We at the Center spent October finalizing preparations for our upcoming international conference, “New Perspectives on Kristallnacht: After 80 Years, the Nazi Pogrom in Global Comparison,” which is now just days away. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to browse the program and register for the conference below. If you can't join us in person at the conference, we invite you to tune into the conference livestream. We'll be sending you more information about how to watch the livestream separately.

October was a busy month for lectures, as we welcomed guest speaker Geoffrey Robinson (UCLA) for a talk on his book about the history of the Indonesian killings of 1965-66. The Center also co-sponsored, with the USC Max Kade Institute, a lecture by Martina Kessel (University of Bielefeld, Germany) on laughter and violence in Nazi Germany. You can read more about their lectures below. We also cosponsored the USC Department of Slavic Languages and Literature’s third annual film conference, “Memory through the Screen: Polish Cinema and WWII,” which featured film screenings and talks on the tension between the ways in which World War II is remembered by Jews and non-Jews in Poland. 

Next month we will conclude our fall semester lecture series with a talk by our 2017-2018 Center Research Fellow Jean-Marc Dreyfus (University of Manchester, UK), who will present the results of his research in the Visual History Archive on the fate of human remains during and after the Holocaust. 

This month we welcomed the Center’s first postdoctoral digital scholar Gabór M. Tóth, who is joining us after completing a yearlong dual fellowship at the Yale University Digital Humanities Lab and the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. Gabór will be in residence until July 2019 and will present on his time at the Center in a public lecture next spring. Read more about Gabór’s research below. 

We’re excited to announce the launch of our annual competition for the Center’s PhD candidate fellowships, available to advanced-standing PhD candidates from any discipline and anywhere in the world for dissertation research focused on testimony from the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive and other USC resources. Read more about the opportunity below, and please circulate it widely. 

I look forward to attending the annual Lessons and Legacies conference in St. Louis next month, where we will conduct outreach for the Visual History Archive and where I will present on my research on Jewish reactions to Nazi persecution in the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia. 

Finally, as the recent events in Pittsburgh so painfully illustrate, scholarly research into the dynamics and rhetoric of bigotry and intolerance remains vital. The Center's research focus on resistance to actions and ideologies of racist violence feels as urgent and important as ever. As our activities continue throughout the rest of the fall and spring, we eagerly invite your participation and thank you for your continued support.

Wolf Gruner

Founding Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research
Professor of History and Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies


International Conference “New Perspectives on Kristallnacht: After 80 Years, the Nazi Pogrom in Global Comparison”  

The 2018 international conference, “New Perspectives on Kristallnacht: After 80 Years, the Nazi Pogrom in Global Comparison” will be held November 5-7, 2018 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Villa Aurora in Pacific Palisades. The conference is co-organized by the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research and the USC Casden Institute for the Study of the Jewish Role in American Life. The conference is presented in cooperation with the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington D.C. and the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University Berlin, Germany. 

Scholars from across the United States, Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom will convene at the conference representing a wide variety of disciplines, including history, political science, Jewish studies, French and literature. The talks not only offer new research on the pogrom itself, but also groundbreaking research about the event’s reverberations around the world amongst journalists, diplomats, Jewish organizations, and Jewish communities. Presenters will also explore global comparisons to Kristallnacht, from which we may glean valuable insights about pogroms more broadly.  

To read the program and to learn more about the distinguished speakers, visit the conference website here

Conference registration is now open. Click here to register. 



Center Postdoctoral Research Fellow Gabór M. Tóth (Oxford University) begins his research on survivors’ experiences of Nazi persecution 

Gabór Tóth, the 2018-2019 Center Postdoctoral Research Fellow, began his residency at the Center this month. 

Gabór will be in residence at the Center for the rest of the academic year in order to work on a monograph about the commonalities and differences underlying survivors’ experiences of Nazi persecution. He will also continue the development of an exploratory tool, a digital transcript reader, which he produced in conjunction with the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies and Yale Library’s Digital Humanities Lab last year. The digital transcript reader aims to “enhance the exploration of hidden connections between testimonies, overlapping and unique survivor experiences, and suppressed memories” in almost 3,000 transcripts of survivor interviews from the Visual History Archive, the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He will conclude his residency with a public lecture next spring.

Read more about Gabór here.



