Dana Smith, a professor of Holocaust & Genocide Studies at Keene State, held a book release party for her new book, “Jewish Art in Nazi Germany: The Jewish Cultureal League in Bavaria.”
The event was organized by James Waller, Holocaust & Genocide Studies department chair. He said the book release party has been in the works for some time, but scheduling was made difficult by the pandemic, leading it to be scheduled for this fall.
“I think it’s very important to recognize our faculty on campus who are producing this type of scholarly work, and I think the unique thing about Keene State is that this work always makes its way into the classroom,” Waller said. “I think our active scholars are also very great teachers, and I think those two things feed off of each other, so it’s wonderful to highlight the work she’s done.”
Smith said being able to talk in front of an audience such as the one she had was, “a dream come true.”
In order to get the information she needed, Smith explained, “It started with doing secondary source research, reading all the books I could find related to the topics of Jewish art, Nazi cultural policy, social histories of the Third Reich, modern German Jewish history, German history, etcetera.”
She continued,“I started archival research and ended up using archives in the UK, Germany, Israel and the United States.” She used newspapers, footnotes and other sources to gather information. There were a lot of steps to go through and information to gather because no one else has looked this far into Bavarian culture.
Smith said being in Europe while working toward her PhD at Queen Mary University of London helped in the process of working with the archives she needed. She said the process takes a few years, but the end result was rewarding.
During the event, Smith said she decided to specifically research Bavarian culture. Smith said she had always had an interest in Jewish culture. There were lots of interesting cultural leagues with lots of information, but the cultural league for Bavaria did not have much information present, so she wanted to learn more. “One of the things that I found really interesting about the Bavarian example is that it was based off of what had happened in Berlin, but it was something very different,” said Smith.
She described the Bavarian culture and traditions, as well as how the Bavarian culture regarded itself and what it meant to be a Bavarian in Nazi Germany.
Smith said that she had many supporters along the way, from colleagues old and new. “My graduate school professors and advisors at the University of Vermont and Queen Mary University of London provided a lot of guidance and support every step of the way, as well as my friends in my graduate school cohort,” she said.
She continued, “Since being at KSC, the [Holocaust and Genocide Studies] department and everyone at Keene State has been very supportive during the writing and editing process – in talking through concepts and research questions, but also in letting me vent about needing to reformat citations.”
Attendees at the book launch were able to ask Smith questions about her work. Cookies and coffee were also provided.
Emelie Brady can be contacted at