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Dr. David Frey
William J. Lowenberg Memorial Fellow on America, the Holocaust and the Jews

"Marginal Soldiers"

Professional Background

David Frey is Professor of History and the founding Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He has taught at West Point since 2004, after a one-year stint as Lecturer at Columbia University. He received his PhD in Central European History from Columbia in 2003. At West Point, Dr. Frey co-created and co-chairs the Academy’s Diversity and Inclusion Studies Minor, the first minor of its type at any service academy. From 2018-20, he served as Chair of the Academy’s Civilian Faculty Senate equivalent. In addition, he has won multiple awards for teaching and scholarly excellence and was honored as an international agent of change by USHMM in 2018, part of its 25th anniversary ceremonies.

Dr. Frey is the author of Jews, Nazis, and the Cinema of Hungary: The Tragedy of Success, 1929-44 (IB Tauris, 2017), which won the Hungarian Studies Association biennial Book of the Year Award in 2019. Co-author of Ordinary Soldiers: A Study in Law, Ethics and Leadership (USHMM, 2014), he has written or co-written a score of articles and chapters on Hungarian film, the Holocaust, German history, genocide, leadership, espionage, and pedagogy. He has appeared on 60 Minutes and has received individual grants and fellowships from the Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency (DARPA), the Army Research Office, Fulbright, the Lantos Foundation, the Lucius Littauer Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, the German Academic Exchange, the Mellon Foundation, the Harriman Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

As Director of West Point’s CHGS, Dr. Frey has spearheaded efforts to increase service academy and Defense Department awareness of, understanding of, research into, and efforts to prevent mass atrocity. He has testified in Senate hearings, advised the Office of the Secretary of Defense on atrocity prevention, and has served on USHMM’s Education Committee since 2015 . Dr. Frey also helped create and is an executive committee member of the Consortium of Higher Education Centers for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies as well as its Northeast Regional affiliate. He currently directs and is engaged in multiple multidisciplinary, mass-atrocity related research projects, the largest being an analysis of narratives of extremism, a multi-institutional study which received five years of funding from the Department of Defense’s Defense Health Agency and the David Berg Foundation, to begin in September 2021.

Fellowship Research

During his fellowship at the Mandel Center, Dr. Frey will conduct research on the “marginal soldiers” who served in military intelligence functions in the US Army during World War II. This project aims to produce traditional scholarly and digital works, as well as small exhibits for museum use.

Soldier and officer interactions with diversity and atrocity during World War II continue to powerfully influence how we and the world conceive of Americanness. Dr. Frey will focus on one element of a larger project on Americanness, concentrating on marginalized soldiers in military intelligence during and after the Second World War. Service members who were refugees from Nazi Europe, Japanese Americans, Native Americans, African Americans, women, artists, intellectuals, and others sometimes transcended, sometimes expanded, and sometimes rejected identifications of what it meant to be American. Dr. Frey’s study will focus particularly on two of these sub-groups, Jewish refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe and Japanese American (Nisei) who trained, took courses, or taught at Camp Ritchie, the Military Intelligence Training Center, between 1942-45. The struggles of these men and a handful of women, their incredible wartime contributions, their equally profound postwar activities, and their enduring effects on the culture, politics, economics, and thought of the Cold War era make up the broader framework for Dr. Frey’s research.

Residency Period: October 1, 2021, through May 31, 2022