Virtual Symposium: A Nazi Killing Center through a Perpetrator’s Lens: The Sobibor Perpetrator Collection
March 1, 2023
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Bildungswerk Stanisław Hantz
Ludwigsburg Research Center, University of Stuttgart
The Sobibor Perpetrator Collection provides an unprecedented view into the operations of one of the five killing centers Nazi Germany established for the sole purpose of murdering Jews. Created by the Sobibor camp’s deputy commandant, Johann Niemann, this large collection of recently discovered documents and photographs shows in new and vivid detail the topography of the killing center, which was located in German-occupied Poland and in operation from April 1942 until November 1943. The collection also illuminates interactions among the camp’s SS staff and between the SS and auxiliary guards, as well as the role of women, including perpetrators’ wives and local female civilians.
The subject of a new book published by Indiana University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, From “Euthanasia” to Sobibor: An SS-Officer's Photo Collection, the Sobibor Perpetrator Collection opens new vistas on one of the most crucial chapters of the Holocaust.
Scholars will present the new insights the collection affords into the workings of Sobibor and the wider networks of perpetrators that spanned the so-called Euthanasia Program, other concentration camps, and Operation Reinhard in the implementation of the Final Solution, and address the implications of the collection for research and teaching about the Holocaust.
This program will be held via Zoom and is free and open to the public. Please register here.
Information on the collection is available at ushmm.org/sobibor-perpetrators.
10am EST | 16h CET
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Edna Friedberg, Historian, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Jürgen Matthäus, Director, Applied Research, Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Tagan Engel, Granddaughter of Selma and Chaim Engel
Session I: Introduction to the Sobibor Perpetrator Collection
Moderator: Anatol Steck, Senior Project Director, International Archival Programs, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Approaching the Sobibor Perpetrator Collection
Martin Cüppers, Head, Ludwigsburg Research Center, University of Stuttgart
Coworkers not Comrades: The Case of the Trawniki Men
Kimberly Allar, Independent Scholar and 2013–14 Ben and Zelda Cohen Fellow
Forgotten Places of the Holocaust: Bełzec and Sobibór in the Aftermath
Steffen Hänschen, Staff Scholar, Bildungswerk Stanisław Hantz
11:00 am EST | 17h CET
11:15 am EST | 17h15 CET
Session II: The Sobibor Perpetrator Collection from the Perspectives of Perpetrators and Victims
Moderator: Patricia Heberer Rice, Senior Historian, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
“It was the humiliation that hurt us the most”: The Deportation of Dutch Jews to Sobibor
Katja Happe, Director, KZ-Gedenk- und Begegnungsstätte Ladelund
Sobibor Reflected in Testimony and Visual Sources
Anne Lepper, International School for Holocaust Studies Yad Vashem, Representative of the German-speaking countries Section; Staff Scholar, Bildungswerk Stanisław Hantz; and Former Institute for Contemporary History-Munich Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Exchange Scholar
Euthanasia, Aktion Reinhard, and Johann Niemann in the Sobibor Perpetrator Collection
Andreas Kahrs, Staff Scholar, Bildungswerk Stanisław Hantz
Rebecca Boehling, Director, David M. Rubenstein National Institute for Holocaust Documentation, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Lisa Leff, Director, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Close at 12:30 pm EST | 18h30 CET
This symposium has been made possible by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Bildungswerk Stanisław Hantz, and the Ludwigsburg Research Center at the University of Stuttgart. The publication of From “Euthanasia” to Sobibor: An SS-Officer's Photo Collection has been made possible in part by the generous support of the Stichting Sobibor / Sobibor Foundation, Amsterdam.
The organizers thank Semyon Rosenfeld and Selma Engel for their invaluable contributions to the research on the Sobibor Perpetrator Collection. This program is dedicated to them.
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center’s mission is to ensure the long-term growth and vitality of Holocaust Studies. To do that, it is essential to provide opportunities for new generations of scholars. The vitality and the integrity of Holocaust Studies requires openness, independence, and free inquiry so that new ideas are generated and tested through peer review and public debate. The opinions of scholars expressed before, during the course of, or after their activities with the Mandel Center do not represent and are not endorsed by the Museum or its Mandel Center.