Welcome to our blog

This is the blog of the Newcastle-based Research Group on Genocide and Mass Violence. For more about the group, click here. This post will always remain at the top; please scroll down  for the nost recent posts.

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Book Launch: If This is a Woman (Wiener Library)

Sarah Helm will be coming to the Wiener Library to discuss her book If this is a Woman: Inside Ravensbruck: Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women.  For decades the story of Ravensbrück was hidden behind the Iron Curtain and today is still relatively little known. Using testimony unearthed since the end of the Cold War, and interviews with survivors who have never spoken before, Helm has ventured into the heart of the camp, demonstrating for the reader in riveting detail how easily and quickly the unthinkable horror evolved.  Admission to this event is free but booking is essential as space is limited.

  • Contact email: mnicholson@wienerlibrary.co.uk
  • Venue: Wiener Library
  • Wed 11 Feb 2015  Time: 6.30pm-8pm
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Film Screening: Bent (Weiner Library)

Sarah Helm will be coming to the Wiener Library to discuss her book If this is a Woman: Inside Ravensbruck: Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women.  For decades the story of Ravensbrück was hidden behind the Iron Curtain and today is still relatively little known. Using testimony unearthed since the end of the Cold War, and interviews with survivors who have never spoken before, Helm has ventured into the heart of the camp, demonstrating for the reader in riveting detail how easily and quickly the unthinkable horror evolved.  Admission to this event is free but booking is essential as space is limited.

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From Polish Resistance Herald to Humanity’s Hero: Jan Karski’s Reports on the Holocaust to the World

a lecture by Dr Beate Müller (Newcastle University)

Jan Karski (1914-2000) was a Polish Catholic diplomat who acted as courier for the wartime Polish Government-in-Exile. Karski was smuggled into the Warsaw ghetto and into a concentration camp, where he became an eye-witness of the Nazi genocide. He reported on the situation in Poland and on the fate of Polish Jews, both to Polish politicians in France (1940), as well as to government leaders in London and Washington (1942/43).

After publishing a book about his mission as early as 1944 (Story of a Secret State), Karski maintained a long silence. But since the 1980s, Karski repeatedly testified to his wartime activities and experiences; he received numerous awards and became a celebrity among the ‘righteous’. The Polish government even declared 2014 the Jan Karski Year.

This talk will introduce the audience to Karski’s reports and will show how Karski’s own representations of his wartime mission changed over time, and how other people’s engagements with Karski’s work and his legacy developed.

Date: Wednesday 21 January 2015 6.15pm

Venue: Bewick Hall, City Library, Newcastle upon Tyne

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‘The Holocaust Memorial Museum: Sacred Secular Space’ Dr Avril Alba, University of Sydney

Northumbria University: Thursday 22 January, 3pm, Sutherland Building Boardroom 1

Avril Alba teaches and researches in the areas of Holocaust and modern Jewish history. Prior to jointing the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies at the University of Sydney in 2012, Avril worked as Education Director at the Sydney Jewish Museum where she also curated the permanent exhibition Culture and Continuity. She is currently the lead consulting curator for the redevelopment of the museum’s permanent Holocaust exhibition. Her monograph, The Holocaust Memorial Museum: Sacred Secular Space, will be published in 2015 by Palgrave Macmillan. In this heritage seminar, Avril will be talking about the intersection between her research and curatorial practice.

All welcome. Please RSVP  to helen.williams@northumbria.ac.uk

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Wiener Library: Debate and Social Media discussion, “How useful is social media for keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive?”

Wed 28 Jan 2015
Time: 6pm – 7pm

If you’re aged 16-25 we’re inviting you to attend our annual social media debate at the Library on Wednesday 28 January 2015. As part of our Holocaust Memorial Day event programme, the debate is hosted by the Wiener Library’s Young Volunteers and we will be discussing the following question:   How useful is social media for keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive?  We’ll be live-tweeting the discussion using the hashtag #WLdebate, so join in the discussion online. We’ll be discussing and responding to the tweets we receive during the debate.  Refreshments will be served.  Free but limited places so please email kjackson@wienerlibrary.co.uk to register.

Venue of event: The Wiener Library
Email: kjackson@wienerlibrary.co.uk
Website Address: http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/Whats-On?item=171

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Wiener Library: Talk by Dame Stephanie Shirley ‘Let IT Go’

Mon 26 Jan 2015

Time: 6.30pm-8pm

Dame Stephanie Shirley will be delivering a special talk at The Wiener Library in the week of Holocaust Memorial Day. Dame Stephanie will discuss in particular the story of her life and her experience as a child refugee from Nazism. She has recently published an autobiography Let IT Go: The Story of an Entrepreneur Turned Ardent Philanthropist. The book goes back to her childhood memories of being sent away at the age of five to escape the Nazis, on one of the last Kindertransport trains out of Europe.  As a young refugee, Stephanie Shirley found love and acceptance with an English foster family, and vowed that she would repay them by living ‘a life worth saving’. Dame Stephanie’s subsequent career – which included breaking through barriers of sexism in the workplace to build a leading software company, and providing national leadership in championing charitable giving – was in many ways defined by these childhood experiences.  Dame Stephanie’s talk at The Wiener Library will tell a moving and uplifting life story of survival and success that will provide valuable inspiration as we enter the 70th anniversary year of the liberation of the Nazi camps and ghettos.  Attendance at this event is free but booking is essential as space is limited.

