Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies News
Dr. David Patterson, professor of literature and history and Hillel A. Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies, has been appointed to the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission.
The commission was established 10 years ago to ensure that resources about the Holocaust and other genocides are available to students, educators and the public.
“The sense of urgency about awareness of what happened in the Holocaust and why it matters is growing,” Patterson said. “It’s in the interest of citizens and the culture to examine the ethical question of what makes another human being matter. That’s something we are prone to forget or ignore.”
The Texas Legislature created the commission in 2009. Since then, its staff and volunteers have worked on projects to meet the commission’s mission, including educating hundreds of Texas teachers through regional live workshops, developing an online digital library for educators, and recording the audio and visual oral histories of 19 Texans who helped liberate concentration camps.
Patterson, who previously served on the Tennessee State Holocaust Commission, is filling an incomplete term on the Texas commission, which ends in February 2021.
The tale begins in 1962 when Ozsváth and her late husband, Dr. Istvan Ozsváth, stepped out for supper with some friends in Hamburg, Germany.
When they arrived at the establishment, the group noticed that many of the tables and chairs were stacked to the side. The room, uncrowded when they arrived, swelled with more and more people as the evening went on.
“Suddenly four guys came up on stage,” Ozsváth recalled. “They didn’t look very clever.”
To Ozsváth, a classically trained pianist, the band’s rock ’n’ roll style was like oil is to water. The dinner party soon left in search of a quieter place.
“We were having such a wonderful discussion,” she said, “but we couldn’t talk, and we couldn’t hear one another because of the unbearable music that was playing.”
Fast forward a few years.
“We had just bought a television. I was in the other room and suddenly Pista [her husband] calls me in to see a band playing on a program,” Ozsváth said. “It was the band we saw at the restaurant.”
A guest soon arrived for coffee and conversation, and Ozsváth asked about the band playing. The friend paused and said, “Well, they’re the Beatles.”
The UT Dallas Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies will welcome some of the world’s foremost Holocaust scholars, theologians and survivors for the 48th Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches on March 3-5.
The collection of experts will share their findings in hopes that the lessons of the Holocaust will remain relevant. Dr. Nils Roemer, director of the Ackerman Center, said the conference focuses on being interfaith, interdisciplinary and international.
“It will be an open environment in which scholars and PhD students join in a conversation and create a community of like-minded individuals who pursue similar things,” said Roemer, the Stan and Barbara Rabin Professor in Holocaust Studies. “We also are bringing together people of various backgrounds to discuss the Holocaust from historical, philosophical and theological perspectives.”
This year’s conference will feature three tracks: The Holocaust: History and Pedagogy; Faith, Memory, and Responsibility; and Philosophy and Aesthetics. Roemer said the conference will include discussions about responsibility for the Holocaust.
The keynote speaker on Sunday, March 4, will be Dr. Irene Hasenberg Butter, a well-known peace activist and Holocaust survivor. Butter, professor emerita of public health at the University of Michigan, is a frequent inspirational speaker who shares her experience during World War II and stresses the importance of never being a bystander and that one person can make a difference.
Faculty members who are also published authors were the focus of a recent McDermott Library celebration. The 6th Annual Faculty Author Reception recognized 16 writers and nine editors of books published during the last academic year.
Dr. David Patterson (left) celebrates publication of his book A Genealogy of Evil: Anti-Semitism from Nazism to Islamic Jihad with Dr. Susan Chizeck and Dr. William Pervin.
Dr. Nils Roemer, a professor of historical studies in the School of Arts and Humanities, had the busiest publishing year. He wrote German City, Jewish Memory: The Story of Worms and co-edited two other volumes –Crossing the Atlantic: Travel and Writing in Modern Times and Jewish Longings and Belongings in Modern European Consumer Culture.
Other recognized books ranged from strategies in chess education to the Western stories of Ned Buntline.
Dr. Adrienne McLean, professor of film studies, was the editor of Glamour in a Golden Age: Movie Stars of the 1930s. She was also the series editor for nine other volumes in the Star Decades series published by Rutgers University Press.
Dr. Alex Piquero, shown with his wife and colleague, Dr. Nicole Leeper Piquero, was honored as the co-editor of the Handbook of Quantitative Criminology.
“The diversity of our faculty is shown in the wide range of subjects for which they publish each year,” said Dr. Ellen Safley, director of libraries, who organized the reception in cooperation with Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal.
“We enjoy recognizing their significant commitment to scholarship. We are proud to add these publications to our collection.”
As in past receptions, the authors and editors were showcased in a gallery of framed posters.
Included in the festivities were faculty members who were promoted from assistant professor without tenure to associate professor with tenure – a milestone in a professor’s career. The newly tenured professors are invited to select books that have been meaningful to them, either professionally or personally, to be added to the library’s collection.
The reception was held Thursday, Oct. 13, in the McDermott Suite of the Eugene McDermott Library.
Generous support from several donors recently helped furnish the new home of the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies. The new center contains a media room, a secondary site for the Arnold A. Jaffe Holocaust Library Collection and a computer lab—all of which make studying one of the most important and tragic periods in history more accessible.
Funds raised by the Ackerman Center’s Advisory Council furnished the offices in the Erik Jonsson Building with everything from video screens and artwork to couches and conference tables.
“Our advocates have equipped us with resources and tools so that we can foster learning, and make a significant impact on our students and the field of Holocaust Studies,” said Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, who holds the Leah and Paul Lewis Chair in Holocaust Studies, which was established by Mimi Lewis Barnett and Mitchell Barnett in honor of Mimi’s parents.
Several hundred supporters attended the center’s recent debut of its facility. The new space marks the first time that all of the center’s professors and staff will be housed under one roof.
“The Ackerman Center is important because it provides a welcoming space for students of all disciplines and all faiths to study, reflect and work together for a brighter future for all,” said Steve Leonard BA’10, who is currently pursuing his teacher certification through the UT Dallas Teacher Development Center.
For the hundreds of students enrolled in Holocaust and Jewish studies classes, the new offices mean they have a place to study alongside their professors. “The suite provides us with the opportunity to assist students with their research,” said Dr. Debbie Pfister, center director. “It’s an opportunity to provide hands-on learning.”
The Ackerman Center was created through a gift from the Edward and Wilhelmina Ackerman Foundation. Center highlights include the Selwin Belofsky Fellowship; the Burton C. Einspruch Holocaust Lecture Series; the Hillel Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies; the Jaffe Book Collection; the Leah and Paul Lewis Chair in Holocaust Studies; and the Stan and Barbara Rabin Professorship in Holocaust Studies. For more information, visit the center’s website.
The Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies has moved into a new home on the UT Dallas campus. Their new suite, on the 4th floor of the Jonsson Academic Center, hosts a media room, computer lab and lending library, which is “always full of students studying,” according to Pfister.
On Sunday, April 3, at 4 p.m., the Ackerman Center will host an open house to showcase the new surroundings. This event, held in the Arts and Humanities Foyer on the 4th floor of the Jonsson Academic Center, is open to the public – please RSVP to [email protected].
Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth was interviewed on KERA’s “THINK” program on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010. She was promoting her new book, When the Danube Ran Red, an extraordinary and moving account of Ozsváth’s own experience of the Holocaust. Tune in to 90.1 FM to hear her interview! Click here to listen