Held annually during the first two weeks of June, the Silberman Faculty Seminar is endowed by the Curt C. and Else Silberman Foundation in memory of Curt C. and Else Silberman. The Foundation supports programs in higher education that promote, protect, and strengthen Jewish values in democracy, human rights, ethical leadership, and cultural pluralism.
Participant response to the seminars has been enthusiastic and positive.
Learn about the 2013 Silberman Faculty Seminar, Teaching about the Holocaust: Antisemitism, the “Final Solution,” Jewish Response, and Denial.
The seminar explored and compared the points of convergence and divergence between male and female experiences of the Holocaust in a variety of circumstances, including early persecution, refugee life, concentration camp life, life in hiding, separation and reunion of families, and survival in the postwar era.
The 2011 seminar explored Jewish responses to persecution through an investigation of both primary and secondary source readings. It included presentations, participant-facilitated discussions of classroom teaching methods, and roundtable discussions of teaching strategies across multiple disciplines.
The 2010 seminar explored Jewish responses to persecution through an investigation of both primary and secondary source readings. It included presentations, participant-facilitated discussions of classroom teaching methods, and roundtable discussions of teaching strategies across multiple disciplines.
The 2009 seminar deepened participants’ understanding of why and how the Holocaust occurred; introduced them to contemporary reflections on its aftermath and aftereffects; and equipped them with the knowledge base and pedagogical techniques required to address the most frequently asked questions (and misconceptions) raised by students as well as the fundamental issues that should concern students most.
Over two thirds of the Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis and their allies lived within the borders of prewar Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. The 2008 Silberman Seminar focused on the Holocaust in this region; the current public debate on the involvement of their citizens in the perpetration of the Holocaust; and the complex issues of memory, memorialization, and remembrance. This year's seminar was led by Professor Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Chair of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University. Professor Polonsky is a specialist on the history and culture of the Jews of East Central Europe and the history of the Holocaust.
The 2007 Silberman Seminar was designed for U.S. law faculty teaching or preparing to teach courses on constitutional and international law and related legal fields, endeavoring to draw lessons from or develop themes based on the Holocaust and genocide. The objective was to strengthen participants’ knowledge of the impact of the Holocaust on the development of domestic and international law. Seminar sessions were led by Theodor Meron, Judge of the Appeals Chamber of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals, The Hague, Netherlands; Dinah Shelton, Patricia Roberts Harris Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School; and Henry Friedlander, Professor Emeritus of History in the Department of Judaic Studies at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. Lecture and discussion topics included the co-opting and corrupting of the German legal system during the Holocaust; the independence of the judiciary and judicial ethics; minority rights; property, reparations, and restitution issues; domestic legal actions against perpetrators, including denaturalization, deportation, and lustration; the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal and subsequent national and international trials; continuity and change since 1945 in international human rights law and international criminal law, including peremptory norms and state and diplomatic immunities; transitional justice today; hate speech prohibitions; and genocide denial and the law.
Twenty-one faculty from colleges and universities in nine U.S. states and Canada participated in the 2006 Silberman Seminar. The co-leaders of the seminar were Mark Roseman, Pat M. Glazer Professor of Jewish History at Indiana University, and Dr. Juergen Matthaeus, Senior Research Scholar in the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The seminar schedule included presentations on the history of the Holocaust; participant-facilitated discussions on classroom teaching methods; and roundtable discussions on teaching strategies across multiple disciplines. Presentations and discussions covered such topics as Holocaust testimony; studies of perpetrators, collaborators, bystanders and victims; individual/collective trauma; comparative violence/genocide; gender roles; antisemitism; and topics suggested by participants. Participants were introduced to research resources that may be used in the classroom (e.g., Museum library, document archives, memoir collection, photo archives, oral testimonies, film and video archive, Holocaust survivor database). Participants also had the opportunity to consult and interact with Museum staff and visiting scholars.
