The first 50-state survey of Holocaust knowledge among millennials and Generation Z found that many don’t know even the most basic facts about the genocide that occurred during World War II. Even worse: More than 15% of all respondents in nine states believe Jews caused the Holocaust.
“Survivors lost their families, friends, homes and communities,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which published the survey in September. “We cannot deny their history.”
To refocus discussion about the Holocaust, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Penn State Behrend has launched a new lecture series that will feature leading researchers in the field of Holocaust studies. The programs, which began Feb. 22, are open to the public at no cost.
Due to restrictions on in-person gatherings, the talks will be hosted on Zoom.
“Our hope is that these discussions lead students and others who participate to a deeper, fact-based understanding of the history of the Holocaust,” said Amy Carney, associate professor of history at Penn State Behrend. “That knowledge is truly important, especially given the results of the survey by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims.”
The Holocaust Academic Speaker Series will include four events:
- Feb. 22: George Mastroianni, professor emeritus of psychology at the U.S. Air Force Academy and a lecturer in psychology at Penn State World Campus, will discuss “Psychology and the Holocaust” beginning at 7 p.m. He will provide an overview of how psychologists have studied the Holocaust – a discussion designed in part for Behrend students who hope to earn the Trauma Studies certificate in psychology. Mastroianni’s talk can be accessed at https://psu.zoom.us/j/91705490792, using the passcode 887200.
- March 8: Wendy Lower, professor of history at Claremont McKenna College, will discuss “Atrocity Photography and the Holocaust” beginning at 4 p.m. Her talk is based on her most recent book, “The Ravine: A Family, A Photograph, A Holocaust Massacre Revealed.” It can be accessed at https://psu.zoom.us/j/97267978215, using the passcode 887200.
- March 18: Hilary Earl, professor of history at Nipissing University, will discuss the reintegration of SS-Einsatzgruppen commander Martin Sandberger. He was sentenced to death for war crimes but had the sentence commuted due to pressure from U.S. Sen. William Langer, who believed the American legal tradition protected all but the highest-placed SS officers. Earl’s talk, which begins at 4 p.m., can be accessed at https://psu.zoom.us/j/99051705261, using the passcode 887200.
- March 25: Marion Kaplan, professor of history at New York University, will discuss “Women’s History and the Holocaust: A Journey,” beginning at 12:30 p.m. Her talk, which will be part of the Penn State Behrend Gender Conference, can be accessed at https://psu.zoom.us/j/93220453235, using the passcode 887200.
The Holocaust Academic Speaker Series is supported in part by the Mary Behrend Cultural Fund and the Gannon University School of Public Service and Global Affairs. To learn more about the series, contact Carney at [email protected].