January 27th marks a worldwide observation of Holocaust Remembrance Day, and IU Press authors and editors are uncovering more about one of the world's great tragedies every day.
Geoffrey Megargee, the editor and project leader for the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, has helped uncover new information about the extent to which Jews and other minorities were persecuted over the course of World War II.
In 2013 the team spoke with the New York Times about the scope of the Nazi persecution effort. The project had revealed more than 42,000 camps and ghettos, more than eight times what was originally believed to be the total. The Times wrote:
The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.
“The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the institute, said in an interview after learning of the new data.
The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.
The research work continues, and the third volume of the Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos is due out this year.
Meanwhile, historian Jeremy Black is also expanding the world's understanding of the Holocaust. His new book The Holocaust: History and Memory, explores the larger impact of the Holocaust in world culture, cautioning in an interview with Exeter University that the event's impact must not be diminished through baseless comparisons:
He says the “diminishment” of the word holocaust is unlike holocaust denial but is “in certain respects more insidious” because it “downplays the holocaust by comparison.”
The Exeter University Professor who has studied the holocaust for several decades and published two books on the subject, says it is wrong to compare the organised killing of 6 million Jews during the Nazi period with the Anglo-American bombings of Germany.
Attempts by far-right and mainstream German commentators to characterise the German experience in 1943-45 of heavy Anglo-American bombing and being driven from Eastern Europe as a holocaust where millions of people were killed in concentration camps is “absurd, not least because no genocide was attempted.” Such a comparison “strikes many non-Germans as ahistorical, ludicrous and offensive.
Black's book was released in August 2016 and is available from IU Press today.