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November 02, 2017
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7 p.m.

US Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC 20024

2017 Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture:
Concentration Camps–The Limits of Representing History
Public Program
The ruins of Crematorium II at Auschwitz photographed in February 1945. <i>US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Instytut Pamiȩci Narodowej</i>
The ruins of Crematorium II at Auschwitz photographed in February 1945. US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Instytut Pamiȩci Narodowej

“It was clear to each and every one of us that the things we had seen needed to be told,” wrote the Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi; but how should historians tell the story of Auschwitz and other Nazi camps? How should they write about crimes that seem to defy explanation and defeat language? In this lecture, Dr. Nikolaus Wachsmann reflects on these questions, discussing the challenges of capturing the voices of Nazi victims, perpetrators, and onlookers.

Dr. Nikolaus Wachsmann is professor of modern European history at Birkbeck College (University of London). He has written extensively on Nazi terror and repression, and serves on the advisory boards of the memorials in Sachsenhausen, Ravensbrück, Bergen-Belsen, and Mauthausen. He recently devised an educational website on the Nazi camps (, supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. His latest book is KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps (2015), which has been widely translated and was awarded the Wolfson History Prize and the Mark Lynton History Prize. He is a member of the Royal Historical Society.

Dr. Nikolaus Wachsmann, Professor of Modern European History, Birkbeck College, University of London

The program will be followed by a dessert reception in the Museum's Hall of Witness.

The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture honors excellence in research on the Holocaust and fosters dissemination of important, new Holocaust scholarship. Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff of Baltimore, Maryland, were active philanthropists in the United States and abroad, focusing especially on Jewish learning and scholarship, music, the arts, and humanitarian causes. Their children, Eleanor Katz and Harvey M. Meyerhoff, member and Chairman Emeritus, United States Holocaust Memorial Council, have endowed this lecture.

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Please note that the Museum may be recording and photographing this event. By your presence you consent to the Museum's use of your image.

Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture
The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture on the Holocaust was endowed by the Meyerhoff family in 1994 to honor excellence in research and foster dissemination of cutting-edge scholarly work in the field of Holocaust Studies.
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Holocaust Encyclopedia: Auschwitz
The Auschwitz concentration camp complex was the largest of its kind established by the Nazi regime. It included three main camps. All three camps used prisoners for forced labor. One of them also functioned for an extended period as a killing center.
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Holocaust Encyclopedia: Concentration Camps: In Depth
German authorities under National Socialism established a variety of detention facilities to confine those whom they defined as political, ideological, or racial opponents of the regime.
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The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
The Mandel Center supports scholarship and publications in the field, promotes the growth of Holocaust studies at American universities, fosters strong relationships between American and international scholars, and initiates programs to ensure the ongoing training of future generations of scholars.
Learn More