Past Programs & Events

Apr 2, 2014

Ladies Tailor

1990, dir. Leonid Horowitz, 92 min.

Ladies Tailor is set in Kiev, on the eve of the mass execution on September 29, 1941 in Babi Yar. An old Jewish tailor Isaac (famous Soviet actor Innokentii Smoktunovskii) joins his family in their soon-to-be-lost home, and the film chronicles the last twenty-four hours in their lives.  The violence is never fully depicted on screen and the night is almost mundane: the family members pack, bake cookies for the road, argue and reminisce about the past. Yet, what appears to be a simple story emerges as an intense drama raising complex and terrifying questions about the fate of the Jews under Nazi and Soviet tyranny. Introduced and discussed by Olga Gershenson, author of “The Phantom Holocaust.”

Mar 26, 2014

Student-Docent Training Workshop

We are pleased to announce another Student-docent Training Workshop at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies located on 758 North Pleasant Street, Amherst 01002. This workshop will be held on Wednesday, March 26th from 3:00-4:00, and is offered to high school and university students. Students who are interested in attending will learn 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 encourage discussion about the exhibition and its message. We hope that the worksop will encourage further study and training in order to become student tour facilitators.

Upon finishing 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. The training can also be a unique addition to the college applications of high school students.

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 We hope you will join us!

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:

Feb 4, 2014


1967/1988, dir. Alexander Askoldov, 110 min

One of the most striking films of Khrushchev's Thaw, Commissar was banned in the Soviet Union for its expression of overt sympathy for the Jews who were persecuted during the Russian Civil War. The most controversial part of the film is a scene depicting the future Holocaust to come, as envisioned by a Russian commissar woman. Askoldov's brilliant cinematography, influenced by Soviet masters of the silent film, uses subjective camera to create arresting black-and-white images that made Commissar into one of the best known Soviet masterpieces.  Introduced and discussed by Olga Gershenson, author of “The Phantom Holocaust.”

Nov 19, 2013

Goodbye, Boys

1964/1966, dir. Mikhail Kalik

In the lazy summer days of the late 1930s, three teenage friends roam the streets of the small Russian seaside town as their youth slips away and World War II looms. The boys, one of whom is Jewish, optimistically look forward to their military careers, getting away from overprotective parents, and becoming heroes. However, in the course of the film, it becomes clear to us that the inexperienced idealists will be sent off to the front lines where they will encounter horror and tragedy. To tell this story, Mikhail Kalik a filmmaker of Goodbye, Boys!, used excerpts from other films, fictional and documentary, to function as flash-forwards to the war and the Holocaust. In Western Holocaust films flashbacks are common for depicting trauma, but flash-forward was Kalik’s remarkable innovation.  Introduced and discussed by Olga Gershenson, author of “The Phantom Holocaust.”

Oct 17, 2013

School Pictures in Liquid Time Assimilation, Exclusion, Resistance


Photographs of school classes appear very early in the history of photography and are pervasive in individual and family albums throughout the world.  Despite their ubiquity as potent media for recall and memorialization, class photos have received little critical attention.  This talk examines the ideological deployment as well as the historical, memorial, and aesthetic dimensions of class photographs as a vernacular genre.  Reflecting specifically at the process of exclusion of Jews in 20th century Central Europe, it looks at school pictures taken in the 1920’s and 30s, as well as in sanctioned and clandestine schools – some, in ghettos and camps – in the years of the Holocaust.  It analyzes both historical images and critical re-framings by contemporary artists who expose photography’s ideological role within political climates that shifted from emancipation and integration to exclusion, persecution and genocide. 
A light reception will follow.  


MARIANNE HIRSCH is William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and Professor in the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She is President of the Modern Language Association of America. Hirsch's recent books include The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust (Columbia University Press, 2012), Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory, co-authored with Leo Spitzer(University of California Press, 2010), Rites of Return: Diaspora, Poetics and the Politics of Memory, co-edited with Nancy K. Miller (Columbia University Press, 2011). With Diana Taylor she co-edited the Summer 2012 issue of é-misferica on “The Subject of Archives.” Other recent publications include Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory (1997), The Familial Gaze (ed.1999), a special issue of Signs on "Gender and Cultural Memory" (co-ed. 2002), and Teaching the Representation of the Holocaust (co-ed. 2004. Hirsch is one of the founders of Columbia’s Center for the Study of Social Difference

LEO SPITZER is the Vernon Professor of History Emeritus at Dartmouth College. The recipient of numerous fellowships, including a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and a National Humanities Center award, he writes on photography, testimony, and Jewish refugee memory and its transmission.  His most recent book, co-authored with Marianne Hirsch, is Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory.  He is also the author of Hotel Bolivia: The Culture of Memory in a Refuge from Nazism (Hill & Wang, 1998); Lives in Between: Assimilation and Marginality in Austria, Brazil and West Africa (Hill & Wang, 1999); The Creoles of Sierra Leone: Responses to Colonialism(Wisconsin, 1974); and co-editor, with Mieke Bal and Jonathan Crewe, of Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present (UPNE, 1999).  He is currently working on The Americanization of Poldi, a memoir about Jewish refugee immigration and acculturation in New York in the 1950s and, with Marianne Hirsch, on a book of essays on school photos.