When World War II came to a close in 1945, the U.S. Government recruited a few leading German scientists, who it judged could contribute to America’s space and military programs. In addition, the rationale was that if the government hadn't done this, these top scientists, along with their scientific knowledge and military secrets, would have been swept up by the Soviet Union. Journalist Eric Lichtblau, uncovers a series of much more disconcerting findings in his 2014 book, The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men, which reveals that the U.S. allowed approximately 10,000 Nazis—some of whom were directly involved in heinous and genocidal acts—to immigrate and take up residence in the U.S.
Lichtblau, a veteran investigative reporter with CNN, will be the featured speaker at the Wednesday, June 7 Holocaust Living History Workshop (HLHW), a collaboration between the UC San Diego Library and the UC San Diego Jewish Studies Program. The June 7 event is sponsored by William & Michelle Lerach, and will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Price Center East Ballroom on the UC San Diego campus. The event is free and open to the public, and will be preceded by a 4:30 p.m. reception. Reservations must be made in advance; to reserve tickets visit, HLHW_Lichtblau.eventbrite.com.
Lichtblau recently joined CNN, as a member of its investigative team, where he has been a lead reporter covering recent events related to the Trump campaign, its ties to Russia, and the recent firing of FBI Director James Comey. Before joining CNN’s Washington bureau, Lichtblau was a reporter for The New York Times, where he has covered national security, money-and-politics, law enforcement, and other national issues, since 2002. Previously, he spent 15 years as an investigative and legal affairs reporter at the Los Angeles Times. Lichtblau has been the recipient of numerous awards for his work, and in 2006, he won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting—with James Risen—for breaking the story of the secret wiretapping program authorized by President Bush, weeks after the September 11 attacks. The story and follow-up articles triggered a national debate about the balance between national security and civil liberties, and led to a rewriting of federal intelligence law. He has also written investigative pieces on political corruption scandals, the Wikileaks files, and the Edward Snowden-NSA revelations.
In addition to The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2014), which one reviewer called “an essential read for all those interested in World War II, the Cold War, and 20th Century history,” Lichtblau is the author of Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice (Pantheon, 2008), which a reviewer called “All the President’s Men for the age of terror.”
The UC San Diego Library is one of only a few university libraries on the West Coast to have access to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute Visual History Archive, founded by film maker Steven Spielberg to document the stories of Holocaust survivors for his movie, Schindler’s List. In 1994, Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, a non-profit organization, to collect and preserve more than 50,000 firsthand accounts of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. The foundation became the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education in 2006.
The HLHW was launched by the Library and the Jewish Studies Program to teach the history of the Holocaust through two methods of face-to-face contact, both with Holocaust survivors and their children and through the Visual History Archive. Student volunteers have received special training on how to search through the testimonies in the massive Archive, and then teach survivors and their families—from multiple generations—how to use the database. These families can then use the archive to conduct their own searches in order to learn about other people, and in some cases relatives, who had similar Holocaust experiences.
The archive of 52,000 digital oral histories recorded by Holocaust survivor and other witnesses is the foundation for the HLHW, a program that has brought together UC San Diego students, San Diego holocaust survivors, and their children. The workshop, which was established to expand the usefulness and the impact of the Archive, has proven to be a powerful tool for discovering family history and preserving memories for survivors, their families, and members of the community.