International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Each year on January 27, UNESCO pays tribute to the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and reaffirms its unwavering commitment to counter antisemitism, racism, and other forms of intolerance that may lead to group-targeted violence. Acquisitions Editor Stephen Shapiro reflects on this day with books published by University of Toronto Press that have addressed various aspects of the Holocaust.

Since 2006, January 27 – the date of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau – has been commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. University of Toronto Press (UTP) has published many books over the years which address various aspects of the Holocaust, as well as the context in which this atrocity occurred. In addition, books published by UTP address the crime of genocide in other contexts. No brief list can capture all the titles which address the subject, in whole or in part, but here are a few of the most recent publications.

None Is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe, 1933–1948 was first published by Lester & Orpen Dennys in 1983. An early expose of Canadian government policy towards Jews seeking to escape Nazi Europe, the book had a seismic impact on the study of Canadian history. In 2012, University of Toronto first reissued the book. The new 40th Anniversary Edition includes a foreword by Richard Menkis and an afterword by David S. Koffman. Menkis and Troper also co-authored More than Just Games: Canada and the 1936 Olympics (UTP, 2015).

James E. Young calls But I Live: Three Stories of Child Survivors of the Holocaust the “most powerful collection of non-fiction graphic novellas of the Holocaust since Art Spiegelman’s Maus.” But I Live paired Holocaust survivors David Schaffer, Nico and Rolf Kamp, and Emmie Arbel with artists Miriam Libicki, Gilad Seliktar, and Barbara Yelin to tell their harrowing stories. In 2023 it was shortlisted for a Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards in the category of Best Reality-Based Work, as well as winning AAP Prose Awards for Nonfiction Graphic Novels and Biography/Autobiography and the 2022 Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Biography.

Both of these books appeared in UTP’s New Jewish Press imprint, which publishes outstanding books on Jewish culture, history, philosophy, literature, and religion aimed at an audience both inside and outside academia.

For more than 80 years, people and states have struggled over how to secure justice for the Holocaust’s victims. Richard Golsan’s Justice in Lyon: Klaus Barbie and France’s First Trial for Crimes against Humanity describes the challenges the trial of German officer Klaus Barbie posed. Drawing on many details of the courtroom proceedings, he demonstrates that the process was far from straightforward. Golsan also co-edited, with Sarah Misemer, The Trial that Never Ends on Adolf Eichmann’s trial and Hannah Arendt’s book Eichmann in Jerusalem. For a more recent book on the trial, see The Eichmann Trial Reconsidered, edited by Rebecca Wittmann.

Whether to commemorate other victims of Nazi persecution within the Holocaust or in parallel to it has sometimes been controversial. Recent decades have seen increased acknowledgment of Nazi persecution of LGBTQ+ individuals. Laurie Marhoefer’s most recent book, Racism and the Making of Gay Rights, addresses some of how Jewish German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld responded to the rise of the Nazis. And States of Liberation: Gay Men between Dictatorship and Democracy in Cold War Germany by Samuel Huneke considers some of the postwar legacies.

Contemporary scholarship on the Holocaust also sets it within the context of other genocides. The latest edition of Centuries of Genocide, edited by Samuel Totten, covers sixteen cases from the nineteenth century to the present. Totten and Henry Theriault’s The United Nation Genocide Convention: An Introduction discusses the origins and application of that treaty. In The Sleeping Giant Awakens: Genocide, Indian Residential Schools, and the Challenge of Conciliation, political scientist David B. MacDonald addresses the Indian Residential Schools system in Canada as genocide.

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