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The International School for Holocaust Studies

The Proceedings of “Holocaust Research in Context: The Emergence of Centers and Approaches”

A Conference Organized by the International Institute for Holocaust Research


On November 21-24, 2004, the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem held an international conference entitled: “Holocaust Research in Context: The Emergence of Research Centers and Approaches.” This conference was a part of the events marking Yad Vashem’s 50th anniversary, and it examined aspects of Holocaust research since after WWII. The conference was convened through the generous support of the Gertner Center for International Holocaust Conferences.

Unlike previous historical conferences at Yad Vashem that focused on aspects of the destruction of European Jewry during WWII, this conference examined the status of Holocaust research and Holocaust research centers that have emerged around the world since WWII. The conference placed special emphasis on Yad Vashem’s role in establishing and developing other Holocaust research centers over the past half century. Researchers from the Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, Poland, Russia, and the United States presented at the conference.

Professor Gerhard Weinberg delivered the keynote address on “Two Separate Issues? Historiography of World War II and the Holocaust.” Professor Weinberg, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is at the forefront of research on military aspects on WWII.

The conference also featured a special session called: “Who was Responsible for the Holocaust: Hitler or the Germans?” This session marked the publication of Christopher Browning’s The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evaluation of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 (published by Yad Vashem in association with the University of Nebraska Press). Professor Christopher Browning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Professor Omer Bartov from Brown University, Professor Ulrich Herbert from the University of Freiburg, and Dr. Jürgen Matthäus from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. participated in this session.

There were also discussions at the conference on the role of survivor testimonies in shaping the image of the Holocaust in historical research, trials, and Holocaust literature.

During the Holocaust and its aftermath, diverse academic research began to emerge on the topic of the Holocaust. Some scholars contend that the Holocaust cannot be explained in human terms, whereas others recognize that the events of the Holocaust need to be explained according to normal categories of human behavior.

This conference highlighted the development of Holocaust research, and a variety of related geographical, generational and political issues, and other challenges.

In recent years, a number of books have been published on Holocaust historiography in general, and on Holocaust research in Germany and the State of Israel and its implications for collective memory in those countries in particular. Considering our heightened awareness of issues of historical representation, this conference convened leading experts in the field and shed light on many trends.