The Frances S. Patai Program on the Nazi Holocaust
The Frances S. Patai Program on the Nazi Holocaust seeks to keep alive the historical memory of the Holocaust, especially among those who might not otherwise be familiar with it through familial or cultural ties. Its animating principles are: to counter the fictionalization of the Holocaust, to show how racism, nationalism and other forms of hatred can lead to genocide, to correct the false notion of victims' passive acceptance of their fate by examining resistance, and finally to explore the contemporary implications of the Holocaust as a way of helping to avoid future genocides.
To accomplish these goals, the Patai Program offers a series of undergraduate courses each year at the Center for Worker Education on the Holocaust and related topics. In addition, it seeks to broaden understanding of these issues by offering a public lecture series each year. The program has also built up a small resource and reference library of secondary sources, memoirs and personal accounts of experience in the Holocaust, documentary films, and other research materials. Finally, the Program offers a prize for the best undergraduate research paper on the Spanish Civil War, and especially the role of women in it, as a way of highlighting an example of the fight against fascism.
In the past three academic years, the Program has been fortunate enough to have a full-time post-doctoral fellow, Dr. Lynne Fallwell, to teach, organize the public lectures, mentor students and assist in carrying out the program's other goals.
The Patai Program was made possible by a generous bequest from Frances S. Patai (1930-1998), City College alumna (B.S. 1955 and M.A. 1957), actress, dancer, writer, teacher, ardent feminist and trade unionist. In discussing the creation of the program, she wrote, "I want to be remembered as having fought for justice and dignity for everyone". From a poor Lower East Side family, Ms. Patai attended City College at night after working in factories during the day to support herself. She wanted to help those who, as she, had to, struggle to gain a higher education, and the bequest to the College's Center for Worker Education was her way to honor this generation of working students.
The Patai Program is overseen by an Advisory Committee consisting of prominent scholars from the College and other institutions in the metropolitan area and the Dean of the Center.