“American Dreams: Jewish Refugees and their Chinese Neighbors in Post-World War II Shanghai” 
Kimberly Cheng (PhD candidate, New York University)

Kimberly Cheng, a doctoral candidate in the Joint PhD Program in Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History at NYU and the Center’s 2018-2019 Breslauer, Rutman & Anderson Research Fellow, concluded her residency at the Center with a public campus lecture. 

In her lecture, she discussed the impact of the presence of American troops in postwar Shanghai on Jewish daily life, examined the identity, attitudes and behavior of Jewish refugees in Shanghai, and provided examples of Jewish refugees’ interactions with their Chinese neighbors in the city. Her research in the Visual History Archive was motivated by a desire to close the gap between the fields of Holocaust studies and East Asian studies by bringing the Jewish and Chinese experiences of the postwar period together. During her residency, she discovered many interviews of Jewish immigrants from Poland to Shanghai, which enabled her to add this specific group to the German speaking Jewish immigrants as objects of her study. 

Read more about Kimberly here

Watch the lecture and read a summary here.


“The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66”
Geoffrey Robinson (University of California, Los Angeles)

In this lecture, Professor Geoffrey Robinson discussed his most recent book, The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66. He began his lecture by stating that the Indonesian mass killings of 1965-66 are probably the least recognized instance of mass killing of the 20th century, despite the fact that more than 500,000 Indonesians were killed and another one million detained. He questioned why even today, more than a half century later, there is no governmental recognition of the killings or official demands for the investigation and persecution of its perpetrators. By examining the Indonesian case, Professor Robinson aimed to shed light on some of the conditions that enable the occurrence of mass killing, as well as the reasons why some mass killings are remembered while others are forgotten. 

Watch the lecture and read a summary here


“Performing Germanness: Laughter and Violence in Nazi Germany”
Martina Kessel (University of Bielefeld, Germany)

In this lecture, the cultural historian Martina Kessel examined the meaning and role of humor as an identity practice in Germany during the time of National Socialism in Germany. She provided a few examples of contemporary German anti-Jewish expressions of humor, including carnivals and jokes, to explore the theory that non-Jewish Germans disguised violence as 'art' to justify their failure to comply with international or humanitarian beliefs.

This lecture was part of the Gerda Henkel Lecture Series, which brings German historians to the West Coast to present their research and engage in dialogue with their colleagues in the US and Canada. The lecture was organized by the Max Kade Institute for Austrian-German-Swiss Studies and co-sponsored by the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research.

Watch a video recording of the lecture here.  


In October, Professor Gruner participated in a panel discussion of the film The City Without Jews at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Los Angeles. Associate Director Martha Stroud gave a VHA introduction to guest speaker Geoffrey Robinson and to representatives from the Japanese American National Museum, while VHA Program Coordinator Badema Pitic introduced visitors from the Gomidas Institute and the Swedish History Museum to the origins and research applications of the Visual History Archive. 

In November, Wolf Gruner and Martha Stroud will travel to St. Louis, Missouri for the Lessons and Legacies XV conference, where Professor Gruner will deliver a paper on Jewish reactions to Nazi persecution in the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia. The Center will offer an ongoing exhibition to attendees about the Visual History Archive for the course of the international conference. Later in the month, Badema Pitic will present a paper on her research on genocide commemoration through music in Bosnia at the USC conference Reconstructing National Identity Post-Conflict

Upcoming Events

November 5-7, 2018 at USC

International conference "New Perspectives on Kristallnacht: After 80 Years, the Nazi Pogrom in Global Comparison"

November 13, 2018 (USC, Social Sciences Building 250)
Public lecture by 2018-2019 Center Research Fellow Jean-Marc Dreyfus (University of Manchester): "Corpses of the Holocaust" 

Spring calendar to be announced in next month’s newsletter. 

Librarian's Corner

(As part of our Librarian’s Corner Series, we hope to introduce librarians and researchers elsewhere to the wealth and breadth of our Visual History Archive collections. In this issue of our newsletter, we focus on the Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda collection.)

In October 2018, the Kigali Genocide Memorial became the first full Visual History Archive access site in Africa. In celebration of this milestone, this month, we are featuring the first non-Holocaust collection to be added to the Visual History Archive: the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The genocide took place between April and July of 1994, during the Rwandan Civil War. During this time, around 800,000 mostly Tutsi women, men, and children and moderate Hutu were killed in the most brutal ways by the Hutu extremists.

