CfA: 2020 Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar: Between Enemy Combatant and Racial ‘Other’: Nazi Persecution of Soviet POWs

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The Jack, Joseph, and Monton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) announces the 2020 Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar: Between Enemy Combatant and Racial ‘Other’: Nazi Persecution of Soviet POWs. This year’s Seminar will explore Soviet prisoners of war (POWs) as one of the many victim groups that the Nazis deliberately persecuted in their campaign on the Eastern Front. Among other topics, we will discuss the various facets of the Nazis’ policies toward Soviet POWs, including the use of mass-starvation tactics, forced labor, and mass executions. Emphasis will be placed on the Nazis’ treatment of Soviet POWs within the larger context of the Third Reich’s race policies, the war of annihilation in the East, and the Holocaust. The Seminar will also examine the challenges faced by POW survivors who were repatriated to the Soviet Union after the end of World War II. 

Over the course of the Hess Seminar, participants will be introduced to a range of the USHMM’s tools, resources, and collections that can be integrated into course syllabi and used to facilitate in-class activities. Participants will also gain familiarity with approaches to teaching the controversies and debates that have dominated the scholarship on this particular victim group and that continue to shape the ways in which they are represented, memorialized, and remembered today. Finally, the Seminar will provide participants with the opportunity to discuss pedagogical approaches and techniques for teaching the history of Soviet POWs within comparative, transnational, and interdisciplinary frameworks.

Seminar Leaders:  

Jeff Rutherford, Professor of History, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio

Edward Westermann, Professor of History, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas

The seminar will take place from January 6 to 10, 2020 at the USHMM in Washington, DC. For non-local participants, the Mandel Center will defray the cost of travel and lodging. Applications are welcomed from faculty across academic disciplines including but not limited to: language studies, film studies, war studies, displaced people and refugee studies, anthropology, sociology, history, literature, and international law. We also particularly welcome scholars who teach courses with a global, comparative, or transnational approach and are interested in incorporating materials on the experiences of Soviet POWs during the Second World War. While the Seminar’s focus will be on Nazi persecution of this particular victim group, the Seminar’s themes, approaches, and methods are intended to be useful for faculty who teach related topics across geographic regions and time periods. 

 Applications must be received in electronic form no later than Friday, November 1, 2019. The full CfA and the application form are available on the USHMM website: questions regarding the application process, contact

This Seminar is endowed by Edward and David Hess in memory of their parents, Jack and Anita Hess, who believed passionately in the power of education to overcome racial and religious prejudice.