- Dr. James Loeffler
- Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman Distinguished Scholar Series
Raphael Lemkin and the Forgotten Zionist Origins of Genocide Law
The Polish Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin is known for coining the term "genocide" during World War II to describe a new kind of international crime: the mass destruction of an ethnic, cultural or racial group. But despite decades of research, scholars have never identified the precise origins of Lemkin's idea of outlawing mass murder. In this lecture, Dr. Loeffler argues that the concept of a "genocide law" predates the Holocaust and is derived from Lemkin's forgotten role as a leader in the interwar Polish Zionist movement. Ultimately, Dr. Loeffler also explores what Zionism can tell us about the politics of the Holocaust and human rights, past and present.
Dr. James Loeffler is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. He possesses skills in English, Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, French, Polish, and German. While in residence at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Dr. Loeffler conducted research on his project, “The Holocaust and Human Right: A New Interpretation.”
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