In 2008, the USC Shoah Foundation started a partnership with local Rwandan organization IBUKA, which represented survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, to assist in the collection of Rwandan survivor testimonies. As a result of this partnership, and the ensuing collaboration with Aegis Trust at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the first 65 testimonies of survivors and rescuers from the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi genocide were integrated into the Visual History Archive in April 2013. The USC Shoah Foundation filmed 15 of these 65 testimonies in the United States. Today, this collection includes 86 testimonies, the last of which were added into the VHA in August 2018. All 86 testimonies are indexed, and a number of them contain English captions.

Click here to access the full collection. 25 testimonies from the collection are currently available in VHAOnline.


VHA Book Spotlight

In this feature, we highlight published research based on the testimonies in the Visual History Archive. 

Shannon L. Fogg (Missouri University of Science and Technology)

Looting, Restitution, and Reconstructing Jewish Lives in France, 1942-1947

In her most recent book, historian Shannon L. Fogg explores the lives of French Jews who experienced expropriation in wartime France, and were then forced to deal with the processes of restitution and the rebuilding of their lives in the aftermath of World War II. By tracing the impact of the economic Aryanization in France on individuals, Fogg offers a social history of the immediate postwar period during which Jewish survivors struggled with restoring their citizenship and property rights. In addition to focusing on Jews’ everyday lives at the time and the ways in which they navigated their complex relationships with non-Jewish neighbors, acquaintances, and the government (primarily the Restitution Services and the related bureaucracy), Fogg also explores the gendered aspect of the rebuilding process. She investigates the way non-Jewish French citizens experienced the restitution of their property, as well as the effects of restitution on French society, politics, and the memory of the war. The book's account relies heavily on archival documents, memoirs, and oral histories, including 39 testimonies of French Jews from the Visual History Archive.   



Call for Papers

2019-2020 Research Fellowships for PhD Candidates: 
Margee and Douglas Greenberg Research Fellowship
Robert J. Katz Research Fellowship in Genocide Studies
Breslauer, Rutman, and Anderson Research Fellowship

The USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research invites applications for its three research fellowships for advanced-standing PhD candidates. Each fellowship provides $4,000 support and will be awarded to an outstanding advanced-standing PhD candidate from any discipline for dissertation research focused on testimony from the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive and other USC resources. Each recipient will be required to spend one month in residence at the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research during the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Deadline for applications is December 15th, 2018. 

For more details, click here.


2020 Interdisciplinary Research Week

The USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research invites proposals for its 2019-2020 Interdisciplinary Research Week that will provide support for an interdisciplinary group of international scholars to develop and discuss a collaborative innovative research project in the field of Holocaust and Genocide Studies using the video testimonies of the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive (VHA) and other related resources at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Each year, the Center hosts an interdisciplinary team of scholars from different universities and countries and/or continents for one week so that they can meet in person and work together intensively to address a particular challenge within the field of genocide studies and start creating or keep advancing a cooperative research project. The week spent at the Center allows researchers to prepare the groundwork for future cooperative research grant applications.

The Center for Advanced Genocide Research will cover travel costs and accommodation for a team of five or six scholars for up to seven days and will provide them with expert staff assistance for their research as well as a dedicated workspace at the USC Shoah Foundation during the stay. 

Deadline for applications is November 15, 2018. To view the call for applications and learn more, click here


Comparative Lenses: Video Testimonies of Survivors and Eyewitnesses on Genocide and Mass Violence

International Conference at the American University of Paris, June 6-7, 2019


The George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention at the American University of Paris, Yahad-In Unum, the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research, and AGBU Nubar Library announce the international conference “Comparative Lenses: Video Testimonies of Survivors and Eyewitnesses on Genocide and Mass Violence” to be held June 6-7, 2019 in Paris, France. The goal of this conference is to deepen our understanding of video testimonies documenting genocide and mass violence by exploring the following questions, among others. (To see the full list of questions, consult the call for papers.)

What are the challenges of collecting testimonies on genocide and mass violence? To what extent have technological advances altered the recording and subsequent exploitation of video testimonies? How has collecting video testimonies on genocide and mass violence changed the categorization and scope of the witnesses and their narratives about genocide and mass violence?  The Visual History Archive, due to its wide accessibility and enormous scope, is prominent among the corpus of Holocaust testimonies, but to what extent is it also a relevant source for the study of the other crimes that it documents?

The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2018.

To view the call for papers, click here