Held annually during the first two weeks of June, the Center’s Curt C. and Else Silberman Seminar for Faculty 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.
“I came away with a fuller appreciation of the power of primary sources in documenting historical events and bringing them alive, and I expect that discovery to significantly affect what I teach and how I teach.”
“I found the seminar to have been the most intellectually stimulating and inspiring academic program I have attended in my 15 years as a faculty member ... The seminar made me remember why I decided to become an academic ... I returned from the seminar re-energized and excited about sharing what I learned with the students who have signed up for my courses ... I feel truly honored and privileged for having been allowed to participate.”
The Center is now accepting applications for the 2014 Silberman Seminar, Teaching about the Holocaust in the Soviet Union: Perpetrators, Collaborators, Bystanders, and Victims. Learn more.
2013: Teaching about the Holocaust: Antisemitism, the “Final Solution,” Jewish Response, and Denial
The 2013 seminar strengthened participants’ backgrounds in Holocaust history and provided a firm scholarly grounding for Holocaust courses. The seminar consisted of presentations on the history of antisemitism and the Holocaust, participant-facilitated discussions on classroom teaching methods, and roundtable discussions on teaching strategies across multiple disciplines. Presentations and discussions included an overview of Holocaust history and topics, as well as new research findings for participants to incorporate into their course syllabi.
2012: Teaching the Gendered Experience of the Holocaust
The 2012 seminar deepened participants’ understanding of the Holocaust through the perspective of gender by exploring and comparing the points of convergence and divergence between male and female experiences 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. Through an interdisciplinary lens that combines historical, literary, archival, and visual sources, participants analyzed the experiences of gays and lesbians; how gendered perspective is reflected in Holocaust diaries, memoirs, and art; the gendered experiences of perpetrators and their postwar representation; and other topics.
2011: Teaching the Holocaust: An Integrated Approach
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.
2010: Jewish Responses to the Holocaust: Teaching the Victims’ Perspective
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.
2009: Teaching the Holocaust: Causes, Course, Consequences
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.
2008: Teaching the Legacy of the Holocaust: Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine
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 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. It was led by Professor Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Chair of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University and a specialist on the history and culture of the Jews of East Central Europe and the history of the Holocaust.
2007: The Impact and Legacy of the Holocaust on the Law
The 2007 seminar was designed for US law faculty teaching or preparing to teach courses on constitutional and international law and related legal field. Designed to strengthen participants’ knowledge of the impact of the Holocaust on the development of domestic and international law, the seminar featured sessions 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.
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; transitional justice today; hate speech prohibitions; and genocide denial and the law.
2006: Seminar for Faculty Teaching Holocaust-Related Courses
Twenty-one faculty from colleges and universities in nine US 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 Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. 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; and antisemitism.
2005: Seminar for Faculty in the Social Sciences
The 2005 seminar was designed 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.
Professors Christopher R. Browning, James Waller, and Jane Caplan led the seminar. Dr. Browning, an internationally recognized leader in the field of Holocaust studies, is Frank Porter Graham Professor of History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Center’s 2002–2003 Ina Levine Scholar. 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 at the University of Oxford and participated in the Center’s 2005 Summer Research Workshop on Gender and the Holocaust.
2004: Using Primary Sources for Teaching the Holocaust
The 2004 seminar was designed 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.
Professor Peter Longerich and Dr. Wendy Lower led the seminar. Dr. Longerich is Professor of Modern German History at Royal Holloway, University of London and Director of the University’s Research Centre for the Holocaust and Twentieth Century History. He 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 Towson University and has taught on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust at American University and Georgetown University. She 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 multivolume publication series, Archives of the Holocaust; and is a published specialist on the Holocaust in the Ukraine.
2003: Literature and the Holocaust
The 2003 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.
Professors Geoffrey H. Hartman, Sterling Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature, and Project Director, Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, at Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut; Sara R. Horowitz, Associate Professor of English, Division of Humanities, and Associate Director, Centre for Jewish Studies, at York University, in Toronto, Ontario; and R. Clifton Spargo, Assistant Professor of English at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, led the seminar.
2002 The Holocaust: History, Memory, Representation
The 2002 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 Omer Bartov, the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History in the Department of History at 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 seminar.
2001: Ethics After the Holocaust: Key Issues for Philosophy and Religion
Professor John K. Roth, the Russell K. Pitzer Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College, led the Center’s the 2001 seminar, 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?
2000: Seminar on Teaching the Holocaust
Professor Richard Breitman of the Department of History at American University led the 2000 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.
1999: Seminar on Teaching the Holocaust
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 of Hilberg, “To work with him directly is not simply to be informed; it is to be inspired.”