Americans now learn about the Holocaust in high school, watch films about it on television, and visit museums dedicated to preserving its memory. But for the first two decades following the end of World War II, discussion of the destruction of European Jewry was generally seen as irrelevant to non-Jewish Americans. My book Reluctant Witnesses mixes memoir, history, and sociological analysis. It tells the story of the rise of Holocaust consciousness from the perspective of survivors and descendants. I will talk about my efforts to excavate my family’s hidden past, how descendants often became narrators of their family histories, and why, at a time of renewed rightwing nationalism, it is particularly important to keep these memories alive.
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Arlene Stein is a professor of sociology at Rutgers University, and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She is the author of Reluctant Witnesses: Survivors, Their Children, and the Rise of Holocaust Consciousness (Oxford 2014). Her previous books include The Stranger Next Door, which documents a battle over gay/lesbian rights in a small town, and the rise of religious conservatism. At Rutgers she is the director of the Institute for Research on Women.
Dr. Stein will remain after the conclusion of the program to facilitate discussion.
The program will run approximately 90 minutes and will also include a brief history of the Holocaust and a candle lighting ceremony.