(1926 - 2007)
Raul Hilberg, who established himself as the preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, died in Vermont at the age of 81. Born in Vienna, he left Austria with his parents one year after the Anschluss, narrowly escaping the Holocaust at the age of 13. The family fled first to Cuba, then to New York City.
While serving in the U.S. Army with the War Documentation Project in Europe during WW II, he assisted in the hunt for German documents that could be used in the prosecution of war crimes. While stationed in Munich at the former Nazi party headquarters, Hilberg discovered crates containing Hitler’s private library. He later worked for a project to organize and microfilm captured German documents. That archive became the foundation for Holocaust research, including his own landmark study.
He earned a doctorate in 1955 from Columbia University. From 1956 until 1991, he was professor of political science at the University of Vermont, where he created the school’s Holocaust Studies program, which later became the Center for Holocaust Studies in 1992. His book, “The Destruction of the European Jews,” (1961), a landmark study of the Nazi extermination of more than 5 million Jews, set the standard and created the foundation for the development of the whole field of Holocaust studies.