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HGS student journal

Gratz College's Student-Led Journal for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

the words %22Their Trace%22


How does one mourn for six million people who died? How many candles does one light? How many prayers does one recite? Do we know how to remember the victims, their solitude, their helplessness? They left us without a trace, and we are their trace."               
​                                                                                ~Elie Wiesel, 2001 Day of Remembrance Address


About Their Trace:

We strive to create an academic forum for scholars to share their research and musings on Holocaust and Genocide related themes.  We welcome research, personal narratives, reflections, book or media reviews, and artistic works from students and professionals at all stages of their career.  Gratz College students are invited to play a role on the editorial board; please email

Volume 1, Issue 1 -- January 2020

Editor's note by Emily Bengels
Research into Holocaust and Genocide Studies is crucial; we must honor those who came before us by doing all to prevent further atrocities.  We must strive to understand what happened in the Holocaust, in Armenia, in Guatemala, Bosnia, Cambodia, Darfur and so much more so we can know when and how to see the signs of genocide in each coming age, and our current one.  In our scholarship, we learn from the traces left by rescuers, journalists, survivors, historians, theologians, and so many others. Here, in this journal, we add our voices to the field, too.  This first edition presents our research and reflections on the heroism, horror and human experience of the inhumanity of genocide. A special thank you to Dr. Paul Finkelman for his encouragement in lighting the spark for this project. A special thank you to Dr. Monika Rice for her belief in the project, each step of the way. A final special thank you to Donna Guerin for her help putting this website together.

In this issue: 

  • "Albania: The Country That Actually Saved Jews During the Holocaust"   Stephen D. Kulla, Gratz College
    • On the eve of World War II, Albania, situated on the Balkan Peninsula in South East Europe remained an impoverished feudal kingdom, greatly inaccessible to
      the outside world.  In 1935, this predominatly Muslim country sported a Jewish population of but 156 documented residents. Yet, despite its demographics, Albania not only protected its Jewish population from the Nazis, but offered refuge to Jews from whereever they came, to such extent that Albania is noted to be the only European country to be able to arguably claim that every Jew within its borders was spared from death during the Holocaust.  The explanation for this occurrence is summed up by one word: Besa, an honor code unique to Albania, which simply means "to keep the promise."


  • "Honoring Carl Lutz: Reflecting on the Memorialization of a Forgotten Hero"   Giorgia Ricciardi, University of Victoria
    • This piece looks at Carl Lutz, Swiss diplomat to Budapest 1942-1945, and his role in organizing what would become the largest Jewish rescue operation during the Holocaust. It considers the ways in which Lutz could be commemorated more effectively in Switzerland, so that his name may be more known by the Swiss as well as international community. 
  • "Sexual Humiliation in Concentration Camps"   Jenna Walmer, West Chester University
    • This article focuses on the sexual humiliation during the concentration camps. By analyzing memoirs and first-hand accounts of women during the Holocaust, we can better understand the the female experience. These accounts better portray women's emotions towards bodily shaving, nudity, and menstruation in concentration camps. 

  • "Children’s Picture Book Portrayals of Women in Holocaust Concentration Camps"   Melissa Mikel, Gratz College

    • This article focuses on the sexual humiliation during the concentration camps. By analyzing memoirs and first-hand accounts of women during the Holocaust, we can better understand the the female experience. These accounts better portray women's emotions towards bodily shaving, nudity, and menstruation in concentration camps. 

  • "The Unprecedented Nature of the Holocaust and its Implications"   Sherri Neuwirth, Kean University

    • While there were aspects of the Holocaust which are common to all genocides, there are several ways in which it was unprecedented.  While this essay identifies the commonalities, the focus is on the aspects of the Holocaust which were unprecedented. These include:  totality, universality, ideology, racism, and Jewish history, culture, and values. The issues that led to the unprecedented nature of the Holocaust as well as the reasons for it being important to understand these unprecedented characteristics are also discussed.

  • "The Morality of the Treatment of the Immoral: The Capture, Trial and Execution of Adolf Eichmann"   Stephen D. Kulla, Gratz College

    • On May 1960, Adolf Eichmann was seized by Israeli operatives in Argentina, and transported to Israel for trial, for war crimes committed in Europe during the Holocaust.  The paper, written by an attorney with thirty years of experience, considers the legality of such action from various perspectives, and ultimately asks the question of whether there ever is a situation where, regardless of all intervening circumstances, the end trumps the means.

  • "An Analysis of Nazi Propaganda and Techniques of Neutralization: Justifying Antisemitism and the Nationwide Jewish Economic Boycott of April 1, 1933"   John Paul, Gratz College

    • On April 1, 1933, three months after the Nazis came to power, the executive leadership of Germany decided to stage a nationwide economic boycott of Jewish owned businesses. In many ways, this boycott—and the propaganda generated to legitimize it—can be considered the start of organized administrative and cultural actions against Jews that progressed to, and culminated in, the “Final Solution.” Given the grievous legacy that emerged from this event, this work returns to April 1, 1933 and re-examines the propaganda used by Germany to justify the action. Specifically, I reconnoiter American newspapers for a review of themes and explanations of Nazi-Germany’s political intent and action. Here, I am interested in how Nazi propaganda and anti-Jewish falsehoods became presented as part of a “global discourse” and a global “mythology” used by the Nazis to encourage the international acceptance of a fabricated reality.

  • "Why You Can’t Say Anything to Aunt Luba: a story"   Danielle Popovski, Hofstra University  
    • When I interviewed my great-aunt about her youth, I expected a fairy tale, but instead I learned the most important ‘tale’ of my family: the story of a young woman’s escape from communist Yugoslavia. This is the story, as told to me in the twilight years of her life, of how a young girl’s bravery became her legacy.  This is the story of how Aunt Luba gave me my freedom by fleeing her oppressive homeland.
  • "Why? Holocaust Survivors Reflect on God"     Emily Bengels, Gratz College
    • The Holocaust affected survivors’ beliefs in many different ways.  Some became more devout; others rejected God. This research explores segments of oral histories in the Shoah Foundation archives to see how various survivors in the United States explained their post-Holocaust relgious experience.


Copyright: All articles in this issue carry Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

Call for Submissions: Their Trace accepts work on a rolling basis. The open access journal is published biannually by Gratz College in cooperation with the Tuttleman Library and HGS department. We encourage contributors to choose a Creative Commmons license when releasing their work. All rights are retained by the author and are not the property of Gratz College. For more information, contact Emily Bengels at      

Download our Submission Form Here

Gratz Students: If you are interested in playing a role on the editorial board, please email  Your input would be most welcome.

For more information about the Gratz College Holocaust and Genocide Studies Programs click here. 

a man wearing a suit sitting and speaking
someone holding a book on their lap with crossed hands
a pile of black metal face masks
a child grasping a barbed wire fence