University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance

Past Programs & Events

Sep 17, 2013

The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe

by Olga Gershenson. Book Launch and Author’s Talk Illustrated with Film Clips

Even people familiar with cinema believe there is no such thing as a Soviet Holocaust film. The Phantom Holocaust tells a different story. The Soviets were actually among the first to portray these events on screens. In 1938, several films exposed Nazi anti-Semitism, and a 1945 movie depicted the mass execution of Jews in Babi Yar. Other significant pictures followed in the 1960s. But the more directly filmmakers engaged with the Holocaust, the more likely their work was to be banned by state censors. Some films were never made while others came out in such limited release that the Holocaust remained a phantom on Soviet screens. Focusing on work by both celebrated and unknown Soviet directors and screenwriters, Olga Gershenson has written the first book about all Soviet narrative films dealing with the Holocaust from 1938 to 1991. In addition to studying the completed films, Gershenson analyzes the projects that were banned at various stages of production. The book draws on archival research and in-depth interviews to tell the sometimes tragic and sometimes triumphant stories of filmmakers who found authentic ways to represent the Holocaust in the face of official silencing. 

Olga Gershenson is Associate Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She is the author of Gesher: Russian Theatre in Israel (Peter Lang, 2005) and editor of Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender (Temple UP, 2009). The Phantom Holocaust: Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe (Rutgers UP, 2013) is her latest book. To learn more about her work, see


Apr 25, 2013

Roundtable on the Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe

With Omer Bartov, Joanna Michlic, John-Paul Himka, and Catherine Portuges

In honor of the Spring publication of Bringing the Dark to Light:  The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe, co-edited by Joanna Michlic and John-Paul Himka, the IHGMS is very pleased to host a roundtable discussion of Holocaust reception in post-communist Europe , with the co-editors and one of their esteemed authors, Omer Bartov.  The roundtable will be moderated by James Young, Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst.  Admission is free, but seating is limited to 100.  A reception and book-signing will follow.


Omer Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University and chair of the department of History. He was born and raised in Israel and received his BA degree from Tel Aviv University. He was awarded his D.Phil. from Oxford University in 1983, and taught at Tel Aviv University until 1989. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books include The Eastern Front, 1941-45 (1985), Hitler's Army (1991), Murder in Our Midst (1996), Mirrors of Destruction (2000), Germany's War and the Holocaust (2003), The "Jew" in Cinema (2005), and Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine (2007). His books have been translated into many languages. Bartov has also written for such magazines as The New Republic, The Nation, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, and other European and Israeli journals. He is now completing a new book, The Voice of Your Brother's Blood: Buczacz, Biography of a Town, to be published with Simon & Schuster in the next couple of years.

John-Paul Himka is Professor of History at the University of Alberta. He served as co-editor for history for The Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Vols. 3-5. He has also written four monographs on Ukrainian history and edited or co-edited six other books. Currently he is working on Ukrainians and the Holocaust. His 2009 Mohyla lecture was published by Heritage Press (Saskatoon) as Ukrainians, Jews, and the Holocaust: Divergent Memories. In 2011 he received the J. Gordin Kaplan Award for Excellence in Research.

Joanna Beata Michlic is a social and cultural historian, and founder and Director of HBI (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute) Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust at Brandeis University.  Her publications include Neighbors Respond: The Controversy about Jedwabne (2004), co-edited with Antony Polonsky;  and Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present (2006), and the forthcoming Bringing the Dark to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe, co-edited with John-Paul Himka (2013). She is also the editor of the forthcoming Jewish Families in Europe, 1939-Present: History, Representation, and Memory (2014).  Her two current research topics are the history of rescuers of Jews and East European Jewish childhood, 1945-1950.

Catherine Portuges is Professor of Comparative Literature, Director of the Interdepartmental Program in Film Studies, and Curator of the annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her books include Cinemas in Transition in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 (with Peter Hames, Temple, 2013); Gendered Subjects (with M. Culley, Routledge, re-issued 2012); and Screen Memories: the Hungarian Cinema of Márta Mészáros (Indiana, 1993). Her most recent essays appear in Bringing the Dark to Light: the Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe (Nebraska 2013); Companion to Historical Film (Wiley-Blackwell 2013); Cinema's Alchemist: The Films of Péter Forgács (Minnesota 2012); Blackwell Companion to East European Cinema (Wiley-Blackwell 2012); The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema (Brandeis 2012); and Hollywood's Chosen People: The Jewish Experience in American Cinema (2011). She was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for "The Subjective Lens: Post-Holocaust Jewish Identities in Hungarian Cinema;" the Pro Cultura Hungarica Medal for her contributions to Hungarian Cinema (Republic of Hungary, 2009); and the Chancellor's Medal for Distinguished Teaching (2010). She is a frequent keynote lecturer at international conferences and invited programmer, curator, consultant, and delegate for international film series and festivals.

Apr 3, 2013

Reception and Lecture for Gift of Berke Family Collection of Nuremberg Deposition Papers

At 4:00 p.m. there will be a reception and Lecture by Professor Lawrence Douglas of Amherst College to honor Cathy Berke Abrams's gift of The Berke Family Collection of Nuremberg Deposition Papers to the Institute's permanent archive. This collection contains nearly 600 pages of depositions, photos, and German war records gathered by American soldiers and prosecutors as the Allies pushed through Germany in 1945. They include dozens of first-person eye-witness accounts by German soldiers and their commanders of Nazi war-crimes against Jews and other victims of the Third Reich. In his lecture, Professor Douglas (author of The Memory of Judgment, Yale University Press) will discuss the value of these papers for historical understanding of the Holocaust.

Mar 4, 2013

Ilan Stavans Talks About His New Graphic Novel: El Illuminado

Discussion of a compelling mystery of southwestern Spanish secrets. Book signing and reception afterwards.

Dec 5, 2012

Student-docents Training Workshop at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

We're very pleased to announce the second Student-docent Training Workshop from 3:00 to 4:30, at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  In this workshop for high school and university students, we will offer a training session for students interested in learning how to lead their student peers through the Institute’s permanent Holocaust teaching exhibition, “A Reason to Remember: Roth, Germany, 1933-1942." This workshop will introduce students to the exhibition and its origins and will encourage further study and training in order to become student tour facilitators.

Upon completing the session, students will receive a certificate of completion and an invitation to bring their classes and teachers back to the Institute for a tour. Students who earn the certificate should contact their school administrators about receiving credit toward community service.

This workshop is free of charge, and light refreshments will be served. For inquiries and registration, please call 413.835.0221 or send an e-mail to

For further information about the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst and its permanent exhibition, “A Reason to Remember: Roth, Germany, 1933-1942,” please visit: