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KHC-NEH 2017-2018 Colloquium: Collaboration and Complicity: Introduction

Collaboration and Complicity

Collaboration and Complicity: The scholarship on the Holocaust has increasingly transitioned from focusing exclusively on the perpetrators of violence against the Jewish population towards the enablers of Nazi policy and genocidal aims, which include complicity and collaboration on a massive scale. Such a theme is imperative in understanding the complexities of the Holocaust as it raises accountability not only to individual bystanders who remained passive or complicit as the Reich started to implement genocidal policies but to larger institutions such as the governments of occupied territories in Europe, the larger international community, and institutions that were designed to protect vulnerable populations, such as the Red Cross. Moreover, the role that individuals played as either rescuers or collaborators spotlights the potential regular civilians can play in terms of either resisting forces of evil or enabling its expansion. At the heart of this theme, the question of what kind of agency individuals possess as their government tilts towards authoritarianism is paramount. Complicity and collaboration will be explored through a social psychological lens by evaluating the way that dominant institutions and situational factors impacted the behaviors (or passivity) of individual bystanders and larger communities.


Collaboration and Complicity is organized as the 2017-2018 colloquium series by Dr. Azadeh Aalai of Queensborough Community College, CUNY. The Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives colloquia series, initiated in the 2012 – 2013 academic year, is supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant.

This program was made possible thanks to the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this web resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Resources for Peace Building & Conflict Resolution

Resources for Peace Building & Conflict Resolution:

Center for Teaching Peace :

(202) 537-1372

Located in Washington, DC, this institution started in 1986 with the mission of getting courses on nonviolence and peace studies into schools. The founder and director is Colman McCarthy, a former writer for the Washington Post and scholar of peace studies for over 30 years. He continues to teach peace at local high schools and also teaches courses at the law schools of both American University and Georgetown, among other institutions

His email address is:

United States Institute of Peace (USIP):

Established by Congress in the 1980s, this institution is devoted to non-violent prevention and ways to lessen deadly conflicts. Peace building is at the heart of the mission of this institution.

Friends Committee on National Legislation:

This is a Quaker lobby that has been advocating for peace and non-violence for decades. They also offer paid internships for college graduates.

Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom:

With a history dating back to the First World War, this organization’s mission is to promote peace and eliminate the causes for war across the globe. As per the mission and title, the role of women in particular in gaining rights and becoming leaders and decision-makers is featured prominently in the agenda of this organization.

International Center on Nonviolent Conflict:

This center specifically focuses on the power of ordinary citizens to become engaged, active, and empowered in non-violent measures to promote conflict resolution and promote human rights across the globe.

Association for Trauma Outreach & Prevention (ATOP) (Based in NYC):

Focusing on understanding the impact of trauma and offering methods for prevention and treatment in the aftermath of trauma, this organization is dedicated to peace building, conflict resolution, and a holistic approach to treatment for trauma. Focus includes the transformative impact of reconnecting with nature, spirituality, promotion of transparency, restorative justice, etc.

KHC/NEH Colloquium 2017 - 2018 Public Programming Recordings

List of Programs

Program 1.Some were Neighbors:

Complicity & Collaboration, a Workshop with The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Wednesday, September 13, 2017,

12:10 – 1:50, KHC

Dr. Susan Bachrach, Curator, Special Exhibitions, Levine Institute for Holocaust Education, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Description: Bachrach has overseen numerous exhibits at the USHMM including: Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, Liberation 1945, Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936, and Oskar Schindler: An Unlikely Hero. Her publications include: Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust, and The Nazi Olympics: Berlin 1936.

Program 2. Lecture: Exploring Yad Vashem’s “Righteous Among the Nations” Program

Thursday, September 28, 2017,

4:00-6:00pm KHC

Dr. Mordecai Paldiel, lecturer at Yeshiva University and Queens College, is the former Director of the Department for the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Description: This lecture and discussion will discuss the efforts by the state of Israel and Yad Vashem to commemorate and recognize those heroes of the Holocaust. He will answer questions such as: what are the circumstances for rescue, and what differentiates these active bystanders from the majority of passive bystanders who remain complicit with their silence and inaction? Witness the best of humanity during the worst of times with this renowned guest speaker.


Program 3. Remembering the Good: Holocaust Rescue and Resistance in a French Village

Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 12:20-1:50, KHRCA

Dr. Maggie Paxson, Research Fellow at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs

Description: From 1939 to 1945, the villagers of the Plateau Vivarais-Lignon, France, hid, protected, and ultimately rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazis at great peril to their own lives. Their nearly unparalleled actions during the Holocaust are part of this community's long history of taking in persecuted outsiders of diverse backgrounds. Anthropologist Dr. Margaret Paxson will discuss her nearly completed book on how this community handled the shelter of outsiders. Dr. Paxson, whose first book, Solvyovo: The Story of Memory in a Russian Village, was named a 2006 “Book of the Year” by, is a Research Fellow at Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Using the archive collection of the USHMM oral histories and other official records, this scholar offers a comprehensive and fascinating narrative of an entire community effort towards resistance and rescue, the effects of which both resonate and remain celebrated today.

