Raul Hilberg Papers
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains the personal papers of Raul Hilberg--professor at the University of Vermont from 1955 until 1991 and scholar credited as one of the first to systematically and comprehensively study the Holocaust. The materials within include general correspondence, documents pertaining to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, book reviews which cover Hilberg’s major publications, collected newspaper and journal articles, research materials and notes, war crime trial documents, an assortment of published materials ranging from academic to popular journals, and finally a collection of documents which cover Hilberg’s tenure at the University of Vermont. Roughly estimated, these documents span the years 1948 to 2007.
The organization of this collection incorporates both topical and chronological methods. ‘General Correspondence’ is arranged chronologically, but also includes a separate section arranged alphabetically, which incorporates the letters of significant scholars, family members and friends. Documents from the United States Holocaust Memorial Council are arranged chronologically, and articles are arranged by subject and language of publication, and appear chronologically within each of these divisions. Book reviews are organized by publication, and by subsequent translations and editions. Thus, The Destruction of the European Jews for example, includes folders for the first and second edition, as well as the French and German translations. Journal publications and conference materials are arranged chronologically. Research materials and notes, and also all University of Vermont documents are arranged roughly by subject, and the section entitled, ‘Publications’ is arranged in alphabetical order.
Significant topics of interest include, the correspondence between Hilberg and other contemporary Holocaust scholars such as Christopher Browning, Henry Friedlander and Michael Marrus; the creation and founding of the President’s Memorial Council in 1978 and its transformation into the Holocaust Memorial Council under President Bush, Senior; the plans pertaining to the construction and content of the Holocaust Memorial Museum as documented through various committee minutes, memorandum and correspondence; the international response to the publication and subsequent editions of Hilberg’s magnum opus, The Destruction of the European Jews; the international reception to Hilberg’s other major works including Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders, Sonderzϋge nach Auschwitz, The Politics of Memory and The Warsaw Diary of Adam Czerniakow; the trial proceedings of suspected war criminals and Holocaust deniers; the critical reception to Claude Lanzemann’s seminal film “Shoah”; the articles and correspondence pertaining to Daniel Goldhagen’s controversial book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners; and the ongoing work of the Presidential Search Committee at the University of Vermont. It will be important for researchers to note that although these topics generally appear as subcategories within these larger series, certain topics may recur in multiple places in the collection. The Goldhagen debate for example, appears as a subcategory within the ‘Articles’ section, but one would also be able to find further information about this topic in the correspondence section.
The format of the materials within this collection include journal articles, meeting minutes, trial transcripts, newspaper articles, academic publications, personal and official letters, memorandums, interview transcripts, photocopied archival material, published works, financial forms and promotional pamphlets and posters for conferences and lectures. Other materials include published atlases, maps, a small collection of photographs and book covers.
- Hilberg, Raul (Person)
Collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the University Archivist.
Raul Hilberg was born on 2 June 1926 in Vienna, Austria. In 1938 his family was forced to flee Europe just prior to the Anschluss, and settled temporarily in Paris before travelling to Cuba. Hilberg along with his mother and father entered the United States on 1 September 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War. Towards the end of the War, Hilberg enlisted in the U.S. army and fought overseas. While abroad, the military utilized his fluency in German, employing him as a translator in the War Documentation Department. When he returned from overseas he finished his undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College in 1948, and later earned his Masters and Doctoral degrees in Political Science from Columbia University. Initially, Franz Neumann, the author of Behemoth, served as his advisor, but after his untimely and unexpected death in 1954, William T. Fox, took on Hilberg as his student, allowing him to complete his graduate work. Hilberg, in his autobiography, The Politics of Memory, refers to Fox, as an academic guardian, noting particularly his hand in securing his position at the University of Vermont in 1956.
