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< All Fellows and Scholars

Professor Richard Breitman

Dr. Richard Breitman
2005-2006 Ina Levine Invitational Scholar

“James G. McDonald and American Refugee Policy” and “Joel Brand’s Mission to Istanbul”

Professional Background

Professor Richard Breitman received a Ph.D. and an M.A. in history from Harvard University and a B.A. in history and political science summa cum laude from Yale College. During his fellowship at the Museum, he was Professor of History at American University; Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; and Director of Historical Research, Nazi War Criminals Records and Imperial Japanese Record Interagency Working Group. For his Ina Levine Invitational Scholar Fellowship, Professor Breitman conducted research on “James G. McDonald and American Refugee Policy” and “Joel Brand’s Mission to Istanbul.”

Professor Breitman’s contributions to the fields of history and Holocaust studies are extensive. In addition to lecturing widely throughout the United States and around the world, he has authored numerous books including U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis (with Norman J. W. Goda, and Timothy Naftali, Washington, D.C.: The National Archives Trust Fund for the Nazi War Criminals Records Interagency Working Group, 2004), Official Secrets: What the Nazis Planned, What the British and Americans Knew (New York: Hill and Wang/Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1998), and The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991) for which he was awarded the prestigious Fraenkel Prize for Contemporary History. Professor Breitman is also the author of dozens of scholarly articles and book reviews. His work has been translated into German, Hebrew, Japanese, Czech, Portuguese, French, and Italian. He was also a 1997-1998 Joyce and Arthur Schechter Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.

Fellowship Research

During his tenure at the Museum, Professor Breitman gave an evening lecture on “Prelude to Catastrophe? The Roosevelt Administration and the Nazi Assault on the Jews, 1938-1939.” He conducted research on the diary of James G. McDonald. Appointed to the League of Nations as High Commissioner for Refugees in 1933, McDonald met with Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, and Truman as well as other major historical figures of the time and served as the first U.S. Ambassador to Israel in 1949. In April 2004, McDonald’s diaries and personal papers--over 10,000 pages--were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, offering an unprecedented opportunity for scholarly research into this area.

Professor Breitman was in residence at the Mandel Center from September 1, 2005 to May 31, 2006.