Center for Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Studies

Wednesday October 3       4:00 - 5:15 pm    |    CHHS Bldg., Room 281

Holocaust survivor Susan Cernyak-Spatz

Dr. Cernyak-Spatz, who is a Professor Emerita of German Literature at UNC Charlotte, was born in Vienna in July 1922. In 1929, she moved with her family to Berlin, where they witnessed Hitler's rise to power. To escape persecution, they fled to Prague in March 1938. Her father managed to escape to Belgium shortly before the German invasion of Poland and beginning of the continental war, but the Nazis arrested and eventually deported Cernyak-Spatz and her mother.
At the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, Cernyak-Spatz suffered at the hands of German guards as well as from a range of diseases, including typhoid and scarlet fever. Yet, her connections in the barracks and the fact that she could speak English, French, Czech, and German helped her obtain a job in the camp's administration, away from the often deadly work details outside the camp. Cernyak-Spatz survived Auschwitz-Birkenau and the women's concentration camp of Ravensbrück, while her mother died in the Theresienstadt ghetto. MORE

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

Denial: The Final Stage of Genocide


April 13-14, 2019



More information, including Call for Papers

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.”....

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

Dates, schedule, more information for June 2019 Study Abroad TBA soon. The dates, sites, prices, etc. will be very similar to our 2018 trip.


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.” 



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

“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.”

Book event at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro.



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."