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Annual Holocaust Remembrance Day Lecture
Jewish Perceptions of Justice

Kaplan-Brauer Lecture in Jewish Studies with Dr. Laura Jockusch, Brandeis University.

January 30, 5:30pm.
In-person lecture, free and open to the public.
UNC Stone Center, Multi-Purpose Room
Parking: Bell Tower Deck.
This event will not be recorded.

“If you survive, you must take revenge”:
Jewish vengeance during and after the Holocaust

Revenge was ubiquitous among European Jews during the Holocaust. It included direct acts—i.e. violence against Nazi perpetrators and their collaborators—and indirect, symbolic acts, such as ideas and fantasies expressed in diaries, letters, last wills, wall inscriptions, songs, and poems. This engagement with direct and indirect revenge even continued into the postwar period. What functions did vengeance have for Jews in the face of systematic mass murder during the Holocaust? Why did survivors after their liberation from Nazi rule often refrain from enacting their wartime fantasies of vengeance? Why did some prominent survivors and scholars in the 1980s and 1990s tend to claim that revenge had been absent among Jews during and after the Holocaust? And why does current popular culture valorize survivors as moral authority figures who do not engage in vengeance and instead turn the “other cheek,” while the entertainment industry capitalizes on counter-factual representations of omnipotent “survivor-avengers”? Seeking to answer these questions, this lecture will reflect on the complexities of Jewish revenge during and after the European Jewish catastrophe.


Laura Jockusch is Albert Abramson Associate Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University.
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