Mobile hosting international Holocaust conference

Alabama Holocaust Commission at the State Capitol

In June, Mobile is hosting a national conference of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, “The Holocaust from the Perspective of Southern Historians.”

The conference, which is open only to members, is being organized by the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education, the Alabama Holocaust Commission and the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center.

The association was established in 1985 to serve as an international network of organizations and individuals for the advancement of Holocaust education, remembrance and research. Member organizations hail from 25 countries and 34 states.

Among the members in the region, aside from the three Alabama groups, are the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, The Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State, the Weinberg Center for Holocaust Education in Atlanta, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, Middle Tennessee State University Holocaust Studies, and nine groups in Texas. Also affiliated is the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University.

The conference runs from June 2 to 5 and is being chaired by Donald Berry of the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education.

There will be gatherings for museum and Holocaust center directors, college and university center directors, and a meeting for State Commissions and Councils will be chaired by Dan Puckett of the Alabama Holocaust Commission.

Puckett will also present a session on “The Holocaust: A View from the Jim Crow South.” Puckett is author of “In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama’s Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust.”

Steven Jacobs, Aaron Aronov Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Alabama, will present “From Barbarism and Vandalism to Genocide: The Unlikely, Untold and Little-Known Story of Raphael Lemkin,” a Jewish lawyer from Poland who coined the term “genocide” around 1943.

Willa Johnson, associate professor of sociology at the University of Mississippi, will present “These Responsibilities and These Rights… Come from God: Monseignuer Saliege’s Plea to Halt Deportations in 1942 France.” She has given this presentation a few times in the state recently, as part of joint programs between the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and historically black colleges, discussing the parallels between the Nuremberg Laws and Jim Crow.

Jeffrey Herf of the University of Maryland is presenting “Racism Without Color: The Historical Specificity of Radical Antisemitism During the Holocaust.”

Kathryn Barbier of Mississippi State University will present on the OSI investigations of Nazi war criminals, and Adam Siepp of Texas A&M will speak about the last death marches from Dachau.

The final session will be “Integrating the Holocaust into Histories of American Racism,” by John Cox of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
There will also be a reception and dinner on the USS Alabama.