The systematic persecution and murder of over six million Jews and other groups by the Nazis and their collaborators during the 1930s and 1940s is one of humankind’s greatest tragedies. The Holocaust was so unprecedented in modern human history that Raphael Lemkin coined the word genocide to describe these atrocities. Though not the first such event in the 20th century, the Holocaust has reframed the way in which people understand other genocides, such as the massacre of Armenians during the First World War and the slaughter of well over a million Africans in the last several decades.
The Holocaust Studies Initiative creates strong and unique collections to advance knowledge and teaching; applies lessons from the Holocaust to build empathy and understanding between cultures; gives voice to survivors and their children to end the effects of trauma, which often are passed from one generation to the next; relates lessons from the Holocaust to current events in order to identify and prevent the forms of persecution that can lead ultimately to genocide; and builds partnerships worldwide to share expertise and learn from other about teaching the Holocaust and other genocides.
What does the world know about the Armenian Genocide? Does your neighbor understand the historical events that scattered generations of Armenians worldwide? An understanding of Armenians and their place in history is critical in learning its lessons. For example, few realize that Adolf Hitler reportedly drew from the Armenian Genocide to justify his maniacal intentions in 1939. Genocide is the greatest scourge of the 20th and 21st centuries: one that can be addressed by giving voice to the silence.
The Armenian Studies Initiative builds research collections in English, Armenian, and other languages; teaches about Armenian history and culture; positions Armenia squarely in the historical and policy debates about genocide and its prevention; engages with the Armenian community, especially in the southeastern U.S.; and enhances intercultural dialogue about the shared experiences of the survivors of oppression and attempted annihilation.
The African Great Lakes Region
The painful legacy of genocide in Europe and East Asia now affects East Africa. Hard lessons learned during the Second World War failed to prevent the horrors experienced in Cambodia or Bosnia. For survivors of genocide and crimes against humanity in Rwanda, Darfur, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, the effects also linger. Communities coping with the aftermath of genocide have much to offer researchers, teachers, and mental health professionals. Yet challenges remain for future generations.
The African Great Lakes Initiative creates distinct collections to advance knowledge and teaching; applies lessons from East Africa to build empathy and understanding between cultures; positions conflict in the African Great Lakes region squarely in the historical and policy debates about genocide and its prevention; and relates lessons from East Africa to current events in order to identify and prevent the forms of persecution that can lead ultimately to genocide.