Institute News

Reconstructing the Holocaust from Below

Omer Bartov, leading authority on genocide, to deliver special public lecture for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute.

Read USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences story about the lecture, "Looking Back to Move Forward"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Talia Cohen
Phone:  213.740.6036
Fax:  213.740.6044
Email:  taliacoh@college.usc.edu

LOS ANGELES, CA—(March 15, 2010)—Omer Bartov, the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History, Professor of History, and Professor of German Studies at Brown University, will give a public lecture at USC entitled Testimonies as Historical Evidence:  Reconstructing the Holocaust from Below.  The lecture, which will be hosted by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education and the USC School of Cinematic Arts, will take place on March 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the George Lucas Instructional Building (SCA 108).

Professor Bartov will discuss the use of testimonies as crucial documents in the reconstruction of the Holocaust as a historical event.  The lecture will serve as the keynote address for the Institute’s first International Digital Access, Outreach, and Research Conference.

“Historians have often eschewed testimonies as historical documents on the assumption that they were often given long after the event and had a highly subjective character; scholars have relied largely on official documents produced by the perpetrators instead,” Professor Bartov said.  “This has created a skewed picture of the Holocaust by privileging the perspective of those who carried out the genocide and obscuring the point of view of the victims.  By integrating testimonies into the historical record, historians will not only be able to ‘save’ the experience of the victims, but also to reconstruct events that were either distorted in perpetrators’ accounts or absent from them altogether.”

Professor Bartov has a vast knowledge of the Holocaust and is considered one of the world's leading authorities on the subject of genocide.  He is the author of seven books that deal with Jewish culture as well as the Holocaust, and has edited scholarly anthologies on the Holocaust, genocide, religion, and war crimes.  His most recent book, Erased:  Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine, indicates the new direction of his research on interethnic relations in the borderlands of Eastern Europe.  His interest in the realm of genocide has also translated in his monograph, The “Jew” in Cinema:  From “The Golem” to “Don’t Touch My Holocaust, which examines the recycling of anti-Semitic stereotypes in European, American, and Israeli films.

“Omer Bartov is not only an expert on the Holocaust, he is also an authority on the meaning, importance, and place of testimony as historical evidence,” said Stephen Smith, Institute Executive Director.  “His lecture will be a rare and valuable learning opportunity for anyone who is interested in developing a greater understanding of the Holocaust and a deeper appreciation for the preserved memories of those who survived it.”

Bartov’s lecture is open to the public and to members of the media.  For general information or to RSVP, please call 213-740-6001 or e-mail
vhi-reception@college.usc.edu.  For press-related inquiries please contact, Talia Cohen at 213-740-6036 or taliacoh@college.usc.edu.

About the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education

Established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg to collect and preserve the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, the USC Shoah Foundation Institute maintains one of the largest video digital libraries in the world:  nearly 52,000 video testimonies in 32 languages and from 56 countries.  The Institute is part of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California; its mission is to overcome prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry—and the suffering they cause—through the educational use of the Institute’s visual history testimonies.

The Institute works within the University and with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes.  In addition to preserving the testimonies in its archive, the Institute is working with partner organizations to help document the stories of survivors and other witnesses of other genocides.