Kirsten Fermaglich is a professor in the Department of History in the College of Social Science. She is an expert on American Jewish history and has authored the books “American Dreams and Nazi Nightmares” (2006) and “A Rosenberg by Any Other Name” (2018). The following faculty voice is edited and repurposed from the College of Social Science.
In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, MSU historian Kirsten Fermaglich offered two things she wished everyone would better understand about the Holocaust and its legacy. The first misconception she tackled is the prominent belief that Jewish Americans weren't affected by the genocide. “There seems to be this assumption that Jewish Americans were not impacted by the Holocaust, but that's just not true,” explained Fermaglich. “It had a deep impact of lasting trauma on many Jewish Americans, and shaped their perspectives on many social and political issues.”
Fermaglich also argues against the misconception that it is never appropriate to compare current events to those which took place during the Holocaust. “It is extremely taboo to draw comparisons about modern political issues to the Holocaust, and in many cases, it can extremely inappropriate and harmful,” said Fermaglich. “However, there are times when comparisons can be reasonably drawn, and in those cases, we should use our understandings of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust to try to prevent political disaster and genocide today.”
Additionally, Fermaglich explains that one way to honor those lost in the Holocaust is to fight misinformation about the genocide — including the surprisingly ubiquitous argument that it never happened. She explains more about this antisemitic rhetoric in the following video: