Upcoming Events

Soviet Jewish Experience during the Holocaust

Daniel Newman, Ph.D. Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

February 10, 2015 @ 6:30pm; Mandel Atrium

The HolocaustThis talk discusses the experiences of Jews living inside the borders of the Soviet Union at the beginning of the German invasion on June 22, 1941, through the Red Army’s victory, and to the divisiveness over the post-war memory of the events of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. The scope of this subject is expansive in terms of the physical territory covered, the destruction of human life wrought by a variety of perpetrators, and the political factors affecting the remembrance of the Holocaust. Though exact figures will likely never be determined, leading historians currently believe that between 1.5 and close to 3 million Soviet Jews lost their lives during the occupation. Regrettably, the memory of their destruction has proven a contentious issue throughout the Soviet period and to the present day, with various political considerations and (some would argue) anti-Semitic agendas relegating the story of the Jews during the Holocaust as a byline at best, and completely absent from the historical record at worst. Today’s talk will provide an overview of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union and explain why it is so important that we understand and continue to study this horrific tragedy both in the context of Jewish history and in assessing the state of Jewry in the contemporary space of the former Soviet Union.



Award-winning Documentary Screening and Conversation with the Film Director Michael Drob

February 11, 2015 @ 6:45pm; Mandel Center for Humanities (G03)

Award-winning Documentary Screening and Conversation with the Film Director Michael Drob

StatelessEvents in Stateless take place during the politically charged climate of the late 1980’s. At that time the USSR was home to the largest population of Jews in Europe. Under pressure from various political sources, including that of U.S. Jewry, the Soviet government opened the borders and allowed its Jewish population to leave the country. This time the migrants would have the freedom to choose their destination, but those who hoped to make the United States their home now had to prove “a reasonable fear of persecution.” For those born into a climate where discrimination was the norm, this was difficult and without any information or a political voice, they were denied refugee status in ever increasing numbers. This left thousands stranded in Italy -- Stateless. This documentary portrays the experience through the eyes of émigrés in the context of politics and Jewish community.


The Phantom Holocaust of Soviet Cinema

Olga Gershenson, University of Massachusetts Amherst

April 13, 2015 @ 6:30pm; Mandel Atrium

Olga GershensonThe Soviet Union made an entire canon of films between the 1930s and the late 1980s about the Holocaust and Nazi anti-semitism. Mostly forgotten or banned, and unknown until recently, they attest to how a totalitarian regime chose to remember - or forget - the crimes and catastrophe of the extermination of the Jews.

Focusing on work by both celebrated and unknown Soviet directors and screenwriters, Olga Gershenson has written The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe, the first book about all Soviet narrative films dealing with the Holocaust from 1938 to 1991. In addition to studying the completed films, Gershenson analyses the projects that were banned at various stages of production. The book draws on archival research and in-depth interviews to tell the sometimes tragic and sometimes triumphant stories of filmmakers who found authentic ways to represent the Holocaust in the face of official silencing. By uncovering little known works, Gershenson makes a significant contribution to the international Holocaust filmography. A companion website to the book, including film clips, is available at www.phantomholocaust.org. Olga Gershenson will discuss the films and show clips including rare and unknown films.