CSULB Jewish Studies Program Hosts Lecture by Director of Curatorial Affairs for the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

February 24, 2011

JSP Holocaust Speaker

On February 13, the Jewish Studies Program at California State University, Long Beach hosted a talk by Scott Miller, the Director of Curatorial Affairs for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). Miller addressed an overflow crowd at the Karl Anatol Center as he explained the USHMM’s efforts to collect testimonies from non-Jewish witnesses of Nazi atrocities during World War II.

The USHMM has already recorded over 1,300 separate oral histories from witnesses in 15 countries. These accounts fill in gaps by giving researchers and the general public greater insight into what ordinary people saw and did. The people interviewed run the gamut from passive witnesses, to collaborators, to outright perpetrators.

Miller screened excerpts from the testimonies collected by the USHMM, including an interview with a former Polish train conductor who drove the cattle cars into Treblinka station, two elderly sisters whose home overlooked a mass killing site at Trawniki, and a Lithuanian man who took part in mass murder. In a chillingly dispassionate manner, he described how he would shoot parents before murdering their children.

This talk marks the beginning of a collaborative effort between the CSULB Jewish Studies Program and the USHMM. Recently, the USHMM designated CSULB a participating campus in its HITE (Holocaust Institute for Teacher Educators) and Belfer First Step programs. The former involves bringing methodology professors from CSULB to Washington, D.C. for training in Holocaust pedagogy; while the latter is an on-campus one-day workshop working with pre-service teachers on how to teach the Holocaust in schools. This program of pre-service teacher education complements CSULB’s existing annual teacher training workshop on the Holocaust, which works with existing teachers.

The Jewish Studies Program was established in 1998, expanded in 2002 to include both a major and a minor, and in 2006 the program launched CSULB’s first Jewish Studies Scholarship. Today, under the leadership of Dr. Jeffrey Blutinger, the Barbara and Ray Alpert Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, the program is widely recognized for its dedication to advancing interdisciplinary analysis of Jewish history, religion, thought, culture, and literature. The program also works with many Jewish organizations, such as the Long Beach Jewish Film Festival, local synagogues, and other religious and cultural organizations. For further information on how to give to the Jewish Studies Program, please contact Howie Fitzgerald at 562/985-1619 or hfitzger@csulb.edu.