Past Programs & Events

Mar 29, 2018

Montse Armengou and Sebastiaan Faber

10th Catalan Film Festival: Catalonia Now

As part of the 10th Catalan Film Festival: Catalonia Now, IHGMS is pleased to host Montse Armengou, Catalan Journalist and Investigative Documentary Filmmaker, and Professor Sebastiaan Faber, Chair of the Dept. of Hispanic Studies, Oberlin College, in conjunction with the screening of General Report II: The New Abduction of Europe, directed by Pere Portabella.

Montse Armengou will present Documentaries, Victims and Reparation: Investigative Journalism as a Tool for Recovering Historical Memory, a discussion of why investigative journalists have to step in where the state has failed, in Spain and around the world. Her work has revealed unknown aspects of the repression of Franco's dictatorship in Spain.

Since 1985 Armengou has worked for Televisió de Catalunya. She co-directed three award winning documentary films—Franco's Forgotten Children (2002), The Spanish Holocaust (2003), and 927 on the train to Hell (2004)—that examine different aspects of the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist State, such as the forced relocation of Republican children, disappearances and mass graves, and the 1940 deportation of Spanish Republicans from the French town of Angouleme to the Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen in Austria. Last year she was the Visiting Chair at the King Juan Carlos Center at NYU.

Sebastiaan Faber will present his talk Experts as Advocates: Foreign Scholars in Iberian Crises, from the Spanish Civil War to the Catalan Question. Faber was widely interviewed and quoted about the current social and political situation in Catalonia, the recent referendum for the independence and its aftermath. He writes in The Nation and appears on Democracy Now!, Real News Network, Free Speech TV's Rising Up with Sonali, and on KPFT's Hi Monitor.

Faber is the author of Exile and Cultural Hegemony: Spanish Intellectuals in Mexico, 1939-1975 (Vanderbilt, 2002), Anglo-American Hispanists and the Spanish Civil War: Hispanophilia, Commitment, and Discipline (Palgrave, 2008), and Memory Battles of the Spanish Civil War: History, Fiction, Photography (Vanderbilt, 2018); he is co-editor of Contra el olvido. El exilio español en Estados Unidos (U de Alcalá, 2009). From 2010 until 2015, he served as the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA). Born and raised in the Netherlands, he has been at Oberlin since 1999. For a list of publications with links to full text, see

Following the talks at IHGMS, there will be a screening of General Report II: The New Abduction of Europe by Pere Portabella at the Integrative Learning Center, Room S240, at 6:30pm.

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Mar 26, 2018

Foreign Volunteers in the 1948 War : A Comparative Examination

The first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 began as a civil war, fought between the Arab and Jewish citizens of Mandate Palestine. It then developed into an inter-state war after the Israeli declaration of independence and the subsequent intervention of the neighboring Arab states. At the same time it was also a transnational conflict, drawing in volunteers from non-belligerent states. In the early stages of the war the clearest manifestations of transnational involvement were the Arab Liberation Army forces and the Muslim Brotherhood units that joined the fight on the Palestinian Arab side. As the conflict broadened, the most dominant transnational participants were the predominantly Jewish volunteers who travelled to the Middle East from Europe, North America, South Africa and elsewhere to fight for the fledgling Jewish state.

Through an examination of the motivations, military significance and legal status of these foreign participants in the 1948 War, this talk will highlight the common characteristics they shared with foreign volunteers in other conflicts such as the Polish-Soviet War (1920), the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the Second World War. It will also illustrate in which respects transnational participation in the conflict in Palestine differs from other historical cases.

SPEAKER: Nir Arielli is Associate Professor of International History at the University of Leeds. His most recent book, From Byron to bin Laden: A History of Foreign War Volunteers, was published by Harvard University Press in early 2018. Arielli is also author of Fascist Italy and the Middle East (2010), editor of the memoir Between Tel Aviv and Moscow: A Life of Dissent and Exile in Mandate Palestine and the Soviet Union (2015,) and co-editor of Transnational Soldiers: Foreign Military Enlistment in the Modern Era (2013). He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Mar 22, 2018


Joseph Süss Oppenheimer, also known as ”Jew Süss,” is one of the most iconic figures in the history of anti-Semitism. Oppenheimer was the “court Jew” of the duke of the small German state of Württemberg, but when the duke died unexpectedly in 1737, local authorities arrested him, put him on trial, and eventually executed him. Oppenheimer is most often remembered today through a vicious Nazi propaganda movie made about him in 1940 at the behest of Joseph Goebbels. This talk will discuss Oppenheimer’s notorious trial, the unusual documents it left behind, and its relevance to us today.

