Welcoming remarks: Barbara Faedda (Italian Academy for Advanced Studies, Columbia University)
Speakers: Krista Hegburg (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies) “Unknown Holocaust”: Roma and Sinti in Hitler’s Europe
Rob Kushen (Executive Director, European Roma Rights Centre) Roma in Today’s Europe: Contemporary Patterns of Prejudice and Discrimination
Europe and the United Nations commemorate the victims of the Shoah each winter on the date of Auschwitz’s liberation in 1945, and the Italian Academy marks Holocaust Remembrance Day with an annual academic event exploring issues of discrimination and crimes against humanity.
Along with the millions of Jews who suffered and died, other minority groups were targeted in the racism and xenophobia of the Nazi and Fascist regimes. The Roma and Sinti (known as Gypsies) were also judged to be "racially inferior," and they faced a fate not dissimilar to that of the Jews. This year, the Italian Academy's Holocaust Remembrance event broadens the focus to look at the plight of this other "racially inferior" group in German-occupied Europe of the 1940s and in present-day Europe.
About the Speakers: Krista Hegburg is a Program Officer at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where she coordinates research workshops, endowed lectures, and other conferences and symposia. She is currently finishing her Ph.D. in the Department of Anthropology at Columbia University. Her dissertation, “Aftermath: Accounting for the Holocaust in the Czech Republic, 1945-2005,” examines Holocaust reparations projects that address minority communities, particularly Romani, within the context of contemporary Czech liberalism, as well as the history of redress for Nazi persecution in Czechoslovakia. Ms. Hegburg taught for two years in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She has also taught at the University of Lower Silesia in Wroclaw, Poland, where she was a co-founder of the International Institute for the Study of Culture and Education. She is the recipient of many fellowships, including a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award (2003-4) and a Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellowship at the Center (2005-6). She is also a co-organizer of the Everyday Life in the Camps project, an international interdisciplinary research project that assembles junior and senior Holocaust scholars in history, sociology, literature, and anthropology from several North American, European, and Israeli institutions to examine primary source documents in order to analyze lived experience in the camps through the lens of everyday history and ethnography.
Robert Kushen is the Executive Director of the European Roma Rights Centre, an international NGO using legal advocacy, including strategic litigation, to protect the rights of Roma throughout Europe. He has been active in the human rights field in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union for over 20 years, beginning in 1988 when he helped the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights establish its first program in the Soviet Union, and as a Schell Fellow at Human Rights Watch in 1990-91, where he led research and reporting on human rights abuses in the Soviet Union. From 1996-99 and 2003-07, he served in a number of positions at the Open Society Institute, including Director of International Operations from 2004-07. At OSI he was responsible for a number of human rights programming areas, including initiatives focusing on Roma rights and disability rights.
He has also been active in the area of health, human rights and development. From 1999 to 2002, he was the Executive Director of Doctors of the World, a non-governmental organization committed to addressing health care problems caused by human rights abuses in the U.S. and around the world. In 2007-08, he served as the Executive Director of the Harvard PEPFAR Program, an $80 million/year program that provides HIV treatment services to 100,000 patients and related technical assistance to health care workers in Africa.
From 1991-96, he served in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State, where he worked as counsel to the bureau on counterterrorism, liaison to the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and negotiated a number of international agreements in the areas of scientific and environmental cooperation.
He holds a J.D. from Columbia University, a B.A. from Harvard College in Russian Studies, and is the author of a number of publications in the area of human rights and non-profit law. He is a member of the New York Bar Association and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of several NGOs dealing with human rights, health and development issues.