Colgate professor Peter Balakian’s essay about the villa where Nazi SS leaders made the plan to annihilate the Jews of Europe was published this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The essay comes as events are scheduled around the world in observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is January 27. That day recognizes the date that Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz death camp in Poland in 1945.
Balakian is again teaching a course this semester on the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide. In the essay, he reflects on a personal visit to the Lake Wannsee villa, just outside Berlin, that today includes a small museum and memorial.
“The Wannsee Conference, held as Hitler’s war entered its third year, was to decide the major issues surrounding “the solution to the Jewish Question,” a Nazi euphemism that discloses how perpetrators of genocide falsified language to sanitize their mass-killing plans. “Amtssprache,” Eichmann once called such language. “Officialese.’”
Balakian, director of creative writing at Colgate, is the author of six books of poems as well as numerous books including The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, a New York Times notable book and best seller. His memoir Black Dog of Fatewon the PEN/Albrand Prize and was a New York Times notable book.