UNL Professors Join Forces with Press to Publish Contemporary Holocaust Studies Series

The following is from the University of Nebraska Press Spring 2021 newsletter, i.e.

Ari Kohen is a professor of political science, Schlesinger Professor of Social Justice, and director of the Harris Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is the coeditor (with Gerald J. Steinacher) of Unlikely Heroes: The Place of Holocaust Rescuers in Research and Teaching (Nebraska, 2019) and the author of In Defense of Human Rights: A Non-religious Grounding in a Pluralistic WorldGerald J. Steinacher is the James A. Rawley Professor of History at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is the author of Humanitarians at War: The Red Cross in the Shadow of the Holocaust. They are coeditors of the forthcoming book, Antisemitism on the Rise: The 1930s and Today (Nebraska, 2021), which will be published this fall.

UNL professors Gerald Steinacher and Ari Kohen have joined together to edit a new book series, published by the University of Nebraska Press, about the history of the Holocaust, using their research that shows personal narrative as the most impactful way to teach the horrors of the Holocaust.

The books in the series are chosen from the biannual Sommerhauser Symposium, led by Steinacher and Kohen and hosted by UNL since 2015.

“It’s so important to educate a wider audience,” Steinacher said. “I always felt it was my obligation to be a public historian and get our research, our knowledge, out there.” Steinacher regularly teaches a History of the Holocaust course to 150–200 students at UNL. He is constantly looking for ways to have a greater impact on his students and especially on present and future Holocaust educators.

“We want to work with teachers, who are so extremely important as people who can distribute the information to the next generation,” he says.

Their research has become even more significant as recent studies have shown younger generations lack knowledge about the Holocaust and many other genocides. Specifically, a nationwide survey by the Claims Conference suggested that one in ten respondents could not recall the Holocaust ever being mentioned in school. According to the survey, nearly one-third of all Americans and more than four in ten millennials did not know the basic fact that six million Jews were murdered in this genocide.

“Holocaust education is not systematized in the United States, so depending on where you are from, you might learn about it or you might not—it’s a roll of the dice,” Kohen said. “This is one area where we can improve. We’re specifically trying to bring as many high school teachers as we can to the table.”

The first book in the Contemporary Holocaust Studies Series, Unlikely Heroes: The Place of Holocaust Rescuers in Research and Teaching, was published in 2019, and a new book, Antisemitism on the Rise: The 1930s and Today, comes out this fall. Both books were edited by Kohen and Steinacher, and each joins a wide body of UNP work about the history of the Holocaust, including books in the award-winning series Contemporary History of the Holocaust. The Press also co-published How Was It Possible?: A Holocaust Reader, edited by Peter Hayes, with the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous. This book provides teachers and students with important readings about the Nazi persecution of the Jews in World War II.

“We’re honored to be the publisher of many important works that teach the history and lessons of the Holocaust to new generations of students and scholars,” said UNP director Donna Shear. “These times demand that the lessons of the past not be forgotten.”

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