Left to right: Yad Vashem Chief Historian Prof. Dina Porat, Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research and John Najmann Chair for Holocaust Studies Prof. Dan Michman, donor Sabina, prize-winner Prof. Johann Chapoutot
Prof. Chapoutot delivered the main address on the National Socialist worldview that led to the unprecedented crimes of the Nazi regime
21 December 2015
The 2015 Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research was awarded today to Prof. Johann Chapoutot, Full Professor of Contemporary History at the Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris III. The prize was awarded for his book, La loi du sang. Penser et agir en nazi [The Law of Blood. Thinking and Acting the Nazi Way] - published BY NRF Gallimard in Paris last year.
In her opening remarks, Yad Vashem Chief Historian Prof. Dina Porat paid tribute to Holocaust survivor Abraham Meir Schwarzbaum, and his family members who were murdered in the Holocaust, in whose names the Book Prize is dedicated. Prof. Dan Michman, Head of Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research and Incumbent of the John Najmann Chair for Holocaust Studies, delivered the judges' considerations. Among the comments, he noted: "Within the vast literature describing and analyzing the criminal deeds of the Third Reich and the ideologies that motivated the perpetrators, few studies have attempted to decipher the underlying behavioral codes and norms of National Socialism [...] Prof. Chapoutot is able to clarify the central place of the anti-Jewish campaign - the Shoah - in Nazism, emphasizing that it is in fact impossible to fully grasp Nazism without it. His study is a fine product of a younger group of scholars of Nazism and the Shoah working in France, and it will hopefully promote awareness and inspire more research."
Prof. Chapoutot gave the main address, entitled "The Jews and 'Nature' in the National-Socialist Weltanschauung." Describing the historic tradition of antisemitism in Europe inherited by the Nazi regime, Prof. Chapoutot explained that ideology is "not a mere accumulation of empty or absurd slogans. It is [...] a way to view the past, project into future and organize the present." The ideology of "nature" adopted by the Nazis was translated into policy, and led to the need to destroy anything considered against or dangerous to nature - i.e., the Jewish people.
"Actions were possible because ideas gave meaning to them," said Prof. Chapoutot. "The Shoah was the result of a collision between text (those ideas) and contexts" - the situation that Germany had found itself in the late 1920s that led to the Nazi rise to power.
Together with Israeli-American musician Yirmi Kaplan, prize donor and vocalist Sabina performed two musical interludes during the ceremony.
In addition to the winner of the book prize, there were also two honorable mentions, Victims and Survivors of Nazi Human Experiment by Prof. Paul Weindling and Der Rote Hiob. Das Leben des Werner Scholem by Prof. Miriam Zadoff.
Members of the 2015 Yad Vashem Book Prize Committee are international scholars in the area of Holocaust Research and include: Prof. Wendy Lower (Claremont McKenna College, USA); Prof. Dan Michman; Dr. Iael Nidam-Orvieto, Director of Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research; Prof. Dina Porat; Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate; and Prof. Annette Wieviorka (CNRS, France).