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Balzan Bystanding Project

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Bystanding. Mehrheitsgesellschaften im Holocaust und danach
Symposium zu Ehren von Saul Friedländer, Balzan Preisträger 2021, 14.10.2022

Weitere Informationen (Link)

Programm (pdf)

Picture of Saul Friedländer

In 2021, Saul Friedländer won the prestigious Balzan Prize “[f]or his unparalleled impact on the development of Holocaust Studies. For his masterpiece, an integrated history of the persecution and extermination of European Jews. For creating a historical narrative that expresses the unspeakable, intertwining scholarly analysis with the disruptive voices of the victims, perpetrators and bystanders” (from the statement of the jury).

Professor Friedländer generously decided to bestow parts of the prize funds awarded to him by the International Balzan Foundation upon a new team project on the “History of Bystanding in the Holocaust.” This team is directed by Christina Morina, Chair of Contemporary History at Bielefeld University, and co-advised by Norbert Frei, Senior Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Jena University. For the coming up to five years, team members Roma Sendyka, Anna Strommenger, Teresa Malice, Laura Niewöhner and Moritz Y. Meier will collaborate closely with Saul Friedländer to advance the study of the Holocaust towards a European social history of mass violence.

This website informs about the team’s work and progress as well as about upcoming academic and public events organized with support of the Balzan Prize funds.

Project Summary:

Bystanding in the Holocaust in Europe. Experiences, Ramifications, Representations, 1933 to the present

The Holocaust was a social process driven first and foremost by the Nazi regime and hundreds of thousands of German perpetrators. Yet, it was also facilitated by the more or less active involvement of the non-Jewish majority populations, both within Germany and in the occupied countries across Europe. To this day, the role of so-called bystanders in this process appears to be as crucial as it remains unclear and contested. After decades of Holocaust scholarship focusing first on the perpetrators and subsequently on the victims’ perspective, the overall role, (in)actions and experiences of bystanders remain to be explored systematically. The Balzan Bystanding Project undertakes the first comprehensive analysis of the perceptions and actions of bystanders based on the systematic exploration of a large sample of published and unpublished diaries written by Jews and non-Jews in Germany, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, France, Switzerland, the UK and the US. This collection of primary documents will be digitalized as well as safely and permanently stored in the Bystanding in the Holocaust Diary Collection (BHDC) at the Bielefeld University Library; it will provide the basis for research into the issues at the heart of the work of Saul Friedländer and the Balzan Prize Project, well beyond its duration.

Watch Saul Friedländer's accepting speech and Christina Morina (from min. 6:00) presenting the project at the Balzan Prize Ceremony in Bern, June 30, 2022. You can read the latter as well here.

For questions and inquiries please contact the project’s student research assistant, Moritz Y. Meier.



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