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Professor Emma Kuby to deliver talk on Political Survivors

March 13, 2019
Emma Kuby

History Professor Emma Kuby has a new book out that sheds light on the history of efforts by political survivors after 1945 to end concentration camps during the Cold War.

Kuby will deliver a talk on the book, entitled Political Survivors: The Resistance, the Cold War, and the Fight against Concentration Camps after 1945 (Cornell University Press) — during a reception from 2:30 to 4:30 pm on Friday, March 22, at the Thurgood Marshall Gallery in Swen Parson Hall.

Political Survivors tells the story of Nazi concentration camp survivors who launched a campaign after World War II to expose ongoing crimes against humanity. The International Commission against the Concentration Camp Regime, founded in 1949, brought together men and women originally deported for acts of anti-Nazi resistance who believed that their unlikely survival incurred a duty to bear witness. Over the course of the next decade, these pioneering activists crusaded to expose political imprisonment and forced labor in Franco’s Spain, Maoist China, French Algeria, and beyond.

Political Survivors uses the International Commission’s history to demonstrate that the key lessons Western Europeans drew from World War II centered on “the camp,” imagined first and foremost as a site of political repression rather than racial or religious genocide. It also reveals unknown elements of Commission’s celebrated project, notably its clandestine CIA funding and exclusion of Jewish Holocaust survivors. The book shows that Cold War dogma and acrimony, tied to a distorted understanding of WWII’s chief atrocities, overshadowed the humanitarian possibilities of the nascent anti-concentration camp movement as Europe confronted the violent decolonizing struggles of the 1950s.

More information on the book is available online.