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< All Fellows and Scholars

Dr. Karel C. Berkhoff

Dr. Karel C. Berkhoff
2010-2011 J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Senior Scholar-in-Residence

"Babi Yar and other Sites of Mass Murder in Central Ukraine: History and Remembrance"

Professional Background

Karel C. Berkhoff is Associate Professor at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also teaches at the University of Amsterdam where he is coordinator of the Holocaust and Genocides Studies track of the M.A. program in history. He received a Ph.D. in history from the University of Toronto in Canada, an M.A. in regional studies (Soviet Union Program) from Harvard University, and two Doctorandus degrees (M.A. equivalent) in Russian studies and history from the University of Amsterdam. For his J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Senior Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship, Dr. Berkhoff conducted research for his project, “Babi Yar and other Sites of Mass Murder in Central Ukraine: History and Remembrance.”

Dr. Berkhoff is the author of a monograph on Soviet home front propaganda from 1941-1945 (forthcoming with Harvard University Press) as well as the book, Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine under Nazi Rule (2004), which won the 2001 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, Category A. He has also written countless scholarly articles, including, “‘Total Annihilation of the Jewish Population’: The Holocaust in the Soviet Media, 1941-45” in Kritika. Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 10, no. 1 (Winter 2009); “Dina Pronicheva’s Story of Surviving the Babi Yar Massacre: German, Jewish, Soviet, Russian, and Ukrainian Records” in Ray Brandon and Wendy Lower, eds., The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization (2008); and, as coauthor, “The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Its Attitude toward Germans and Jews: Iaroslav Stets’ko’s 1941 Zhyttiepys” in Harvard Ukrainian Studies 23, no. 3-4 (1999). Dr. Berkhoff has been featured in many interviews, published as well as radio and TV, and has presented his work at conferences throughout Europe and in the United States. A native speaker of Dutch, Dr. Berkhoff has additional language skills in English, French, German, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Belarusian, and Yiddish.

Fellowship Research

During his tenure at the Center, Dr. Berkhoff conducted research on the mass murders near Kiev, in particular Babi Yar – site of the largest single Nazi shootings of Jews in the entire Soviet Union. His research analyzed three main points: how the murders were organized and perpetrated and the responses of victims and other locals; how the murders were reported – secretly and publicly by Germans, Soviet intelligence and others both at the time and in years following; and how the murder sites have been treated by the Nazis, the Soviet regime, and by Ukraine’s post-Soviet authorities. Dr. Berkhoff also explored the controversy surrounding the memorialization of Babi Yar and other sites by locals and the government. He also studied Babi Yar as a worldwide symbol, as evident from visits by important statesmen and leaders such as President George H.W. Bush and Pope John Paul II, and its reenactment in some television series and films.

Dr. Berkhoff was in residence at the Mandel Center from October 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011.