The History of Genocide Initiative

The History of Genocide Initiative

In 2009, the Center for Jewish History embarked on a landmark, multidisciplinary initiative with the generous support of the David Berg Foundation, The Einhorn Charitable Trust and The Pershing Square Foundation. The History of Genocide Initiative explored and informed the public about Raphael Lemkin’s life and the impact of his work on modern society. After learning of the killing of millions of Armenians in 1915, Lemkin, a young lawyer in Warsaw, coined the term “genocide” and waged an international campaign that achieved the adoption of the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The initiative consisted of a major international conference in which experts from around the world examined Lemkin’s work from the perspectives of law, culture, society and economics; a museum exhibition on Lemkin’s life and legacy that featured many of his personal papers and original documents; a dedicated website that displays the exhibition online with digital images of the documents and videos of the conference talks; a series of public programs; and an advanced screening of the PBS documentary “Worse Than War,” based on the newest book by noted author and political scientist Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. In many ways, the Initiative served as a capstone on much of the work the Center has focused on for the last ten years.

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