Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies

Denial: The Final Stage of Genocide

First International Conference of the Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies

April 13-14, 2019

More information, including Call for Papers


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Summer/Fall classes that count toward HGHR Minor:

More information: Minor in HGHR Studies


Professor emerita recounts Holocaust experience

"Dr. Susan Cernyak-Spatz shares story with students"

 | FEBRUARY 26, 2018  Niner Times

“You didn’t have very much time for God. What God would be there?” Students shifted in their seats, uncomfortable and saddened by the words of Holocaust survivor Dr. Susan Cernyak-Spatz. On February 20, the UNC Charlotte professor emerita of German literature gave a lecture that ensured that students would never forget the atrocities of that period. She sat almost hidden behind a table that held a microphone and a dimly lit lamp that would set the somber mood of the hour....

In May of 1942, Cernyak-Spatz and her mother were deported to Theresienstadt, the “special ghetto,” where people were held before transport to concentration camps. Once they arrived, her mother was sent to the Sobibór camp where she was murdered — a death, as Cernyak-Spatz put it, “probably more merciful than Auschwitz.”....

They arrived in Loslau (early 1945), where Cernyak-Spatz and the other women were sent to KZ Ravensbrueck, the largest women’s concentration camp. She stayed there until April of 1945 when they were again deported, this time to the West to avoid the Russian advance. Upon arrival at the American checkpoint, Cernyak-Spatz and her group met an American GI. They told him they came from extermination camps and his eyes widened like she had never seen before. “What the hell is an extermination camp?”....

And what does Cernyak-Spatz want to see in the world now? “Please stay human,” she said, seeming to lock eyes with each audience member as she asked them to learn from the atrocities of the powerful SS officers and the Nazi regime.

“Please try not to forget and please stay human.”


Summer 2018 Study Abroad to Berlin, Krakow, and Auschwitz

SU 18: A Holocaust Journey


In April 2019, we will hold our First Center for HGHR Studies International Conference: "Denial: The Final Stage of Genocide." Keynote speaker: Lerna Ekmekcioglu. More information soon!

A Call for Papers will be posted and distributed by May 2018. Conference steering committee: Drs. John Cox, Emek Ergun, Ella Fratantuono, Amal Khoury, and Sarah Minslow.

Contact: John Cox,




August 29, 2017: Blog post by HGHR director John Cox: "Confederate Memorials: Celebrating Racism, Erasing History"

January 27, 2017: "Someone's recounting the tragic story of the MS St. Louis on Twitter: Remembering the murdered, one tweet at a time"

"The St. Louis Manifest account was created by Russell Neiss, an educator and coder, and grandson of two refugees from Europe who survived the Holocaust. He told The Verge that the account came out of a conversation he had with a colleague Thursday night. “The United States Holocaust Museum and Memorial did all the heavy lifting” when it came to the passengers’ identities, he explained. Several years ago, the museum attempted to identify everyone on the ship. With that data, Neiss wrote up a simple Python script that scraped the information off the website and set up a Twitter bot automatically tweet it out. The entire project took him an hour or so to set up."

Full text

Recent books by HGHR Center steering committee members

"Scholar’s Book Analyzes Freedom, Citizenship In Study of Black Militia"

History professor Gregory Mixon’s new book analyzes one state’s process of freedom, citizenship and the incorporation of African Americans within the political and economic structure of the United States after the Civil War. Show Thyself a Man: Georgia State Troops, Colored, 1865-1905 (University Press of Florida) explores the history of Georgia’s black militia and how both independent militias and state-sponsored militias defined freedom and citizenship for African Americans.

“Black people had a vision for freedom after the Civil War,” Mixon says. “They had a vision of what citizenship should be and that vision conflicted with white definitions of post-Civil War freedom and citizenship.” Attempts to fulfill the African American vision of freedom have often met with resistance.


"To Kill A People: Cox’s Book Considers Genocide in 20th Century"

.... John Cox emphasized that individuals make choices, although these may be under circumstances difficult to imagine. “We also have it within ourselves to ‘do the right thing,’ so to speak,” he says. “Genocidal violence can begin with small acts that go unopposed; similarly, resistance can begin with small acts or gestures, which then have a rippling effect. One thing we should learn from history is the necessity to be vigilant in defending human rights, and to stand up against bigotry and injustice, and to not keep silent, waiting for the storm to pass. It might not.”


Julia Marie Robinson, UNC Charlotte associate professor of Religious Studies, looks at the role black churches in urban areas in Race, Religion and the Pulpit – Rev. Robert L. Bradby and the Making of Urban Detroit (Wayne State University Press). "During the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the cities of the Northeast, Midwest, and West, the local black church was essential in the making and reshaping of urban areas. In Detroit, one church and one minister in particular demonstrate this power of the pulpit."