p.m. lecture by Peter Balakian on “The Transmission of Trauma Across Generations: Writing a Memoir about Growing Up in the Suburbs and the Armenian Genocide.”
Selected events will be recorded and posted as podcasts to VUCast, the website of Vanderbilt News Service, at

The Vanderbilt University Holocaust Lecture Series was started in 1977 by Beverly Asbury, the university chaplain.

Media Contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS

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