Professor’s research takes holistic look at Holocaust
By Harold Lee
April 28, 2003 9:00 pm
While many people set today aside to remember the victims of the
Holocaust, researchers from UCLA, the community and the University
of California system are piecing together the genocide and
researching how the human tragedy still affects people today.
Professor Saul Friedlander ““ a noted Holocaust historian
and survivor ““ is currently working on “Nazi Germany
and the Jews: The Years of Extermination,” a treatise which
documents the Holocaust from 1939 to 1945.
“The Years of Extermination,” which will be
published two years from now, is the second of a two-part narrative
of the Holocaust.
The first volume, “Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of
Persecution” was published in 1997 and explores the events
that led to the Holocaust from 1933 to 1939.
“What I’m trying to do is integrate different levels
of historical understanding of the events into one single
narration,” Friedlander said. “It has never been done
The second volume will encompass various aspects of the
Holocaust and will not only examine German policy, but European and
American policies during World War II, Friedlander said.
“I’m trying to bring together the political, social
and ideological analysis with the experience of everyday life as
expressed by victims,” he said.
“The Years of Extermination” will draw from new
sources that were previously locked up in Soviet archives prior to
the fall of the Soviet Union as well as diaries kept by the Jewish
population, Friedlander said.
Friedlander said there are approximately 400 diaries kept by
Jewish victims, written in a variety of languages.
Research has also been done concerning teaching of Holocaust
history in the German school system since 1945.
Harold Marcuse, a UC Santa Barbara professor of modern German
history, has studied how German teenagers and adults have come to
know the Holocaust.
“We study German history textbooks and talk to past
students and adults and ask how they learned about the Holocaust
and what they remember from the places they visited, the books they
read, and the films they saw,” said Marcuse.
“It’s called “˜reception
Marcuse has also done research comparing American and German
education of the Holocaust.
He has gathered undergraduate history students to interview
local high school students to gauge their Holocaust knowledge.
In comparison to how American students learn about the
Holocaust, German students have a “more intense
education” of the genocide, Marcuse said.
“They certainly learn more about the Nazi period and read
more graphic works than kids in the U.S.,” he said
“There is a certain curriculum that teachers are mandated to
Different aspects of the Holocaust are emphasized in German
schools which are not as highlighted in American schools.
According to Marcuse, German teaching of the subject focuses
more on the political history and the rise of Nazism, though
students do have a chance to visit concentration camps.
“German education about the Holocaust tends to include
fewer individual accounts than treatments in U.S. schools. It is
more analytical and less emotional,” said Marcuse.
Some academics pursue research of the Holocaust for activist
The Simon Wiesenthal Center in West Los Angeles does research to
track down Nazi war criminals involved in the mass murder of
civilians, and also to combat Holocaust revisionists, who downplay
or deny the Holocaust.
Currently, the Wiesenthal Center is working on Operation Last
Chance, a program that seeks to track down fascists and Nazi
sympathizers from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia who aided the Nazis
when they invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, said Rabbi Abraham
Cooper, associate dean at the Wiesenthal Center.
Cooper said the Nazi sympathizers helped kill Jewish citizens
and Communist officials. For their help, some were made into Nazi
death camp guards.
Many immigrated to the United States, Canada and Australia under
their real names and were not punished because they fought against
Communists, Cooper added.
When the Wiesenthal Center finds sufficient evidence, it turns
over its findings to foreign governments who can punish war
“(War criminals) can have citizenship stripped if they
were involved in the murder of innocent civilians,” Cooper
The Wiesenthal Center has had volunteers from UCLA work as
Internet researchers, said Cooper.