Institute News

Teaching the Holocaust in Latin America

The Holocaust is not widely taught in Latin America. Few books on the subject are available in Spanish, and university classes that do touch on the history are sometimes outdated.

With an eye toward spreading awareness, the Memory and Tolerance Museum in Mexico City last month brought in Wolf Gruner – founding director of USC Shoah Foundation’s Center for Advanced Genocide Research – to co-lead a seminar on Holocaust and genocide studies to 25 Latin American university professors.

It is hoped that those scholars will act as multipliers by creating new courses, making revisions to current classes and sharing what they’ve learned with colleagues.

The weeklong course in mid-June also drew connections between the Holocaust and atrocities that have occurred on Latin American soil. Gruner discussed the mass violence that targeted indigenous people in Bolivia and Argentina during the 19th century. He has authored a book on the topic.

The other co-leader – Victoria Sanford, an expert on the Guatemalan genocide against indigenous Mayans of the early 1980s – spoke about that historic event, as well as the country’s ongoing efforts to hold perpetrators accountable.

One day featured a conversation between Gruner and a Holocaust survivor -- Bronislaw Zajbert -- who immigrated to Mexico after enduring the Lodz ghetto and a labor camp during World War II. Before the interview, Gruner played parts of Zajbert’s testimony in USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.