Preface to Civil Society and the Holocaust: International Perspectives on Resistance and Rescue

Published by Humanity in Action in 2013, Civil Society and the Holocaust: International Perspectives on Resistance and Rescue examines the different ways that European countries and the United States responded to the Holocaust. This anthology was created as part of “Civil Society: Reactions to the Holocaust, a series of events in Copenhagen commemorating the 70th anniversary of the flight and deportation of Danish Jews in October 1943. 

 

In the fall of 2013 Humanity in Action Denmark organized an important conference on “Civil Society: Reactions to the Holocaust,” The Copenhagen conference and essays in this book explore the different ways that European countries and the United States responded to the Holocaust. Given the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the flight and rescue of Jews in Denmark, both the conference and book provide particular insights about Danish history during the Second World War. Both the conference and book draw lessons from the Holocaust and seek to strengthen the protection of minorities and the responsibilities of civil society today. These undertak- ings are the product of outstanding inquiries and activities that the Danish Humanity in Action Senior Fellows, board and staff have accomplished over 15 years under the leadership of Herbert Pundik, Uffe Stormgaard and Anders Jerichow.

Humanity in Action focuses on historic and contemporary challenges to vulnerable minorities in Western liberal democracies through its educational programs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, and the United States, Since we commenced our first program in 1999, the flight and rescue of Jews in Denmark in October 1943 has been a significant subject for our inquiries. We still find deeply complex challenges in this Danish history and the many ways in which it relates to other countries.

Claude Lanzmann, noted author and creator of “Shoah,” wrote in his autobiography that “humans are human only because they have the capacity to transform that which oppresses them into something of value, and to sacrifice themselves for it. [This] is the very essence of humanity, but could also be called tradition, or even more, culture.” (1) Humanity in Action probes the different cultures of civic engagement with international students and young professionals to promote democracy, justice and knowledge of history. The 2013 Danish commemorative conference and this signature pub- lication make significant contributions to understanding the responsibilities and power of individual and collective action to promote the public good and civil society.

 

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About the Author

Judith S. Goldstein founded Humanity in Action in 1997 and has served as its Executive Director ever since. Under Judith’s leadership, Humanity in Action has organized educational programs on international affairs, diversity and human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Poland, the Netherlands and the United States. She received her Ph.D in history from Columbia University and was a Woodrow Wilson Scholar for her MA studies. Judith has written several books and articles about European and American history, art and landscape architecture. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and several boards and advisory groups.

Citation

Goldstein, Judith S. "Preface." In Civil Society and the Holocaust: International Perspectives on Resistance and Rescueedited by Anders Jerichow and Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke, 7-8. New York: Humanity in Action Press, 2013.

References

1. Lanzmann, Claude. The Patagonian Hare. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013. 312-313.

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