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CHGS News November 2013 
From The Director

Opa (grandpa) Walter: A lawyer without rights


Alejandro Baer  


An extraordinary international exhibit is touring Minnesota this month: Lawyers without Rights. Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich. The display was created by the German and American Bar Associations and was brought here as an outreach initiative of the Federal District Court of Minnesota. The exhibit reflects a time in Germany when individual rights and the rule of law were systematically disregarded.  

My own grandfather, Walter Mieses, was one of the many lawyers whose destiny was tied to the fate of democracy. He was born in Leipzig in 1900. At the age of 28 he became the youngest judge in the state of Saxony, serving at the Regional Court in Leipzig. 


In 1929 he resigned his position in the civil service and became a private attorney, representing clients before the Court of Appeals of the State of Saxony, in Dresden. In April 1933, the National Socialist decree that refused all Jewish judges, public prosecutors, and lawyers access to the courts brought his brilliant career to a halt. In the same year he emigrated to Buenos Aires (Argentina).


Walter Mieses never practiced law again. But his passion for the legal profession and his profound sense of justice and fairness, led him to become a frequent contributor to Argentina's immigrant and national newspapers, writing articles on civil and criminal law, international affairs, and Jewish-German relations. He died of injuries suffered in a bus accident in Buenos Aires in 1967.


letter head

Stationary of Walter Mieses (Dresden, 1932)

I never met my grandfather but I grew up hearing stories about Opa Walter. Now, thanks to this important effort of Minnesota's legal community, his story and that of many other Jewish German lawyers, judges and prosecutors will become known to a broad audience. For that I am personally grateful.


Some lawyers, like my grandfather, were able to escape Nazi-Germany to rebuild their lives in another country. But too many of his colleagues, like millions of others, did not escape. Their fate was incarceration and murder.


This exhibit pays homage to all these lawyers by teaching an important lesson: the rule of law is as fragile as glass and its destruction is always the prelude of atrocities.


-Alejandro Baer

The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies is grieved by the loss of Myron Kunin

Koerner Painting
My Parents II, 1946. Henry Koerner (1915-1991)
This painting from Myron Kunin's  collection has been associated with the Center since it was used to promote the Absence/Presence exhibition of 1999. It was also used as the cover photo for Dr. Stephen Feinstein's book of the same name. 

Myron Kunin passed away at the age of 85 last week. It was Myron's passion for art that brought him together with Stephen Feinstein. Together they curated Witness and Legacy, a major commemorative art exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz that debuted in St. Paul in 1995 and traveled until 2002. That collaboration began the friendship and vision that lead to the founding of our Center in 1997.  


We will honor Myron's his legacy as we strive to fulfill our mission of educating all sectors of society about the Holocaust and other genocides.


May his memory be a blessing to us all. 


Obituary: Myron Kunin, businessman, patron of the arts

StarTribune 10-31-2013


Programs on the Occasion of the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Storefronts of Jewish-owned businesses damaged during the Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogrom. Berlin, Germany, November 10, 1938.

- Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz USHMM


To commemorate the 75th anniversary of

Kristallnacht, the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and its campus and community partners are sponsoring and hosting programs about the Holocaust and antisemitism for educators and the general public.


Programs to commemorate the anniversary of 


History, Memory and Pedagogy: K-16 Educator Workshop

Saturday, November 9

Special Screening: BESA: The Promise

Saturday, November 9  

Tuesday, November 12

Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich

October 21 through November 21.

Antisemitism Then and Now

Thursday, December 5  



Local Survivors and their memory of Kristallnacht



Gus Gutman:  Excerpt from 

Portraying Memory

an art project by Felix de la Concha.

Gus Gutman
Gus Gutman


Fred Amram: 

Kristallnacht, The Night of Shattered Glass

Written by Fred Amram

An Argentine Genocide?
Individual Accountability and Collective Guilt during 1976-83 Dictatorship 
Never Again!

A talk by Antonius Robben, Anthropology, 
Utrecht University
Monday, November 25

The sentencing of Argentine officers for carrying out genocide by disappearing tens of thousands of citizens has opened a public debate about agency and accountability during the 1976-83 military dictatorship. This presentation analyzes how this shift from gross human rights violations to genocide is having extensive implications for national memory, political responsibility, international law, and the concept of genocide.
Antonius Robben (PhD, Berkeley, 1986) is Professor of Anthropology at Utrecht University and past President of the Netherlands Society of Anthropology. He has been a research fellow at the Michigan Society of Fellows, Ann Arbor, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, New York, and the David Rockefeller Center, Harvard University. His most recent books include Political Violence and Trauma in Argentina (2005) that won the Textor Prize from the American Anthropological Association in 2006, and the edited volume Iraq at a Distance: What Anthropologists Can Teach Us About the War (2010).
Organized by the IAS Reframing Mass Violence: Human Rights and Social Memory in Latin America and Southern Europe Collaborative. Cosponsored by the Human Rights Program, and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. 
"The Concept of Survival" a lecture by Visiting Scholar Falko Schmieder
Wednesday, November 20
12:00 p.m.
Room 710 Social Sciences Building

One aspect of the emergence of bio politics around 1800 is the formation of a temporalized meaning of, Survival', indicating a profound change in the understanding of being and its relation to time and politics. A well known linguistic expression of this change is the metaphor "survival of the fittest" which was a key element of Social Darwinist worldview.   


The Anthropologist and Ethnographer E.B.Tylor introduced another important concept: that of, "Survivals." As an important methodological tool of the new science of cultural anthropology this concept identifies and explores such elements of culture, which have their origins in pre-modern times and have a second life as inharmonious misfits in modernity, creating conditions of the synchronicity of the nonsynchronous.


In his presentation Schmieder examine the significance of the temporalization of survival for different fields of knowledge, and, in a further step, will discuss some turning points of the subsequent history of this concept, which is still relevant for contemporary discourses. 

Falko Schmieder is a DAAD visiting professor at the University of Minnesota and is currently teaching the course "History of the Holocaust." He has studied Communications, Political Science and Sociology at various German Universities. Since 2005 he has worked as a researcher at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research Berlin.
Book of the Month
"Kristallnacht: Violence, Memory, and History"
Edited by Nathan Wilson, Colin McCullough
Routledge - 2014 - 200 pages
Series: Routledge Studies in Modern European History
Date of release January 2014

What did people hear about Kristallnacht outside of Germany in 1938 from governments and media sources? How did governments and ordinary people respond to the plight of the Jewish community there? How have lives been affected by Kristallnacht in the seventy years since its occurrence? This interdisciplinary study of erasure and enshrinement seeks to answer these questions, exploring issues of memory and forgetting (in both the material and symbolic sense), and how the meaning of Kristallnacht has been altered by various actors since 1938. 

For more information click here.
November 14 is Give to the Max Day!
Be a light for the U's Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies on Give to the Max Day. 

Make a gift by clicking here. 


In This Issue
Myron Kunin
An Argentine Genocide?
Lecture: Concept of Survival
Book of the Month
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Resources: Kristallnacht


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