Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Omer Bartov

John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History


Born in Israel and educated in Israel and Oxford University, Omer Bartov's early research concerned Nazi indoctrination and the crimes of the Wehrmacht in World War II, analyzed in his books, The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, and Hitler's Army. He then turned to the links between total war and genocide, discussed in his books Murder in Our Midst, Mirrors of Destruction, and Germany's War and the Holocaust. Bartov's interest in representation also led to his study, The "Jew" in Cinema. His growing interest in Eastern Europe was reflected in his books Erased and, most recently, Anatomy of a Genocide, as well as in the multi-year project “Borderlands” and the co-edited volume, Shatterzone of Empires. During 2015-2018 he directed the project “Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples,” at the Watson Institute, convening five international workshops and a closing conference. Bartov in now writing a book tentatively titled “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: An Initiative Led by Omer Bartov


Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018)

“Buczacz,” Oxford Bibliographies online (2018)

 “The Holocaust,” in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Third Reich, ed. Robert Gellately (Oxford University Press, 2018)

“The Holocaust as Genocide: Experiential Uniqueness and Integrated History,” in Probing the Ethics of Holocaust Culture, ed. Claudio Fogu, Wulf Kansteiner, Todd Presner (Harvard University Press, 2016),

“H. G. Adler and First Person History,” in H. G. Adler: Life, Literature, Legacy, ed. Julia Creet, Sara R. Horowitz, and Amira Bojadzija-Dan (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2016)

“Genocide and the Holocaust: Arguments over History and Politics,” in Lessons and Legacies, vol. XI, ed. Karl Schleunes and Hilary Earl (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2014)

“The Voice of Your Brother’s Blood: Reconstructing Genocide on the Local Level,” in Jewish Histories of the Holocaust: New Transnational Approaches, ed. Norman J. W. Goda (New York: Berghahn Books, 2014)


Fall 2017
HIST 1969A - Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples

Spring 2018
HIST 1969B - Israel-Palestine: Lands and PeoplesHIST2980W - First Person History in Times of Crisis

News|Recent News

Republicans attack Jewish candidates across the U.S. with an age-old caricature: Fistfuls of cash (comments by Omer Bartov)

November 6, 2018 The Washington Post

Professor Omer Bartov said he saw similarities between contemporary Republicans' campaign posters of Jewish opponents holding fistfuls of cash and famous Nazi posters from the 1940s. “Much of the rhetoric is about how the left is going to destroy everything, destroy the economy, bring this invasion of barbarians — all of this was very much part of fascist and Nazi xenophobia.”


Review: "Anatomy of a Genocide," in its focus on one town, is a landmark of Holocaust literature (Omer Bartov featured)

February 16, 2018 The Providence Journal

"To the list of landmark genocide studies must now be added Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz, Brown University Prof. Omer Bartov’s masterfully researched and hauntingly rendered history of atrocities committed against — and by — the religiously and ethnically mixed former residents of a place that today is part of Ukraine."


When Mass Murder Is an Intimate Affair (Omer Bartov featured)

January 29, 2018 Smithsonian

Omer Bartov joins Smithsonian.com to discuss his new book "Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz." "The story of Buczacz is the story of genocide as it unfolded in one town, but also the larger story of how such mass atrocities can transpire in communities the world over."


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