WATCH: “Russia, Europe and the Holocaust – History, Human Rights and National Identity” -Page Herrlinger
Approximately one million Holocaust victims were murdered on Nazi-occupied Soviet soil, yet Soviet and Russian narratives of the Great Patriotic War have traditionally focused on the collective experience of the Soviet people as “victims of fascism,” in effect covering up the unique suffering of the Jewish people. As a result, many Russians today know very little about the Holocaust. Putin’s participation in recent Holocaust commemoration events indicates a shift in official policy, however. What is the meaning of this change? What do contemporary historical practices and memory politics related to the Russian experience in WWII reveal about the construction of national identity in Russia today? What do they tell us about Russia’s approach towards human rights and other democratic practices, including freedom of speech, information, and research? And what does Russia’s evolving approach to the Holocaust suggest about its current relationship to Europe? In an effort to shed light on these questions, this talk will explore Russia’s record on the Holocaust within the context of Western and Eastern European Holocaust narratives and commemorations.
Page Herrlinger is Associate Professor of History at Bowdoin College, where she has taught since 1998; her courses include Modern Russia and the Soviet Union, Germany, 1918-1945, and the Holocaust. She received her B.A. at Yale and her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, and her research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Philosophical Society. She is currently co-director of an NEH summer seminar for middle and high school teachers, “Teaching the Holocaust through Visual Culture”.