Department ofHistory


2012 Holocaust Conference

Art theft and the reaction of church and university leaders in Nazi Germany

The fifth annual Powell and Heller Holocaust Conference at PLU will focus March 8 on the Nazi plunder of Jewish valuables, along with belated efforts at restitution. There will also be a session on German churches and universities, with speakers discussing Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Catholic Church, and postwar denazification.

2011 Holocaust Conference

Stories in the First Person

This year's Powell-Heller Holocaust Conference will focus on genocide, and personal stories of those who have survived genocides from Rwanda to the Congo. To start off the conference on Thursday, a co-director of The Last Survivor will talk about the making of the documentary.  Discussion of the film will be led by director Michael Pertnoy and the young survivor from the Congo portrayed in the film, Justin Semahoro Kimenyerwa.

PLU Fall Holocaust Program Lecture-"The Crime of My Very Existence" Nov. 11, 2010

holocaust lectureAt the PLU Fall Lecture in Holocaust Studies on Nov. 11, Prof. Michael Berkowitz will speak from his book, The Crime of My Very Existence. The event is free and open to the public and will take place in Xavier Hall at 7 p.m.

Berkowitz, is now a professor and the director of the Holocaust Program at the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University College London. His work investigates a rarely considered yet critical dimension of anti-Semitism that was instrumental in the conception and perpetration of the Holocaust: the association of Jews with criminality.

Drawing from a rich body of documentary evidence, including memoirs and little-studied photographs, Michael Berkowitz traces the myths and realities pertinent to the discourse on "Jewish criminality" from the eighteenth century through the Weimar Republic, into the complex Nazi assault on the Jews, and extending into postwar Europe. Berkowitz also studied the Jewish reaction to the propaganda machine, including organizing legal defense funds, creating committees to help Jews immigrate to Palestine and launching a public relations campaign of their own, Ericksen said.

Kurt Mayer Professor of Holocaust Studies Robert Ericksen reports on his research in Berlin this summer

During June and July 2009, Kurt Mayer Professorship funds allowed Bob Ericksen to do research in Berlin at various libraries and archives, including the Central Church Archive of Berlin. Cambridge University Press approached him bob ericksonlast year to write Christians in Nazi Germany, a 250-page book which will become part of the "short history" series published by Cambridge. He is now contracted to complete that manuscript by the end of 2010. He also has written the chapter on German Protestants for the Oxford Handbook on the Holocaust, edited by John Roth and Peter Hayes. This volume will appear in 2010.

Cioma Schönhaus, Holocaust Survivor. As part of his summer work in Europe, Ericksen visited and interviewed Cioma Schönhaus in Basel. Schönhaus grew up in Berlin. As a teenager he began using his artistic skills to forge Nazi stamps on falsified IDs. This allowed him to live illegally in Berlin and it also saved the lives of dozens, or even hundreds of fellow Jews. A few members of the Protestant Confessing Church in Berlin organized this program. When participants in this Kaufmann Circle” began to be arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, Cioma pedaled his bicycle all the way to southern Germany and then managed to sneak across the Swiss border. He arrived in Basel, where he still lives. Two sons of Cioma Schönhaus visited Tacoma a year ago, invited by Professor Doug Oakman of the PLU Religion Department. They performed in their klezmer band, Bait Jaffe, and >also spoke about their father’s experience of the Holocaust. His story can be found in a recent memoir, The Forger, which is now being made into a film.