Group of Nazis in uniform gathering books for burning in Germany.

Meyerhoff Annual Lecture

Co-hosted with United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Teaching Exclusion in Nazi Germany and the United States: Antisemitism & Racist Ideology in the Classroom, 1920-1945

Video Replay of Western Washington University's Meyerhoff Lecture

Students wearing swastika arm bands unload books from a truck into a crowd.

Nazi students unload confiscated materials for the public book burning that is to take place on the Opernplatz in Berlin. The banner on the back of the truck reads: "German students march against the un-German spirit." National Archives and Records Administration, College Park; Copyright: Public Domain; Source Record ID: 306-NT-865-D-2

Special Event

Friday, April 7, 2023

5:00 p.m. (PDT)

In-person and live streamed online

Fraser Hall 102
Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA

Discussion Topic

This discussion will explore the role of educational systems and their underlying ideology in Nazi Germany and the United States as they each sought to create a specific national identity during the 1920s through the 1940s. 

After Adolf Hitler was appointed German Chancellor in January 1933, the new Nazi government began an effort to completely reorder public and private life in Germany.  It quickly targeted German universities - among the most elite in the world at the time - for restructuring according to Nazi principles. These forces, along with increasing antisemitism under Nazi rule, transformed everyday life at German universities, from the curriculum that was taught, the instructors that the university employed, and the type of community that students sought to build.   

During this same period, indigenous boarding schools in the United States (in existence since 1819) thrived on principles that also defined if - and how - Native American children could be part of American society.

Using a curriculum that sought to violently “civilize” and “assimilate” these children, these schools too drew upon racist ideology.  While these policies had very different outcomes, they were both based on shared ideas of “racial” hierarchy and national belonging.   


Dr. Margaret D. Jacobs, Charles Mach Professor of History; Director, Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

Dr. Adam Knowles, Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Zurich


Dr. Hollie Mackey (Northern Cheyenne), Associate Professor, Educational and Organizational Leadership & Associate Director, UCEA Graduate Student Development, North Dakota State University 

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity.

History Of This Annual Event

The Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture on the Holocaust was endowed by the Meyerhoff family in 1994 to honor excellence in research and foster dissemination of scholarly work in Holocaust Studies.

Meyerhoff annual lectures are free, open to the public, and are held at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and at partner institutions nationwide.

Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff of Baltimore, Maryland, were active philanthropists in the United States and abroad, focusing especially on Jewish learning and scholarship, music, the arts and humanitarian causes. Their children, Eleanor Katz and Harvey M. Meyerhoff, member and chairman emeritus of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, have endowed this lecture. 

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center’s mission is to ensure the long-term growth and vitality of Holocaust Studies. To do that, it is essential to provide opportunities for new scholarship. The vitality and the integrity of Holocaust Studies require openness, independence, and free inquiry so that new ideas are generated and tested through peer review and public debate. The opinions of scholars expressed before, during the course of, or after their activities with the Mandel Center do not represent and are not endorsed by the Mandel Center or the Museum.