The General Raymond E. Mason Jr. Distinguished Lecture on World War II
Louisiana Memorial Pavilion

Omer Bartov, PhD, presents Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz

5:00 p.m. Reception | 6:00 p.m. Presentation | 7:00 p.m. Book Signing

Omer Bartov’s Anatomy of a Genocide is a fascinating and cautionary examination of how genocide can take root at the local level—turning neighbors, friends, and even family members against one another—as seen through the eastern European border town of Buczacz during World War II.

For more than 400 years, the Eastern European border town of Buczacz—today part of Ukraine—was home to a highly diverse citizenry. It was here that Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews all lived side by side in relative harmony. Then came World War II, and three years later, man’s humanity towards one another ceased when the entire Jewish population was murdered by German and Ukrainian police, in addition to the eradication of  Polish residents by Ukrainian nationalists. In truth, though, this genocide didn’t happen so quickly.

In Anatomy of a Genocide, Bartov explains that ethnic cleansing doesn’t occur as is so often portrayed in popular history, with the quick ascent of a vitriolic political leader and the unleashing of military might. It begins in seeming peace, slowly and often unnoticed, the culmination of pent-up slights and grudges and indignities. The perpetrators aren’t just sociopathic soldiers. They are neighbors and friends and family. They are human beings, proud,  angry, and scared. They are also middle-aged men who come from elsewhere, often with their wives and children and parents, and settle into a life of bourgeois comfort peppered with bouts of mass murder.

For more than two decades Bartov, whose mother was raised in Buczacz, traveled extensively throughout the region, scouring archives and amassing thousands of documents rarely seen until now. He has also made use of hundreds of first-person testimonies by victims, perpetrators, collaborators, and rescuers. Anatomy of a Genocide profoundly changes our understanding of the social dynamics of mass killing and the nature of the Holocaust as a whole. Bartov’s presentation will bring to light that  understanding these atrocities isn’t just an attempt to understand what happened in the past, but that it serves as a warning of how it could happen again, in our own towns and cities—much more easily than we might think. 

The reception and presentation are free and open to the public, and brought to you by the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy.

For more information or to register, call 504-528-1944 x 412.

Omer Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University. He is also the author of several other well-respected scholarly works on the Holocaust and genocide, including Germany’s War and the Holocaust: Disputed Histories and Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine. He has written for The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and The New York Times Book Review.

Time: 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

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