Feller, currently the Police Adviser to the United Nations who serves as a Director in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, discusses crises which cause internal and external displacement, and the challenges of reverting displacement and migration.

Program 4. KHC Cinema Series: Incident at Vichy

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

12:10-2:00pm at the KHC

Adapted from Arthur Miller's play, this film focuses on a group of men detained in Vichy France; and held to wait unknowingly, for what turns out to be their "racial" inspection by German military officers and Vichy French police during World War II. It focuses on the subjects of human nature, guilt, fear, and complicity and examines how the Nazis were able to perpetrate the Holocaust with so little resistance. The play first premiered on Broadway in December of 1964. See follow-up discussion taking place on December 6th, 2017.

Released in 2016, 94 minutes


Incident at Vichy: A Discussion with the Actors

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

12:10-2:00pm at the KHC

KHC/NEH 2017-18 Colloquium: Complicity & Collaboration

An intimate portrait of life under Nazi occupation in Vichy France is dramatized by the Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Arthur Miller’s Incident at Vichy. Oftentimes overlooked when assessing Miller’s overall oeuvre, this specific play was performed at the Signature Theater in New York City in 2015 and explored the resonant themes of living life under an occupying force where the line between friends and foes is blurred and evil presents itself in many forms, oftentimes disguised and hard to penetrate on the surface. A discussion of the impetus for revitalizing this Miller work by including a panel of participants from the Signature Theatre will take place that includes some of the actors and other production members. See film screening taking place at the KHC on November 29th, 2017.


Program 5.: Undergraduate Research Showcase

Friday, December 8th, 2017


Description: Jacqueline Murekatete, founder of the Genocide Survivors Foundation speaks about her own experiences as a victim of the Rwandan genocide. Every Fall, Queensborough Community College celebrates “Undergraduate Research Day” by showcasing the undergraduate research of students across the disciplines. This year, as a part of the 2017 Conference, select KHC fellows will present about their participation in the Fall 2017 Holocaust, Asian Social Justice, and NEH Complicity and Collaboration Fellowship programs. Students will reflect on learning about each respective topic, and the process of interviewing survivors and representatives of local social organizations. 



Program 6.The Experience of Polish Jews under Nazi Occupation

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

12:10-2:00pm at the KHC

Lecturer: Dr. David Engel

Part of the Drs. Bebe and Owen Bernstein Lecture Series

KHC/NEH 2017-18 Colloquium: Complicity & Collaboration

Description: Dr. Engel will lecture about the treatment of Jews specifically in Poland during the Holocaust. This presentation will chronicle his research of the Holocaust in Poland, the Polish government-in-exile, and the role of complicity versus collaboration versus rescue that occurred in Nazi occupied territories in Eastern Europe.

Program 7. Becoming an Engaged & Active Bystander: How to Navigate a Complex & Diverse World 

Friday, March 9th, 2018 

10:00-2:00pm at the KHC

Faciliators: Dr. Azadeh Aalai in partnership with CERRU

KHC/NEH 2017-18 Colloquium: Complicity & Collaboration

Description: In partnership with the Center for Ethnic, Racial, & Religious Understanding (CERRU) at Queens College, this workshop will facilitate skill-building for student and other participants by asking them to reflect on difficult questions, such as: what does it take to become an engaged and civic-minded citizen, and how can we develop skills to be more likely to be active (rather than passive) bystanders? The workshop will explore the theme of complicity and collaboration in a modern context, by reflecting on how we feel pressure today to remain passive in the face of injustice, and through exploration of ways we can feel comfortable taking action when others need help. 

Program 8. Wartime Defection: Resistance and Rescue During Genocide 

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

5:00-7:00pm at the KHC

Lecturer: Dr. Aliza Luft

Part of the Drs. Bebe and Owen Bernstein Lecture Series

KHC/NEH 2017-18 Colloquium: Complicity & Collaboration


Prominent scholar and UCLA faculty member Dr. Aliza Luft will discuss her research on rescue behavior during mass atrocities and genocide. Her presentation will focus on decision-making in violent contexts and how people shift stances from support for state violence to resistance over time. Luft draws on case studies from her research in France, where people were both complicit in genocide and resistant to it at alternate moments in time. She will discuss the role of Catholic bishops – a highly visible, majority population in France, and their activism which took place in large cities where they were under heavy watch by Vichy and the Nazis. Reflecting on the KHC exhibit, Conspiracy of Goodness, she will show the distinctions from that of Le Chambon, where a minority group of protestants engaged in rescue behaviors far from the center of the regime’s activities.

Luft is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UCLA. In addition to her academic scholarship, she has served as a research assistant for the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, the Transitional Justice Database Project, and as a consultant for the United States Agency for International Development.


Program 9. QCC Honors Conference 

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Location/Time TBD

Each year, Queensborough Community College recognizes students and their faculty mentors by showcasing the completed by students across the disciplines. This year, as a part of the 2017 Conference, select KHC fellows will present about their participation in the Spring 2017 KHC/CERRU Dialogue, Asian Social Justice, and NEH Complicity and Collaboration Fellowship programs. Students will reflect on learning about each respective topic, and the process of interviewing survivors and representatives of local social organizations. Additional details to be announced in Spring 2018.