Historian Lisa Leff to Discuss How French Jewish Archives Were Salvaged During World War II

Julia Fishman

Image of Dr. Lisa Leff, 2018 Effron Lecture speaker

September 20, 2018 — Historian Lisa Leff will deliver the 42nd annual William and Sadie Effron Lecture in Jewish Studies at Marist College on Tuesday, October 16, 7:00pm, in the Nelly Goletti Theatre. This event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Leff’s talk will be based on her award-winning book The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust, which chronicles the story of Zosa Szajkowski, a Jewish historian who stole tens of thousands of documents from French archives and sold them to libraries in the United States and Israel. The Archive Thief examines questions of the role of archives, the rightful ownership of contested archives, and decisions made in times of duress to ensure history is preserved. A finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, the book was honored with the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature in 2016.

Lisa Leff book cover

The Times Literary Supplement noted that “it is the wider context of her [Leff’s] book that is so fascinating, for it raises important questions about the very nature of archives themselves, particularly what she calls 'archives of catastrophe.'"

Leff is Professor of History and Acting Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice Provost at American University in Washington, DC. Later this year, she will begin a new position as Director of the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Museum. Her scholarly areas of interest include French, Jewish, and general European history of the 18th and 20th centuries.

About the William and Sadie Effron Lecture in Jewish Studies

William and Sadie Effron were longtime civic and cultural leaders in the Poughkeepsie community. The lecture series was established in 1976 to raise awareness at Marist and in the community of Jewish history, culture and current affairs.

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