2014 Annual Seminar for Seminary and Religious Studies Faculty

Moral Dilemmas and Moral Choice in the Holocaust: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Pius XII as Case Studies in Religious Leadership, June 23–27. Apply by February 24, 2014.

The Museum’s Program on Ethics, Religions, and the Holocaust is pleased to announce its annual seminar for faculty from all disciplines but particularly for professors of theology, ethics, and religion at theological schools and other institutions of advanced education.

Holocaust history provides complex, often troubling examples of the responses of religious groups, theologians, and leaders from across Europe. As two of the most studied religious figures of this era, German Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Catholic pontiff Pope Pius XII offer significant insights into the larger theological, ecclesial, and political issues that shaped Christian reactions to National Socialism and the Holocaust. Bonhoeffer, a young Confessing Church pastor and theologian, eventually became involved in the conspiracy to overthrow the Nazi regime and was executed by the Nazis in 1945. Eugenio Pacelli was the Vatican’s secretary of state until he became Pope Pius XII in 1939. Both men have their defenders and critics, particularly with respect to their responses to the persecution of the Jews. This seminar will explore the historical and theological complexities of their respective roles, as well as their legacies in shaping Christian understandings of the Holocaust after 1945.

Participants will also have the opportunity to learn more about Museum resources for teaching and to consult and interact with Museum staff and visiting scholars. Learn more about the Museum’s programs on the history of the churches during the Holocaust.

Seminar Leaders

Victoria Barnett and Robert Ventresca will co-lead the seminar.

Victoria Barnett directs the Museum’s programs on ethics, religion, and the Holocaust. She is a general editor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English edition—the translation of the complete 16-volume writings of Bonhoeffer being published by Fortress Press—and author of Bystanders: Conscience and Complicity during the Holocaust (1999) and For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest against Hitler (1992).

Robert Ventresca is associate professor of history at King’s University College at Western University in London, Ontario (Canada), and the author of Soldier of Christ: The Life of Pope Pius XII (2013). He is also the author of From Fascism to Democracy: Culture and Politics in the Italian Election of 1948 (2004), which received an honorable mention for the Canadian Historical Association’s Wallace K. Ferguson Prize. He was a founding member and inaugural co-chair of the former Center for Catholic-Jewish Learning at King’s University College at Western University.

To Apply

Applicants must be faculty members at accredited, degree-awarding institutions in North America.

Applications must include:

  1. A curriculum vitae
  2. A statement of the applicant’s specific interest and purpose for attending the seminar
  3. A supporting letter from a departmental chair or dean addressing the applicant’s qualifications and the institution’s potential interest in having Holocaust-related courses taught

The Center will select a maximum of 20 applicants for admission, without regard to age, gender, race, creed, or national origin. For no-local participants, the Center will (1) reimburse the cost of direct travel to and from the participant’s home institution and Washington, DC, up to but not exceeding $600; and (2) defray the cost of lodging for the duration of the course. Incidental, meal, and book expenses must be defrayed by the candidates or their respective institutions. All participants must attend the entire seminar.

Applications must be postmarked, faxed, or e-mailed by Monday, February 24, 2014, to:

Dr. Victoria Barnett

University Programs

Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW

Washington, DC 20024-2150

(Fax) 202.479.9726


The Center will notify all applicants of the results of the selection process by Monday, March 24, 2014.


For questions, please contact Victoria Barnett at 202.488.0469 or vbarnett(at)ushmm.org.

This seminar is made possible by the Hoffberger Family Fund and by Joseph A. and Janeal Cannon and Family.

Editorial remarks

Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.