Please join us for a virtual symposium co-convened by Harriman Institute Adjunct Assistant Professor Tanya Domi and Laura Cohen, Executive Director of the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center at Queensborough Community College, CUNY.
Across Europe, the history of the Holocaust is routinely distorted for nationalist purposes by governments looking to influence interpretations of, while distancing themselves from, the atrocities committed on their soil during World War II. At the same time, evidence continues to emerge about what happened to the Jewish, as well as Roma and Sinti communities throughout Southeast Europe and the Western Balkans. This symposium offers new insights into how the Holocaust unfolded in Bulgaria, and also discusses the initial findings of new research commissioned by the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) and the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University about the fate of Roma and Sinti people in the former Yugoslavia.
All times in EDT (New York). Each panel requires individual registration.
Panel I: Uncovering the Legacy of the Holocaust in Bulgaria
This panel features a discussion about the documentary film, A Question of Survival: The Complex Legacy of the Holocaust in the Balkans (2020), as well as the challenges of doing research in a country where the history of the Holocaust has been mythologized, obscured, and contested. Please note that the film will not be shown during the panel. The link to screen it in advance will be shared nine days before the event. Register to Watch Film >
- Elka Nikolova, filmmaker
- Steven Sage, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum specialist on Bulgaria
- Rumyana Marinova-Christidi, Head of Hebraistika on the Faculty of History at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” in Bulgaria
- Moderator: Laura Cohen (Kupferberg Holocaust Center)
Panel II: The Fates of the Roma and Sinti during the Holocaust in the Former Yugoslavia
This panel discusses the initial findings of a new research report commissioned by the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) and the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.
- Matei Demetrescu, Program Officer at the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities
- Hristo Kyuchukov, Professor of Intercultural Education at the University of Silesia, Poland
- Alenka Janko Spreizer, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Primorska, Slovenia
- Hikmet Karčić, genocide and Holocaust scholar
- Margareta Matache, Instructor at Harvard University; Director of the Roma Program at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights.
- Moderator: Tanya Domi (Harriman Institute)
Matei Demetrescu joined the Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities (AIPG) in 2020, as the Program Officer for AIPG’s Mediterranean Basin Programs and the Global Raphael Lemkin Seminar for Genocide Prevention. His responsibilities include the organization and implementation of AIPG’s programs in Southeastern Europe. Prior to this, he worked for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as a Program Officer and Acting Director of the DAAD Information Centre in Bucharest. Demetrescu has an academic background in Political Science, with an M.Phil. at Sciences-Po Paris and a Ph.D. at the University of Bucharest.
Alenka Janko Spreizer is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Primorska Faculty of Humanities in the Department of Anthropology and Cultural Studies. She is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Intercultural Studies and an internationally recognized social anthropologist who does her fieldwork research among Romani groups in Slovenia and elsewhere. She is a specialist in Romani studies, scientific racism, and ant-gypsyism, and author of the pioneer scientific monograph Vedel sem, da sem Cigan – rodil sem se kot Rom: Znanstveni rasizem v raziskovanju Romov (2001), [I knew I was a Gypsy – I was born as a Rom (2001)], in which she underlined the non-recognizability of racist discourse in intellectual frameworks of Romani studies [romology], and Slovene as well as European political milieu, and amongst Roma.
Hikmet Karčić, Genocide and Holocaust scholar based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was the 2017 Auschwitz Institute-Keene State College Global Fellow who has written extensively on genocide denial and atrocity prevention. A sought after commentator on international media outlets, his articles covering far-right extremism and mass atrocities have appeared in Haaretz, Newsweek and Foreign Policy.
Hristo Kyuchukov is professor of Intercultural education at the University of Silesia, Katowice, Poland. He is known in Europe and worldwide for his educational and linguistic research with Roma children, for his research on Romani language, history and culture. Kyuchukov is the Director of the Roma Research Centre at the University of Katowice, Poland and the President of the European Roma Scholars Network, based in Berlin, Germany. He is author of over 800 scientific publications and books for children in Romani, English, Bulgarian, Turkish and Arabic languages.
Rumyana Marinova-Christidi is Head of Hebraistika on the Faculty of History at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” in Bulgaria where she teaches Contemporary History of Bulgaria, Cultural Diplomacy, and Holocaust Studies. Since 2011, Marinova-Christidi is a national advisor for the Bologna Process in Higher Education, specializing on the process of internationalization of Higher Education and on new methods of teaching the Communist period and the Holocaust. She is an advisor to the President of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “SHALOM”.
Margareta (Magda) Matache is a scholar from Romania and director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights’ Roma Program, and a Harvard instructor. Her research and teaching focus on the history and manifestations of anti-Roma racism, as well as the global history of race and racism. From 2005 to 2012, Dr. Matache was the Executive Director of Romani CRISS, a human rights organization that defends the rights of Roma. In 2012, she was awarded a Hauser postdoctoral fellowship at the FXB Center, where she founded the University’s Roma Program. In 2017, with Jacqueline Bhabha and Andrzej Mirga, she co-edited Realizing Roma Rights, an investigation of anti-Roma racism in Europe. Also, along with Jacqueline Bhabha and Caroline Elkins, Dr. Matache is the co-editor of Time for Reparations, a forthcoming volume exploring the issue of reparations across a broad range of historical and geographic contexts and academic disciplines. She completed her Master’s in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and her doctoral degree in Political Sciences from the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Bucharest. She also holds a master’s degree in European Social Policies.
Elka Nikolova was born in Bulgaria and studied psychology at the University of Sofia before she moved to the United States in 1994. In 2000, she received her M.A. in Media Studies from the New School in New York, has worked in film and television since 2003. Her 2007 documentary film, Binka: To Tell a Story About Silence, premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Nikolova co-produced and edited the documentary film, Angel Wagenstein: Art is a Weapon, directed by Andrea Simon and completed in 2017. Her second documentary film, A Question of Survival, about the legacy of the Holocaust in the Balkans as seen through the eyes of three Bulgarian Jewish survivors from New York, premiered during the 2021 South East European Film Festival in Los Angeles. Nikolova is currently working on her third documentary, The Dressmaker, which continues the exploration of the Holocaust in the region.
Steven Sage is a specialist on Bulgaria at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). He currently holds “Volunteer” status at the Museum, although during the past few years has been active in a consultative capacity and as an applied historical researcher. He has written extensively about the camps and ghettos in Bulgaria which were published in Volume 3 of the USHMM Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, in addition to other periodicals such as Slavic Review and the Journal of Holocaust Research, as well as providing documentation for the Claims Conference and World Jewish Restitution Organization. Previously, Sage was the Consular Officer & 2nd Secretary at the U.S. Embassy at Sofia, 1984–1986.