Lessons & Legacies Convenes 200 Scholars of the Holocaust, Nov. 2-5

More than 200 scholars from around the world will gather at Claremont McKenna College Nov. 2-5 to discuss, debate, and delve into the history and contemporary implications of the Holocaust during the ninth biennial Lessons and Legacies Conference on the Holocaust.

Jointly sponsored by the Holocaust Education Foundation, Skokie, Ill., and Claremont McKenna’s Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights, the conference will focus on the theme of Memory, History, and Responsibility: Reassessments of the Holocaust, Implications for the Future.

Lessons and Legacies, among the largest such gatherings in the world, brings together scholars on the cutting edge of research on the Holocaust from diverse fields including history, literature, philosophy, religious studies, and political science. Sessions will include presentations of papers, workshops to support teaching, and roundtable discussions.

The conference comes at a critical juncture as nations and individuals struggle to come to grips with ongoing conflicts such as the conflict in Darfur, says John Roth, the Edward J. Sexton Professor of Philosophy and director of The Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights. “Because of what’s happening in the world, people are paying more attention to the Holocaust as well as to larger issues of genocide,” says Roth.

UCLA professor Saul Friedlender will deliver the conference’s keynote address Nov. 2. Friedlender, who holds the 1939 Club Chair in Holocaust Studies, is the author of Nazi Germany and the Jews, a recently completed two-volume history of the Holocaust. His other works include Reflections of Nazism (1984), Probing the Limits of Representation (1992), and Pius XII and the Third Reich (1965). His keynote address, A Plea for an Integrated History of the Holocaust, will analyze the difficulty and importance of integrating all sides of the Holocaust into historical texts. Friedlender survived the Holocaust as a Jewish child hidden among Gentiles, but his parents perished in Auschwitz. His teaching chair is funded by the 1939 Club, a Los Angeles organization comprised of Polish survivors of the Holocaust.

The horror of the Holocaust and the struggle to understand its magnitude, historical roots, and aftermath have called many scholars to research in the “relatively young field” of Holocaust Studies, says Roth. Lessons and Legacies is a showcase for the best work in this area, including more than 70 presentations and panel discussions. Topics include:

Relationships between Hollywood, the film industry, and the Holocaust;

The process of interviewing Holocaust survivors;

New research on the Catholic Church and the Holocaust;

A discussion of gender and the Holocaust.

On Saturday night, the plenary session will feature scenes from the play Lemkin’s House, presented by Catherine Filloux, John Daggett, and Laura Flanagan. The play, which Roth describes as “using drama as a way of calling attention to genocide,” considers the experience of Raphael Lemkin in the afterlife. Lemkin is the Jewish lawyer who coined the term genocide and worked to criminalize that atrocity after his parents died in the Holocaust. The play, which The New York Times called a “call to action,” depicts Lemkin’s anguish over post-Holocaust genocides in Rwanda and elsewhere.