Kingsborough Holocaust Center
About Kingsborough Holocaust Center
Dr. Elke Weesjes (Sabella) is Research and Programming Director at the Kingsborough Holocaust Center, an Adjunct Assistant Professor of History, and an editorial board member of the peer-reviewed journal Twentieth Century Communism, A Journal of International History (Lawrence and Wishart, London). Her work has been published by outlets including Journal of Labor and Society; Children Youth, and Environments; The Psychologist; Twentieth Century Communism, A Journal of International History; Tijdschrift for Genderstudies; Biografie Bulletin; Natural Hazards Observer; Historiek; Labour/Le Travail; AllAfrica; Business Insider; Buzzfeed News; and ABC News.
She is the author of Growing Up Communist in the Netherlands and Britain: Childhood, Political Activism, and Identity Formation (Amsterdam University Press, 2021) and Mama las Marx: communistische gezinnen in naoorlogs Nederland (Mazirel Pers, 2023).
Dr. Weesjes has done extensive research into the Dutch communist resistance against the Nazis, and the impact of the Cold War on the commemoration of resistance fighters and recognition of their efforts. As part of this research, she conducted a series of interviews with 28 children of communist resistance fighters.
Her current research examines the process of radicalization in the United States and analyzes the lives and experiences of ordinary men and women who joined the Ku Klux Klan in the twentieth century. Based on a series of interviews with children of Ku Klux Klan members (born between 1945-1970), auto/biographies, archival materials, and existing KKK historiography, her project explores what it was like to grow up on the political fringes of American society in the latter part of the 20th century.
At Kingsborough, Dr. Weesjes teaches HIS4400: The Nazi Holocaust and various other history courses.
Dr. Megan Brandow-Faller is Professor of History at the City University of New York (CUNY) Kingsborough and also teaches at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research focuses on art and design in Secessionist and interwar Vienna, including children’s art and artistic toys of the Vienna Secession; expressionist ceramics of the Wiener Werkstätte; folk art and modernism; and women’s art education. She is the editor of Childhood by Design: Toys and the Material Culture of Childhood, 1700-present (Bloomsbury 2018) and the author of The Female Secession: Art and the Decorative at the Viennese Women’s Academy (Penn State University Press, 2020) and co-editor (with Laura Morowitz) of Erasures and Eradications in Modern Viennese Art Architecture and Design (Routledge, Forthcoming). Brandow-Faller was pleased to contribute two catalogue essays for the forthcoming retrospective exhibition Die Frauen der Wiener Werkstätte at Vienna’s Museum of Applied Arts (opening 2021). Her newest project focuses on the dissemination and popularization of Secessionist ideas of child creativity in postwar America.
Lea Fridman is a senior member of the Kingsborough Department of English with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and a strong arts and interdisciplinary background. As a graduate student in the ’70’s, she participated in pioneering conferences in Holocaust studies and literature. This was a watershed moment in Holocaust studies which led to spin-off disciplines in trauma studies, genocide studies and more.
Her own work of literary criticism, Words and Witness: Narrative and Aesthetic Strategies in the Representations of the Holocaust (SUNY 2000), is a study of the techniques employed by writers in their effort to find the words adequate to experiences that are utterly beyond words.
On a personal level she has been deeply shaped by the experiences of her parents:
her father who survived Buchenwald and other camps; her mother, who spent the war
years as a Bielski partisan in the Polish woods. Both were the only survivors of
large families. Those losses were formative to Fridman’s moral and intellectual development:
to her understanding of race in America, to the prevalence of group think, its role
in politics and of so much more.
Fridman’s magical realist play, W/Hole in the Heart,used the setting of a Passover seder to tell a few of those family stories. Directed by Robert Kalfin the play was produced at the Cardozo School of Law and in other venues in New York and Tel Aviv. One outgrowth of her work culminated in the 2009 conference which she led and organized, “From the Slave System of the American South to the Forced Labor System of Leopold’s Congo," sponsored by the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies. More recently she has published in the fields of theater criticism and music.
Dr. Debra L. Schultz is Associate Professor of History and the author of Going South: Jewish Women in the Civil Rights Movement (New York University Press, 2001). At the International Center for Transitional Justice, she served as Senior Research Associate of the Memory, Memorials, and Museums Program, where she co-authored Memory and Justice: Confronting Past Atrocity and Human Rights Abuse (2008). Her KCC Holocaust-related work includes teaching 20th century European history, organizing student roundtables with Holocaust survivors, and collaborating with Witness Theater. A member of the CUNY Chancellor’s Commission on Racial/Ethnic Studies and the founding program director of the Open Society Institute’s International Women’s Program, her work on the history, theory, and practice of intersectional anti-racist feminisms encompasses both U.S. women’s civil rights activism and European Romani women’s rights activism. Her current research examines public memorialization of the U.S. civil rights movement, drawing on lessons learned from Holocaust memorialization. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Teagle Foundation, Facing History and Ourselves, and the American Council of Learned Societies/Mellon Foundation.
