Category Archives: Hebraica and Judaica

Talk | Re-embracing the Lachrymose Theory of Jewish History: Dialogue with a Columbia Tradition

October 30, 2018 @ 6PM
Faculty House Garden Room 2

Norman E. Alexander Lecture in Jewish Studies

In his multi-volume social and religious history of the Jews, Salo Baron, one of the most influential Jewish historians of the 20th century, decried how Jewish history had been told and retold as an endless tale of woe. Instead, Baron stressed that, in the diaspora, Jews did not necessarily suffer more than other members of the societies in which they resided, and often lived creatively within Christian and Islamic lands.

This evening Benjamin Gampel will explain how Baron’s claims about the Jews grew out of the social and religious landscape of the early twentieth century Europe. Gampel will argue, based on his understanding of medieval Jewish history, that a newer understanding of the lachrymose history of the Jews could well be seen as an appropriate way to appreciate the saga of this minority people and be of importance, as well, to the social and religious challenges facing contemporary Jewry.

Co-sponsored by Columbia University Libraries, Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies.

What is this place? A short intro to RBML

That is the question we hear a lot at the beginning of the new academic year as students explore Butler Library and end up here, in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, aka “The Pink Palace.”

pink castle design and acronym rbml

Is there difference between a “castle” and a “palace?”

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) is Columbia’s principal repository for primary source collections.  The range of collections in the RBML spans more than 4,000 years and includes rare printed works, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, papyri, and Coptic ostraca; medieval and renaissance manuscripts; posters; art; comics & cartoons, and oral histories.

Forming the core of the collections: 500,000 printed books, 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, archives and records, and 10,000 (and counting) oral histories.

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Telford Taylor and the Precedent of the Nuremberg Trials

Archivist Christopher M. Laico shares the significance of the Telford Taylor Papers as the collection relates to International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

U.S. Brigadier General Telford Taylor addresses the Tribunal

U.S. Brigadier General Telford Taylor addresses the Tribunal. Telford Taylor Papers; Box 214, Folder 139; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

DATELINE: Washington, DC, 9 May 1949. In a statement to the International News Service, U.S. Brig. Gen. Telford Taylor announced the official end of the Nuremberg Military Tribunals. Taylor declared: “I venture to predict that as time goes on we will hear more about Nuremberg rather than less, and that in a very real sense the conclusion of the trials marks the beginning, and not the end, of Nuremberg as a force in politics, law and morals. . . . It is a precedent which will be welcomed by all who believe that peace and human dignity will find their surest guarantee in the establishment of ‘world order under the rule of law.’ ”

This Saturday, January 27th marks the internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. As we remember the victims of the Shoah , we gain solace in Telford Taylor’s fulfilled prophecy that the precedent of the Nuremberg Trials has become a force in international politics, law and morals.

SS Major General Otto Ohlendorf and SS Brigadier General Heinz Jost (front to rear), two principal German defendants of the Einsatzgruppen “commandoes” trial in Nuernberg, in the dock preparing their final pleas during a court recess.Telford Taylor Papers; Box 214, Folder 113; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Educating ourselves about the historical events associated with the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust also plays an integral role in coming to terms with its horrible memories. The Telford Taylor Papers provide one such important educational tool. In the Papers, scholars from many disciplines will find the papers a rich primary source for the International Military Tribunal (1945-46) and the Nuremberg Military Trials (1946-49). Beyond the trial transcripts, correspondence, speeches and writings will enable students and academics to trace the fifty-year development of Taylor’s nuanced conception of the Nuremberg Trials and their historical importance as he witnessed such events as the Adolf Eichmann trial and the Vietnam War.

Dr. Leo Alexander, Boston psychiatrist and neurologist, called to witness stand along with witness Jadwiga Dzido of Warsaw, Poland. Telford Taylor Papers; Box 213, Folder 79; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

In conclusion, the Telford Taylor Papers represent an integral part of the Columbia University Libraries archival mission – to foster the global exchange of ideas, to promote world class scholarship, and to train highly skilled human rights advocates. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, therefore, we as citizen advocates honor the victims of the Shoah by recommitting ourselves to the precedent of the Nuremberg Trials and guaranteeing the peace and human dignity of all persons through a world order established under the rule of law.