March 30, 2021

Wendy Lower

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes WENDY LOWER—the John K. Roth Professor in History at Claremont McKenna College and author of Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields—for a discussion of her latest book, The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed. She will be joined in conversation by JOSHUA RUBENSTEIN, associate, Harvard University's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.


In 2009, the acclaimed author of Hitler’s Furies was shown a photograph just brought to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The documentation of the Holocaust is vast, but there are virtually no images of a Jewish family at the actual moment of murder, in this case by German officials and Ukrainian collaborators. A Ukrainian shooter’s rifle is inches from a woman's head, obscured in a cloud of smoke. She is bending forward, holding the hand of a barefooted little boy. And—only one of the shocking revelations of Wendy Lower’s brilliant ten-year investigation of this image—the shins of another child, slipping from the woman’s lap.

Wendy Lower’s forensic and archival detective work—in Ukraine, Germany, Slovakia, Israel, and the United States—recovers astonishing layers of detail concerning the open-air massacres in Ukraine. The identities of mother and children, of the killers—and, remarkably, of the Slovakian photographer who openly took the image, as a secret act of resistance—are dramatically uncovered. Finally, in the hands of this brilliant exceptional scholar, a single image unlocks a new understanding of the place of the family unit in the ideology of Nazi genocide.

About Author(s)

Wendy Lower is currently the William Rosenberg Senior Scholar at Yale University, on sabbatical from Claremont McKenna College where she holds the John K Roth Chair in history and directs the Mgrublian Center for Human Rights. Lower is the author of Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in UkraineThe Diary of Samuel Golfard and the Holocaust in Galicia; and co- editor (with Ray Brandon) of Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization. Her book, Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields was a finalist for the National Book Award and has been translated into 23 languages. Her book, The Ravine: A Family, A Photograph, A Holocaust Massacre Revealed, was published in February 2021

Joshua Rubenstein has been professionally involved with human rights and international affairs for over forty years as an activist and independent scholar with particular expertise in Russian affairs. He is the author of Soviet Dissidents: Their Struggle for Human Rights and Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg, a biography of the controversial Soviet-Jewish writer and journalist.