Email: mnicholson@wienerlibrary.co.uk
Website Address: http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/Whats-On?item=175
Venue of event: The Wiener Library

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Wiener Library Film Screening: Night Will Fall

Date: Wed 21 Jan 2015
Time: 6.30pm-8.30pm

This special screening of Night Will Fall will be introduced by the film’s acclaimed Director Andre Singer and Executive Producer Richard Melman. Night Will Fall tells the story of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration camps, which will be widely commemorated across the world in this 70th anniversary year. Using remarkable archive footage and testimony from both survivors and liberators, it tells of the efforts made to document the almost unbelievable scenes that the Allies encountered in 1945.  The film explores how a team of top filmmakers, including Sidney Bernstein, Richard Crossman and Alfred Hitchcock, came together to make a film to provide undeniable evidence of what the Allies found, but the film was stopped in its tracks by the British Government and only now, 70 years on, has it been completed.  Andre Singer has been a documentary filmmaker for over forty years. He ran the BBC Documentary Department’s Independent Unit in the 1990s where he founded the award-winning documentary strand Fine Cut (now Storyville). Andre was the Executive Prodcuer of the 2014 BAFTA-award winning and Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing.  Richard Melman became a Producer and Director making films for the BBC, Channel 4 and other major broadcasters, inclduing the BAFTA nominated series ‘Cold War’ commissioned by Ted Turner for CNN. He was one of the instigators and then Channel Director for Artsworld (now Sky Arts) and Channels Director and Head of Programming in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.  Admission is free, but booking is essential due to limited places.

Venue of event: The Wiener Library
Email: mnicholson@wienerlibrary.co.uk
Website Address: http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/Whats-On?item=174

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Wiener Library Photographic Archives Workshop

This workshop has been rescheduled from Friday 7 November.  As part of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s arts programme, we’re delighted to be hosting a workshop on our photographic archives.  Led by our Photo Archivist, Marek Jaros, participants will explore the image collections of the Wiener Library and learn about their preservation, storage and digitisation. Additionally, Marek will lead a discussion on the use of images in Holocaust education as well as explaining issues surrounding access for researchers and publishers.  Free but booking essential due to limited places.

Venue of event: The Wiener Library
Email: mnicholson@wienerlibrary.co.uk

Website Address: http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/Whats-On?item=169

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CFP: Perpetrators. Dynamics, motivations and concepts for participating in mass violence (edited volume)

Timothy Williams & Susanne Buckley-Zistel

Centre for Conflict Studies, University of Marburg, Germany

In recent years, the analysis of genocide, massacres, ethnic cleansing, wartime rape or other forms of mass violence is increasingly focusing on the people who actually committed these acts. Since Christopher Browning’s ground-breaking book Ordinary Men and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s controversial replique in Hitler’s Willing Executioners in the early 1990s, perpetrators have become an important focus of academic research. This is an important, productive development as it is only possible to fully understand the occurrence and dynamics of mass violence in all its forms by focussing on the people who implement genocidal policies, use spaces of opportunity to act within and respond to manipulations and instigations at the macro level. These are the people who endow violence with its physical embodiment and to understand violence, we must understand these men and women. Perpetrators are thus the focus of this edited volume.

In spite of the growing attention to these issues, the majority of previous edited publications focuses on only one case (often the Holocaust for perpetrators of genocide), one disciplinary approach (often social psychology) or one form of violence. The objective of this edited volume is to systematically bring together various disciplinary approaches, theoretical schools, empirical examples and diverse forms of mass violence. By relating these different issues to each other it brings together the wealth of insights available in research on perpetrators in a  truly comparative study.

Against this backdrop, we are looking for contributions which draw on political science, sociology, psychology, history, anthropology, criminology, law or other disciplines to theoretically and empirically discuss the issue of perpetrators. This may include, but must not be limited to, following questions:

–         Who are perpetrators? What constitutes the concept(s) of perpetration?

–         Why do perpetrators perpetrate?

–         What patterns of perpetration can be observed across different forms of violence?

–         How can the role of agency of perpetrators of mass violence be conceptualised? How is it conceptualised by the perpetrators themselves, legal bodies of transitional justice and other actors during and after conflict?

–         What narratives do perpetrators give of mass violence? How do these differ from ‘official’ narratives?

–         What role does gender play for individual perpetrators?

–         How do state-level policies, processes and/or ideas resonate for the actual perpetrators at the individual level?

We invite contributions which address the topic from a theoretical as well as from an empirically  sustained  perspectives  in  order  to  compile  an  original  and  innovative  edited volume. Empirically, we welcome contributions on single cases, comparative studies of few cases, or contributions which use set-theoretic or statistical methods.

Please send your abstract of no longer than 500 words and a biographic note of 100 words to Timothy Williams (timothy.williams@staff.uni-marburg.de) by no later than 31st January 2015.

Contact details:

Timothy Williams, Research Fellow
Susanne Buckley-Zistel, Professor for Peace and Conflict Studies
Centre for Conflict Studies
University of Marburg
Ketzerbach 11
32035 Marburg, Germany

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‘Journey to Make’: a film festival with Pan Intercultural Arts

The Wiener Library, 29 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DPWed 18 Jun 2014  Time: 6.30pm – 8pm

The Wiener Library is delighted to be partnering with Pan Intercultural Arts to host a special film festival and reception marking Refugee Week 2014. The film festival will showcase a collection of short films made by Pan’s Fortune group on the theme of forced journeys. A selection of the films will be introduced by their makers, followed by a drinks and networking reception.  Pan Arts is an organisation dedicated to the exploration of cultural diversity through the arts and how such work can inspire and implement social change. Fortune provides a safe space for 17-23 yr olds from across the world to (re)discover their creative impulses, gain their self confidence and their freedom of ideas and communicate them to a wider audience.  Free but booking required due to limited places.

For more detail, contact Matthew Nicholson [MNicholson@wienerlibrary.co.uk]
Website Address: http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/Whats-On?item=144

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