As many as 400 colleges and universities teach courses on the Holocaust. Each year new books and articles are published. But is this enough to explain one of the most evil events in the past century?
An answer will come when Case Western Reserve University's Rosenthal Visiting Fellow David Silberklang, a lecturer of Jewish history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, presents "What Don't We Know? Unanswered Questions from the Holocaust." The free, public talk begins at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7, in the 1914 Lounge of Thwing Center, 11111 Euclid Ave., on the Case campus.
"While we know very much, we actually know very little, as I hope to demonstrate in my talk," says Silberklang.
He adds that people discuss, remember and commemorate the event in history, but "the substance of the subject is not as well known as we might think."
The study of the Holocaust is at the center of Silberklang's research as editor-in-chief of Yad Vashem Studies, a flagship journal on the Holocaust published in English and Hebrew; editor of the Holocaust Survivors' Memoir Project; and lecturer in Jewish history at Hebrew University's Rothberg International School where he teaches such courses as "Issues in the Study of the Holocaust" and "Contemporary Perspectives on the Holocaust." He is also the author of Gates
of Tears, about the Holocaust ghetto in the Lubin District of Poland.
"The Holocaust is the first case in modern history of an attempt by one people to annihilate totally every single member of another people wherever they may be in the world," explains Silberklang, the son of parents who survived the Holocaust that resulted in the death of six million people.
He says the murders knew no borders, and "in that sense, and in many ways, the Holocaust is perhaps the most extreme example of absolute evil and genocide."
"This is what shakes the foundation of modern civilization today," he adds.
Since his childhood in Brooklyn, New York, Silberklang has had an interest in history. "From an early age, I had a sense that the Holocaust was a major event that still impacted on all of humanity and had to be studied or explained completely," he says.
He adds that that "childhood gut sense" proved right.
As each year passes, the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles.
To record their experiences, Silberklang edits both the scholarly Yad Vashem Studies journal in English and Hebrew as well as the memoir series, supported by a grant from Random House publishers to Elie Wiesel.
Since its founding several years ago, the memoir project has received nearly 1,000 manuscripts. "This is far beyond what anyone had imaged at the time," Silberklang says.
Since Yad Yashem began partnering with the project, 12 memoirs in seven books have been published with an additional seven in six books slated in the next 15 months and some 150 manuscripts submitted for consideration for publication.
Silberklang says the goal is to publish as many memoirs as possible: "We want their stories told."
As a Rosenthal Fellow at Case, Silberklang will continue teaching the Holocaust through courses offered by the history and religion departments called "Issues in the Study of the Holocaust" and a SAGES (Seminar Approach to General Education and Scholarship) class, "Being Human in the Holocaust," which will address five basic subjects that relate to understanding human behavior during the Holocaust.
Silberklang also will participate in the international Annual Scholars' Conference on the Holocaust, which will take place in Cleveland, March 11-13.
Free and open to the public event, the February 7 event is sponsored by the Samuel Rosenthal Center for Judaic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. For more information, call 216-368-8961 or visit their Web site, where you may also read an interview with Dr. Silberklang.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.