Professors Christopher R. Browning, James Waller, and Jane Caplan led this Silberman Seminar for Faculty. Dr. Browning, an internationally recognized leader in the field of Holocaust studies is Frank Porter Graham Professor of History, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and 2002–2003 Ina Levine Scholar, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Dr. Waller is Professor of Psychology and Edward B. Lindaman Chair of the Psychology Department at Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington; and was a participant in the Center’s 1999 Summer Seminar on Teaching the Holocaust, taught by Raul Hilberg, and the 2005 Summer Research Workshop on Interpreting Testimony. Dr. Caplan is University Lecturer in Modern History and Fellow of St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, and participated in the Center’s 2005 Summer Research Workshop on Gender and the Holocaust. The objective of this seminar was to (1) examine recent developments in Holocaust-based research in the social sciences, and (2) review approaches for incorporating Holocaust history into college/university-level teaching. Discussions included such topics as individual/collective trauma, perpetrator-victim-bystander studies, inter-ethnic relations, comparative violence/genocide, gender roles, and the influence of antisemitism.
Professor Peter Longerich and Dr. Wendy Lower led the sixth summer seminar. Dr. Longerich is Professor of Modern German History at Royal Holloway, University of London; Director of the University’s Research Centre for the Holocaust and Twentieth Century History; and was the 2003-2004 J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Senior Scholar in Residence at the Museum. His breadth of knowledge concerning Nazi policy and the origins of the “Final Solution” is reflected in his numerous publications and has been widely consulted. Most recently, he was the primary document expert for the defense in the libel trial brought by Holocaust-denier David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books. Dr. Lower is Assistant Professor of History at Towsend University and has taught on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust at American University and Georgetown University. Dr. Lower commands in-depth knowledge of the Museum's archival collections, oral histories, films, and photo archives; was a principle architect of the Center's developing multi-volume publication series, Archives of the Holocaust, and is a published specialist on the Holocaust in the Ukraine. The objective of this seminar was to (1) explore the power of using primary sources to respond to critical questions about the Holocaust, (2) closely examine subject areas where this approach is especially appropriate, and (3) identify effective pedagogical approaches to employing Holocaust-era documentation in the classroom.
Professors Geoffrey H. Hartman, Sterling Professor (Emeritus) of English and Comparative Literature, and Project Director, Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University, New Haven Connecticut; Sara R. Horowitz, Associate Professor of English, Division of Humanities, and Associate Director, Centre for Jewish Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario; and R. Clifton Spargo, Assistant Professor of English, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin led the Center's fifth summer seminar. The seminar focused on key issues such as the methods and importance of employing Holocaust-related fiction and poetry in English and literature courses; the ways in which the history and memory of the Holocaust are transmitted in literature; the public reception of those transmissions; the relationship between oral testimony and literature; and the potentially therapeutic value of using literature to confront the emotional trauma left behind after the genocide.
Professor Omer Bartov, the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History in the Department of History, Brown University, and author of Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich; Mirrors of Destruction: War, Genocide, and Modern Identity; and Murder in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing, and Representation, led the Center's fourth summer seminar. The seminar focused on key issues such as decision-making and genocide; perpetrator motivation; the Holocaust as it relates to other genocides; uses of oral testimony, literature, fiction, and documentaries in the classroom; and commemoration.
Professor John K. Roth, the Russell K. Pitzer Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College led the Center’s third summer seminar, which was designed for professors of philosophy, religion or ethics. The seminar focused on such questions as: Why were ethical traditions ineffective in preventing the Holocaust? Are there ethical implications and lessons that emerge from the Holocaust? How can study of the Holocaust best be included in ethical reflection? What do philosophy and religious studies contribute to Holocaust studies, and how can Holocaust studies help to define the tasks of philosophy and religious studies?
Professor Richard Breitman of the Department of History at American University led the 2000 Summer Seminar. Dr. Breitman is the author of What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew and The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution. Sixteen faculty members from as many institutions participated in this intensive, two week program from June 5–16, 2000.
Renowned historian and scholar Raul Hilberg, author of the classic work in the field, The Destruction of the European Jews, led the inaugural seminar in June 1999. One participant said about Hilberg,
“To work with him directly is not simply to be informed; it is to be inspired.”
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