Noted Holocaust historian to discuss the anatomy of genocide

Historian Omer Bartov, the author of several well-respected scholarly works on the Holocaust, will offer a cautionary examination of how genocide can take root at the local level during an upcoming lecture at Salve Regina.

“Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz” will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26 in the Bazarsky Lecture Hall as part of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy’s fall lecture series. To RSVP, visit the Pell Center’s Eventbrite page.

For more than 400 years, the Eastern European border town of Buczacz – today part of Ukraine – was home to a highly diverse citizenry. It was here that Poles, Ukrainians and Jews all lived side by side in relative harmony. Then came World War II, and three years later the entire Jewish population had been murdered by German and Ukrainian police, while Ukrainian nationalists eradicated Polish residents.

Bartov will explain how ethnic cleansing doesn’t occur as is so often portrayed in popular history, with the quick ascent of a vitriolic political leader and the unleashing of military might. It begins in seeming peace, slowly and often unnoticed, the culmination of pent-up slights and grudges and indignities. The perpetrators aren’t just sociopathic soldiers. They are neighbors and friends and family. They are human beings, proud and angry and scared. They are also middle-aged men who come from elsewhere, often with their wives and children and parents, and settle into a life of bourgeois comfort peppered with bouts of mass murder: an island of normality floating on an ocean of blood.

Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University. He is the author of “Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz,” along with “Germany’s War and the Holocaust: Disputed Histories” and “Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine.” He has written for the New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, the Nation and the New York Times Book Review.

For more information, contact the Pell Center at (401) 341-2927 or

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