UVM's Hilberg Subject of Major Academic Conference in Berlin on 10th Anniversary of His Death
Longtime UVM Professor a Towering Figure in Holocaust Studies
- By Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Raul Hilberg, a towering figure in the field of Holocaust Studies who taught political science at the University of Vermont for 36 years, will be the subject of a three-day academic conference October 18-20 in Berlin on the tenth anniversary of his death.
UVM’s Miller Center for Holocaust Studies is one of the conference’s sponsors, along with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and several high-profile German research institutes. The conference is being hosted by the Center for Research in Contemporary History of Potsdam, Germany.
The conference, which has attracted nearly 40 of the world’s foremost Holocaust scholars from seven countries, will examine the personal and intellectual influences that shaped Hilberg’s scholarship and explore its continuing influence, especially the impact of his most important work, The Destruction of the European Jews, still a fundamental text six decades after its publication in 1961.
“The Miller Center is proud and honored to have this opportunity to co-sponsor and participate in this important international meeting of Holocaust scholars dedicated to UVM’s own Raul Hilberg, who remains the single indispensable scholar of the Holocaust,” said Alan Steinweis, director of the Miller Center for Holocaust Studies.
"Ten years after the death of Raul Hilberg, the conference aims to explore his influence on the history of Holocaust scholarship and analyze his legacy for the future of the field,” said René Schlott, a scholar at the Center for Research in Contemporary History. “Young researchers, eminent scholars, friends and colleagues will explore the life and work of this pioneering scholar, who launched an entire discipline. The intention of this unique encounter of international scholars will be to rediscover Hilberg’s magnum opus, The Destruction of the European Jews, and to explore the impulse behind the historiography of the Holocaust."
Hilberg’s masterwork was the first to show the methodical, bureaucratic nature of the program of genocide against the Jews, Steinweis said.
“He showed that it was a kind of national program of the German Reich and, in so doing, demonstrated the breadth of institutions and individuals in Germany who were involved, including a large number of people who were not hands-on killers but who were participants in a process of destruction.”
Hilberg joined the University of Vermont Political Science Department in 1955, eventually serving as chair. He was appointed emeritus professor when he retired in 1991. In 2006, the university established the Raul Hilberg Distinguished Professorship of Holocaust Studies. Each year the Miller Center for Holocaust Studies hosts the Raul Hilberg Memorial Lecture.
This year’s lecture – Getting It Right, Getting It Wrong: Recent Holocaust Scholarship in Light of the Work of Raul Hilberg – will be presented on October 24 from 7 to 9 by Dan Michman from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. The event will take place in Memorial Lounge, Waterman Building 338, on the University of Vermont campus.