Given that the fate of the Jews in Europe had not yet been widely or thoroughly studied, Hilberg struggled to find a publisher for his doctoral thesis. After being rejected by Princeton University Press, and Yad Vashem, Quadrangle Press published his thesis under the title, The Destruction of the European Jews in 1961. Although his work garnered little attention at first, it marked the first comprehensive and thoroughly researched study of the Holocaust. His work represented the Nazi regime as a vast, impersonal bureaucracy. Hilberg sought to systematically detail the ways in which the Nazi regime brought about the annihilation of the Jews of Europe. While in later years, academics would recognize and laud his work as crucial in the establishment and formation of Holocaust studies, it faced harsh criticism from leaders in the Jewish community, who saw it as unfairly condemnatory of Jewish resistance during the War. Though he would update his work in two later editions, these sections would remain unchanged. Later works by Hilberg, including The Diary of Adam Czerniakow, a translation of the personal writings of the Judenrat leader, published in 1979, as well as Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders, published in 1992, garnered considerable praise, and in part offset the criticisms of The Destruction. In addition The Politics of Memory, published in 1996, details his early life in Vienna, and focuses primarily on the early formulation of his doctoral thesis, and the difficulties he faced when attempting to publish it.
Though Hilberg initially taught in both Puerto Rico and Hunter College in the early 1950s, he spent the majority of his academic career, from 1956 to 1991, at the University of Vermont as a member of the Political Science Department. During his time there, he served as the Department Chair, and participated in the Presidential Search Committee in the 1970s. Apart from his work at the University, he served on the President’s Commission on the Holocaust in 1979, and continued on with the Commission after its transformation under President George Bush Senior into the United States Holocaust Memorial Commission. Donating his time and expertise, Hilberg played a crucial role in the Commission’s main project, the founding and creation of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. In 2002 Hilberg received the Geschwister-Scholl-Preis for his work Die Quellen des Holocaust (Sources of the Holocaust), and in 2006, Germany awarded him the Order of Merit, which is the highest recognition that can be paid to a non-German. Hilberg was married twice, first to Christine Hemingway and then to Gwendolyn Montgomery in 1980. By his first marriage he had two children, David and Deborah. He died of Lung Cancer on August 4th, 2007 in Williston, Vermont at the age of eighty-one. Additional Sources for Further Reading
1.Martin, Douglas, “Raul Hilberg, 81, Historian Who Wrote of the Holocaust as Bureaucracy, Dies,” The New York Times, August 7th, 2007.
2.Hilberg, Raul, The Politics of Memory: the journey of a Holocaust historian (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1996).
3.Browning, Christopher. "Hilberg, Raul." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Eds. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 9. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 100-102. 22 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. University of Vermont Libraries. 1 Mar. 2010 http://find.galegroup.com/gvrl/infomark.do?&contentSet=EBKS&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=GVRL&docId=CX2587508935&source=gale&userGroupName=vol_b92b&version=1.0
4.Berenbaum, Michael, “A Remembrance of Raul Hilberg” http://amgathering.com/2007/08/2609/a-remembrance-of-raul-hilberg-by-michael-berenbaum/
5.Bauer, Yehuda, “A human being without fault” http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/907398.html
6.“Paid Notice: Deaths, Hilberg, Raul” in The New York Times, August 9th, 2007 http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E5D7133AF93AA3575BC0A9619C8B63&scp=2&sq=hilberg&st=cse
7.“Raul Hilberg” in The Rutland Herald, August 6th, 2007 http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070806/OBITUARIES/708060352/1010/OBITUARIES
20 Linear Feet (20 Cartons)
Language of Materials
This collection contains the personal papers of Raul Hilberg--professor at the University of Vermont from 1955 until 1991 and scholar credited as one of the first to systematically and comprehensively study the Holocaust. The materials within include general correspondence, documents pertaining to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, book reviews which cover Hilberg’s major publications, collected newspaper and journal articles, research materials and notes, war crime trial documents, an assortment of published materials ranging from academic to popular journals, and finally a collection of documents which cover Hilberg’s tenure at the University of Vermont.
Silver Special Collections, Billings Library
- Guide to the Raul Hilberg Papers
- Michelle Magin
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script