Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Omer Bartov

John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History

Biography

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.”

Research

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

Publications

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).

Teaching

Fall 2019:

Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples I – Nationalism, Settler Colonialism, Decolonization (undergraduate seminar)

AY 2018-2019 on leave 

Spring 2018: 

Israel-Palestine: Lands and Peoples II – Future Scenarios (undergraduate seminar)

First Person History in Times of Crisis: Witnessing, Memory, Fiction (graduate seminar)

Talks & Media

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

News|Recent News

Partitions: A Global Perspective

December 4, 2019

In November 2019, Omer Bartov organized the workshop “Partitions: A Global Perspective,” alonsgide Arie Dubnov (George Washington University) to initiate an interdisciplinary academic dialogue between established and junior scholars who study partition from different angles. 

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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.”

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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."

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