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The History of the Holocaust and the Politics of Remembrance


The program on the History of the Holocaust and the politics of remembrance included lectures of famous professors from Russia and Israel (Ilya Altman, Kiril Feferman and Arkadi Zeltser) and plenary lectures (Oleg Budnitskii (Russia), Gennady Estraikh (USA)), Museum tours and films discussion (Irina Rebrova (Germany), Denis Viren (Russia), Olga Gershenson (USA)), a lecture-concert (Dmitry Zisl Slepovich, USA), theatre show (the play "the Black book of Esther" (dir. E. Berkowitz) was kindly provided by the Russian Jewish Congress).

School website

Part of the lectures and events of the cultural program in the programs of the two streams were open to everyone. As well as the online quest "Flame under the ashes. From the History of the Holocaust" (The project is implemented using a grant from the President of the Russian Federation for the development of civil society, provided by the Presidential Grants Fund). In a playful way, 80 participants in 13 teams (both from among the school's students and people who signed up for the quest on the site) guessed riddles based on facts related to one of the most tragic pages in world history – the Catastrophe of European Jewry. We are especially pleased that the tenth graders from school No. 6 from the distant city Nefteyugansk together with their history teacher were able to take part in the quest!

A separate success of the school and an important final event was the round table "What should we do with memory? Holocaust Memorialization and the Challenges of Everyday Life " (moderators Ilya Lensky (Latvia) and Svetlana Bardina (Russia), speakers: Irina Rebrova, Olga Kartashova (USA), Chaim Sokol (Russia)). The participants discussed the following questions: are monuments places of memory, places of reminder or places of forgetting? Can it be that we put up monuments so that we have an official right outside of these objects not to remember and not to be interested, displacing the trauma? Who is the recipient of the memorial object? Who has more "rights" to this place: the one who comes specifically and shares the memory, or the one who lives here? How much should the memory be tangible and concrete? Are digital memorial projects an attempt to radically break out of the "people" vs. "place" dichotomy? Should there be an ethics of interaction with memorial objects and places of memory? If we accept the view that memory is a kind of dialogue between the living and the dead, can we consider, for example, photographing newlyweds at the Eternal Flame and taking selfies against the background of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe as just two forms of such a trusting dialogue?

Feedback from participants:

Polina Banman (Moscow, Russia): I am overwhelmed by the content of the lectures, the erudition of the lecturers, their sense of humor, their love for what they do, the content of Irina Rebrova's exhibition, the films that Denis Viren showed, especially "Birth Certificate," the scale of what is being done to preserve the memory of the Holocaust. I really liked the lectures of Kirill Feferman. Very informative, with examples, with clear and understandable examples, and even sometimes with humor. An interesting lecture was about the speeches of Hitler, for example, who, as it turned out, wrote his own speeches. The classification of sources, described by I. Altman, will be extremely useful in further work. I haven't read it yet, but I will definitely use his articles on teaching the history of the Holocaust. A. Seltzer's lectures are a storehouse of information about literary sources, which is necessary for my research on the literature of the Holocaust. I am grateful to him for recommending the book Gulag Literature and the Literature of Nazi Camps: An Intercontextual Reading l. Toker. All three lecturers answered the questions in the chat very seriously, without pretending that they were some stupid questions, that, they say, this is something you need to know. For this, thank them very much.




The history of the Holocaust and the politics of remembrance

On 31 January – 5 February 2021, Sefer Center will hold a Winter school on Jewish studies (in Zoom format), in cooperation with the International Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for Slavic-Jewish studies the Institute of Slavic studies, supported by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Charity Foundation of Vladimir Potanin and the Claims Conference.

The School program includes 3 main mini-courses (consisting of 4 lectures):

The Holocaust on the territory of the USSR: sources, features, memory


Ilya Altman, PhD., professor of the Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH), Head of the master's program" The politics of memory: the history of the holocaust and genocides» of the faculty of International Relations of RSUH

In the year of the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War and the total extermination of the Jews of Europe, as well as the 75th anniversary of the verdict of the International Nuremberg Tribunal, the question of civilian casualties in the occupied territory of the USSR has become particularly acute in Russia. Recently, the term "genocide of the Soviet people" has been legally enshrined in the Russian Federation. Were Jews excluded from the "peaceful Soviet citizens"? How to identify, organize and analyze documents about the Holocaust? What secrets do Russian and foreign archives still hide? Refugees and their rescuers. Features of the Holocaust in the occupied territory of the USSR in comparison with other countries and categories of victims of Nazism. How has the policy of Holocaust remembrance changed in modern Russia?

These are the issues that will be addressed in the proposed mini-course.


The Holocaust, the Soviet politics of memory and the Jews


Dr. Arkady Zeltser, Director of the Moshe Mirilashvili Center for the Study of the History of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

The course will examine the Soviet policy of war remembrance and its impact on attitudes to the Holocaust in the war and post-war years. The course's lectures will examine the reaction of Soviet Jews to the traumatic events of the Holocaust, its impact on Jewish self-identification, and the problems of Jewish memorial initiatives. In addition, the issue of the use of Soviet ideological concepts by the creative intelligentsia for the implementation of their own alternative tasks will be analyzed.


The Holocaust: A Jewish and Non-Jewish Perspective

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Dr. Kirill Feferman, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Jewish History, Director, Center for Holocaust Studies, Ariel University, Israel

The course will cover some general issues of the history of the Holocaust in the context of European and Jewish history.


The school will also include plenary lectures, round tables and discussions, a cultural program and a quest.

Students, postgraduates and young teachers (up to 45 years old) whose interests include Jewish history and culture, and the history of the Holocaust are invited to participate in the winter school.

Applications for participation in the school (online questionnaire in Russian) are accepted until January 14, 2021.

Notifications about the results of the competitive selection for the winter school will be sent out until January 20, 2021.

See you at school!

Anna Shaevich, program director

Irina Kopchenova, coordinator of educational programs