Waitman Wade Beorn
Consultant, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Office Hours: See syllabus and by appointment
Field & Specialties
Digital Humanities (particularly Mapping and Geography)
Modern European Jewish History
- PhD, History, 2011, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, NC
- Master’s Degree, History, April 2007, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, NC
- Bachelor of Science, History, June 2000, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
Dr. Waitman Wade Beorn is currently a Lecturer in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia. He is also a consultant and writer for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Dr. Beorn was previously the Director of the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond, VA. He received his PhD in History from the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill in 2011 where he worked under the direction of Christopher Browning. His first book examines the complicity of the German Army in the Holocaust in the Soviet Union, focusing on ground level participation. That book, Marching Into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus, Harvard University Press, 2014) won the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize for best first book from Harvard Press. The book also received the Honorable Mention for the Sybil Milton Memorial Book Prize for books on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust from the German Studies Association. This award is awarded every two years. Marching into Darkness was also a finalist for the Best Academic Publication on Belarus-related Problems for Foreign Authors at the 5th International Congress of Belarusian Studies. The book has also been published in Polish as Polowanie na Żydów. Zbrodnie Wermachtu. Dr. Beorn is currently preparing a major project on the Janowska concentration camp outside of Lviv, Ukraine. This book project is tentatively entitled Between the Wires: The Janowska Camp and the Holocaust in Lviv. Dr. Beorn has also written a synthetic book, The Holocaust in Eastern Europe: At the Epicenter of the Final Solution, (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2018).
As a member of an interdisciplinary group, Holocaust Geographies, which explores the spatial dynamics of the Holocaust, Dr. Beorn was a co-recipient of a National Science Foundation grant. He is also active in the digital humanities, currently working on two projects in GIS and 3D Modeling of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.
In addition to his first book, Dr. Beorn has published work in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Central European History, and Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History in addition to chapters in several edited volumes. He has been awarded Fulbright Foundation, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and Claims Conference fellowships.
Dr. Beorn was previously the inaugural Louis and Frances Blumkin Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and assistant professor of History at the University of Nebraska- Omaha. He teaches courses in Holocaust History, Comparative Genocide, German history, Eastern European history, Antisemitism, Modern European History, Jewish History, Historical Methodology, Digital History, and Public History, in addition to survey courses in World History (both parts I and II).
Outside of academia, he serves as a consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum particularly in their programs aimed at military personnel. He has co-written a training module in ethical military decision-making for ROTC cadets based on his research. He also researches and writes web content for the USHMM Online Encyclopedia. Dr. Beorn has worked since 2007 with the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. He consulted on their 2009 exhibit “The Shooting of Jews in Ukraine: Holocaust by Bullets.” In addition, he continues to serve the museum in its American Service Academy Program, leading discussions on the German Army and the Holocaust. He also served as the executive director of the Sam and Frances Fried Holocaust and Genocide Education Fund in Omaha, NE.
Dr. Beorn is a 2000 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.
- Marching into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus, Harvard University Press, 2014. Polish translation by Wdawnitctwo RM.
- The Holocaust in Eastern Europe: At the Epicenter of the Final Solution, (Bloomsbury Press, 2018)
- “Killing on the Ground and in the Mind: The Spatialities of Genocide in Belarus” in Geographies of the Holocaust, ed. Anne Kelly Knowles, Tim Cole, and Alberto Giordano, Indiana University Press, 2014.
- “Walking in the Footsteps of the Vanished: Using Physical Landscapes to Understand Wehrmacht Participation in Einsatzgruppen Killings in Belarus,” in Lessons and Legacies XI: Expanding Perspectives on the Holocaust in a Changing World, ed. Hilary Earl and Karl Schleunes, Northwestern University Press, in Lessons and Legacies XI: Expanding Perspectives on the Holocaust in a Changing World, ed. Hilary Earl and Karl Schleunes, Northwestern University Press, 2015.
- “Genocide in a Small Place: Wehrmacht Complicity in Killing the Jews of Krupki, 1941” in The Holocaust and Local History. Vallentine Mitchell Publishers, 201
- “Last Stop in Lwów: Janowska as a Hybrid Camp,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol 32, Nr. 3, Winter 2018, p. 445-471
- "Perpetrators, Presidents, and Profiteers: Teaching Genocide Prevention and Response through Classroom Simulation, " Special Issue: Mass Atrocity Prevention, Politics and Governance 3, no. 4 (2015): 72-83.