SPEAKER: Yair Mintzker is professor of European history at Princeton University. He has been the recipient of several prizes, including the Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize (2010) and the Urban History Association best book prize (2014), as well as fellowships from the Stanford Humanities Center, the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Mintzker is the author of two monographs: The Defortification of the German City, 1689-1866 (2012) and The Many Deaths of Jew Süss (2017).  His latest book was chosen by the Financial Times as one of the best book of 2017. Recently, it has also been awarded the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in history.

Mar 20, 2018


It is a mainstay of thoughtful historical thinking to maintain that the investigator should place herself in the time of the historical subject and imagine her time, place, circumstance, motivations, and experience. There is no historical understanding without the notion of empathy (distinguished from sympathy—feeling sorry or compassion for someone). But this idea only opens a whole set of questions: what actually stands behind this assumption—in terms of method, theory, and ethics? Can we empathize with all historical actors, including genocide perpetrators?  Should we empathize at all? In conceiving of the notion of empathy, what are the disciplinary relations between history, psychoanalysis, trauma studies, and literary criticism? These questions have been debated among scholars for a long time and have received of late renewed interest. (One recent noteworthy publication is the collection of essays edited by Aleida Assmann and Ines Detmers, Empathy and its Limits [London, 2016]). To make sense of these considerations, our point of departure is psychoanalyst and philosopher Roger Frie's 2017 Canadian Jewish Literary Award-winning book, Not in my Family: German Memory and Responsibility After the Holocaust (Oxford UP, 2017), in which he confronts the unspoken Nazi past in his German family and lays bare some of the crucial promises and problems in thinking with empathy.


Dr. Roger Frie is a psychologist and an interdisciplinary scholar in the fields of history, philosophy and psychoanalysis. He is Professor of Education at Simon Fraser University, Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and faculty member and supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology in New York. Frie explores what it means to live in the shadow of historical trauma, and draws on his own German family history and experience of living across German and Jewish contexts. He is the author of the award winning book, Not In My Family: German Memory and Responsibility After the Holocaust, (Oxford) which received the 2017 Canadian Jewish Literary Award, and is editor, most recently, of History Flows Through Us: Germany, the Holocaust and the Importance of Empathy, (Routledge) which creates a dialogue between Holocaust historians and psychoanalysts and is a tribute to the work of Thomas Kohut.

Dr. Irene Kacandes is currently The Dartmouth Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College. Dr. Kacandes is a prolific writer who has published several monographs including the most recent Let’s Talk About Death: Asking the Questions that Profoundly Change How We Live and Die [with Steve Gordon] (Prometheus Press, 2015). Her most recent edited volume is Eastern Europe Unmapped: Beyond Borders and Peripheries [with Yuliya Komska] (Berghahn Books, 2017). Specializing in narrative theory, cultural studies, and life writing, she has written articles concerning orality and literacy, feminist linguistics, trauma and memory studies, the Holocaust and Holocaust memoir, and experimental memoirs.

Dr. Thomas Kohut is currently Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Professor of History at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Kohut is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and of the Council of Scholars at the Erik Erikson Institute at Austen Riggs. From 2000 to 2006, Kohut served as Dean of the Faculty at Williams College. Kohut has written two books: A German Generation: An Experiential History of the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press; 2012); Wilhelm II and the Germans: A Study in Leadership (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).

Moderated by Dr. Alon Confino, Director of the Institute of Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Pen Tishkach Chair of Holocaust Studies at University of Massachusetts Amherst.


Mar 7, 2018


Co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival

Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival and UMass IHGMS present "In Search of Suchomel in Claude Lanzmann's Shoah: Constructing the Holocaust Perpetrator between the Outtakes and the Finished Film." Erin McGlothlin (German & Jewish Studies, Washington Univeristy) offers poignant new insights into Lanzmann’s monumental Holocaust documentary, based upon extensive research on the hundreds of hours of outtakes in the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Followed by a screening of


(2015, dir Adam Benzine, UK, 58 min; Academy Award nominee, Documentary Short Subject).

The 92-year-old French journalist, philosopher and filmmaker reflects on the trials and tribulations he faced during the 12-year journey to make his Holocaust masterpiece, Shoah (1985).  In this special Director's Cut, Lanzmann discusses the challenges of tracking down Nazi officials and traumatized death camp survivors, fighting in the French Resistance as a teenager, his relationship with philosophers Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, and his hopes and expectations for the future in this intimate portrait.

Co-sponsored by UMass Institute for Holocaust, Genocide & Memory Studies.

Introduction by Jonathan Skolnik (UMass).

137 Isenberg School of Management