2014 Adam Cherrick Lecture - The Ambiguity of Virtue: Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews
Bernard Wasserstein’s The Ambiguity of Virtue: Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews challenges the interpretation of the role of the Nazi-appointed Jewish councils in occupied Europe that was offered by Hannah Arendt in her Eichmann in Jerusalem. The Ambiguity of Virtue tells the story of Gertrude van Tijn’s work on behalf of her fellow Jews as the avenues that might save them were closed off. Between 1933 and 1940 Van Tijn helped organize Jewish refugee emigration from Germany. After the Germans occupied Holland in 1940, she worked for the Jewish Council in Amsterdam and enabled many more Jews to escape. Later, some called her a heroine; others denounced her as a collaborator. Was she merely a pawn of the Nazis, or should she be commended for taking advantage of opportunities to save Jews from the gas chambers? In such impossible circumstances, what is just action, and what is complicity?
BERNARD WASSERSTEIN is the Harriet and Ulrich E. Meyer Professor Emeritus of Modern European Jewish History at the University of Chicago. Born in London in 1948, he studied history at Oxford. From 2003 to 2013 he taught at the University of Chicago. Before that he was President of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies.
Wasserstein's books include Britain and the Jews of Europe 1939-1945 (1979), The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln (1988) which was awarded the Golden Dagger for Non-Fiction by the Crime Writers Association, Vanishing Diaspora (1996), Divided Jerusalem (2001), Israel and Palestine (2003), and On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War (2012) which was awarded the Yad Vashem International Book Prize. His latest book, The Ambiguity of Virtue: Gertrude van Tijn and the Fate of the Dutch Jews is published by Harvard University Press.
Jordan and Lorraine Cherrick of St. Louis, Missouri, established the Adam Cherrick Fund in memory of their son in 1989, with the purpose of advancing Jewish studies at Washington University. Since its inception, the Adam Cherrick Fund has benefitted the university community and St. Louis at large by bringing world-renowned scholars to speak on campus.
Past Adam Cherrick Lectures
2013 David M. Stern, University of Pennsylvania
2011 Marc Saperstein, Leo Baeck College
2009 Peter Schäfer, Princeton University
2008 David Goodblatt, University of California, San Diego
2007 Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert, Stanford University
2006 Menachem Kellner, University of Haifa
2005 Derek Penslar, University of Toronto
2004 Susan Niditch, Amherst College
2003 Kenneth Seeskin, Northwestern University
2002 Leonard Fein, Founding Editor, Moment Magazine
2001 Jeffrey Gurock, Yeshiva University
2000 Martin Jaffee, University of Washington-Seattle
1999 Fred Lazin, Ben Gurion University
1997 David Berger, Brooklyn College
1996 Pnina Lahav, Boston University
1995 David Novak, University of Virginia
1993 Haym Sloveitchik, Yeshiva University