John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History
Areas of Interest: Modern European History, modern warfare, Nazism, Holocaust, genocide, interethnic relations, borderlands, modern Jewish history.
Born in Israel and educated at Tel Aviv University and St. Antony's College, Oxford, Omer Bartov's early research concerned the Nazi indoctrination of the Wehrmacht and the crimes it committed in World War II, analyzed in his books, The Eastern Front, 1941-1945 (1985) and Hitler’s Army (1991). He then turned to the links between total war and genocide, discussed in his books Murder in Our Midst (1996), Mirrors of Destruction (2000), and Germany’s War and the Holocaust (2003), as well as to the role of stereotypes in representations of violence, leading to his study, The “Jew” in Cinema (2005). Bartov’s growing interest in Eastern Europe is reflected in his study Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine (2007), which investigates the politics of memory in the borderlands of Eastern Europe. As a framework for this research, he led a multi-year collaborative project at the Watson Institute, culminating in the co-edited volume, Shatterzone of Empires. Bartov's most recent book is Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (2018), where he reconstructs the transition of an interethnic community from long-term coexistence to genocidal violence. He is now working on a monograph titled "Tales from a Vanished World: Small-Town Galician Encounter Modernity." Bartov directed the project “Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples” at the Watson Institute in 2015-2018, and now heads a three-year student exchange program between Brown and the Hebrew University. He is in the early stages of researching a book on “Israel, Palestine: A Personal Political History.”
My new book, Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz, investigates the dynamic that transforms a community of coexistence into one of genocide. Composed of a mixed Jewish-Polish-Ukrainian population for centuries, in World War II Buczacz experienced the murder of its Jewish inhabitants by Germans and local collaborators, and the ethnic cleansing of its Polish population by Ukrainian nationalists. While the general outlines of the Holocaust are known, the manner in which genocide unfolded on the ground is not well understood. By delving deeper into the past and providing the perspective of all groups involved in the event, I argue, we can better grasp local genocide.
My next research project, “Israel, Palestine: A Personal Political History,” will examine the links to the land by the first generation of Jews and Palestinians born into the newly established state of Israel.
Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples, edited volume (New York: Berghahn Books, forthcoming 2020).
Voices on War and Genocide: Three Accounts of the Two World Wars in One Galician Town, edited (New York: Berghahn Books, forthcoming June 2020).
Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018).
The Holocaust: Origins, Implementation, Aftermath, edited volume, completely revised second edition (London and New York: Routledge, 2015).
Shatterzone of Empires: Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands, edited volume with Eric D. Weitz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013).
Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2007).
The “Jew” in Cinema: From The Golem to Don’t Touch My Holocaust (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2005).
Germany’s War and the Holocaust: Disputed Histories (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003).
Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples I – Nationalism, Settler Colonialism, Decolonization (undergraduate seminar)
AY 2018-2019 on leave
Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples II – Future Scenarios (undergraduate seminar)
First Person History in Times of Crisis: Witnessing, Memory, Fiction (graduate seminar)
Brown Alumni Magazine, May-June 2018: “What Would You Do,” by Julia M. Klein.
Connecticut radio show “Talk of the Town”, hosted by Steve Noxon, February 22, 2018.
SiriusXM “Rabbi Wechsler Teaches,” February 22, 2018.
1001 Heroes, Legends, Histories and Mysteries, February 11, 2018.
WNRI’s “The Author’s Hour”, Rhode Island, February 20, 2018
The John Batchelor Show Part 1 & Part 2, January 30, 31, 2018
Harvard Coop book event, February 12, 2018
Kelly McFall podcast, January 30, 2018
Interview on Anatomy of a Genocide for the Smithsonian: January 26, 2018
Story in the Public Square, the weekly southeast New England PBS and SiriusXM Satellite radio, taped January 23, 2018