Dr. Janina Seltzer L. Selzer received her PhD in Sociology at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her dissertation examines how Yazidi and Chaldean Iraqi refugees develop a sense of belonging in the two disempowered cities of Bielefeld, Germany, and Detroit, Michigan.
In her work, she studies the intersection of race, immigration, and gender in an urban context. More specifically, she is interested in the ways in which those inequalities become inscribed in space and how spatial boundaries are constantly contested and redefined. She has received fellowships from the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, the Advanced Research Collaborative, the Manfred-Rommel-Stipendium der Landeshauptstadt Stuttgart, as well as the Doctoral Student Grant Program at CUNY. Her work has been published in Ethnic and Racial Studies and metropolitics.
During the 2021/2022 academic year, she served as a student writing fellow at Kingsborough Community College.
Before moving to the U.S., Selzer worked as a volunteer for the Stolperstein Initiative. The grassroots art initiative by German artist Gunter Demnig is committed to commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. She sees her research as an extension of this work by centering the ways in which the legacies of intersecting forms of oppression continue to shape the lives of marginalized communities in contemporary urban societies. In 2021, she curated the discussion series Be:longing – Belonging in a Diverse Society at the StadtPalais Stuttgart. The series brought together scholars, as well as people from civil society to reflect on the various facets of belonging and the prerequisites for an inclusive society.
Dr. Cheryl Hogue Smith is a Professor of English and a Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum Co-Coordinator at Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York. For several years, she has taught a unit about degenerate art as a lesson against antisemitism and racial nationalism; she has a chapter about teaching degenerate art, “Teaching the Past to Protect the Future: Degenerate Art as a Modern-Day Cultural Warning,” in the forthcoming book Challenging Antisemitism: Lessons from Literacy Classrooms. She has published articles in TETYC, JBW, JAAL, English Journal, JTW, California English, and Midsummer Magazine(Utah Shakespeare Festival) and chapters in What is “College-Level” Writing? (vol.2, NCTE) andDeep Reading, Deep Learning.
Robert Schacter has been working in Academic Affairs at Kingsborough since August 2013. He currently works on the Student Success team providing administrative support to Dean Yelena Bondar. He also serves as an advisor for Kingsborough’s local Phi Theta Kappa chapter and works closely with the Grade and Tuition Appeal committee, and also helps plan a number of campus-based events including the Awards Ceremony and the Faculty Achievements Recognition Ceremony. In his spare time, Robert enjoys spending time outdoors with his family or playing soccer with his 10-year-old son, and also loves to read, watch movies, visit museums and play music.
Samuel Bykov was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1940, the year before World War II. When the German Nazis occupied Odessa, he and his family were captured and imprisoned at the Bogdanovka extermination camp in the Odessa district, in the modern-day Nikolayev district of Ukraine. In January 1941, his family was brought to the camp, among over 54,000 other captured Jewish people. Over the next 45 days, 54,600 were killed, and Mr. Bykov was among the 127 survivors, along with his sister, mother and grandmother, who were all transported to the ghetto. In 1944, the Russian army liberated them from the Jewish ghetto.
Mark Eaton is a Reader Services Librarian and Associate Professor at the Kingsborough Library. He enjoys working on technology projects to support his community. He holds advanced degrees in both library studies and religious studies. Mark has published in Code4Lib Journal, Journal of Web Librarianship, EBLIP, Community and Junior College Libraries, The Reference Librarian, and the Journal of Religion and Culture, among others.
Alex Teplish was born in Odessa, Ukraine, formerly known as the USSR. Having his grandparents survive concentration camps during the Holocaust and his parents struggling to live a decent life, they decided to immigrate to the United States, while Alex was still young. He went on to enjoy an average, American childhood and life growing up in Brooklyn, NY. Upon graduating from Stony Brook University, Alex Teplish worked diligently for over 20 years to become a leading expert in digital and interactive technologies. Outside of his corporate career, Alex has tapped into his creative side to author and self-publish two graphic novels. The first, a science-fiction book based on the Ancient Astronaut Theories is titled In The Beginning: The Epic of the Anunnaki. His second book, Survivor: Aron's Story, part illustrated memoir and part history book, depicts his grandfather's survival during WWII and one of the least documented episodes of the Holocaust. Alex has recently adapted the content of this book into an Interactive Virtual Museum, available to the public and ideal for Holocaust education.