- “The Man Who Stood in his own Grave—Twice,” The Galitzianer, Vol 20, No. 4, December 2013.
- “Genocide in a Small Place: Wehrmacht Complicity in Killing the Jews of Krupki, 1941” Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History, Vol.16, No.1-2, Summer/Autumn 2010, pp.97-128
- “A Calculus of Complicity: The Wehrmacht, the Anti-Partisan War, and the Final Solution in White Russia, 1941-42,” Central European History, Vol. 44, Nr. 2, June 2011, pp. 308-337.
- “Geographies of the Holocaust” (jointly with Tim Cole, Simone Gigliotti, Alberto Giordano, Anna Holian, Paul Jaskot, Anne Knowles, Marc Masurovsky, and Erik Steiner), The Geographical Review, vol. 99, Nr. 4, October 2009
- "Negotiating Murder: A Panzer Signal Company and the Destruction of the Jews of Peregruznoe, 1942," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 23, Nr. 2, Fall 2009
My second monograph, Between the Wires: The Janowska Camp and the Holocaust in Lviv, focuses on the Janowska concentration camp in Lviv, Ukraine from 1941-1944. This camp represents a special combination of slave labor camp, transit camp, and extermination center. I am interested in several important aspects of the camp beyond bringing its story to a larger audience. First, what is the significance of the hybrid functions of the camp in the larger story of the Holocaust? Second, given that the remains of the camp is off limits today, what can a spatial examination of survivor testimony, contemporary documents, and maps tell us about life and death in the camp? I have already conducted two research trips to Germany and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and have compiled a significant amount of survivor memoirs and testimony, court documents, Soviet reports, and other materials. The camp offers a unique glimpse into the confluence of extermination and labor policy, survival strategies, and judicial and testimonial memory of both perpetrators and survivors all in the context of a multi-ethnic city of Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians which experienced both Soviet and Nazi occupation. As a result, I am writing a complex, interdisciplinary, integrated history combining perpetrator, victim, and bystander perspectives.
In connection with this project, I am working on a GIS-project mapping the camp and the ghetto in Lwow with the assistance of the UVA Scholars Lab. This project uses as its starting point information from ghetto work cards, artwork, photographs, and contemporary maps. I have also prepared a digital visualization of one prisoner's artwork in the camp.
Awards & Honors
Marching into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus, Harvard University Press, 2014. Also under contract with Wdawnitctwo RM for publication in Poland.
- Winner of the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize for best first book from Harvard University Press, 2014
- Honorable Mention, Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize for Best Book on Topic Related to the Holocaust, German Studies Association, 2015
- Finalist, Congress Award for the Best Academic Publication on Belarus-related Problems, International Congress of Belarusian Studies, 2015
- Visiting Scholar, Western Carolina University, 17-18 September 2015
- Sharon Abramson Research Grant for the Study of the Holocaust, Holocaust Education Foundation, 2014.
- USH Shoah Archive Teaching Fellow, 2013-4
- Harry Frank Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship, 2010-11
- Fulbright Fellowship, Germany, 2008-9
- Saul Kagan Claims Conference Fellowship for Advanced Shoah Studies, 2009-10
- Holocaust Education Foundation Research Grant, 2009
- National Science Foundation Grant “Collaborative Research - Holocaust Historical GIS,” Award # 0820501 (with Tim Cole, Simone Gigliotti, Alberto Giordano, Anna Holian, Paul Jaskot, Anne Knowles, Marc Masurovsky, and Erik Steiner), 2008-2011
- Deutscher Akedemischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Graduate Scholarship, 2008 (declined)
- Fellow, Auschwitz Jewish Center Fellows Program, 2008
- Participant, Archival Summer Seminar in Germany, German Historical Institute, 2008
- Bernadotte E. Schmitt Grant for Research in European History, 2008 (awarded by the American Historical Association)
- HIST 1501: Killing in the Courtroom- Mass Atrocities, War Crimes, and the Law
- HIST 3542: The Second World War
- HIEU 3559: Modern European History, 1789-1918
- HIST 3300: Curating the Past- The History of the Museum (Newly developed)
- HIEU 3380: Antisemitism- A History (Newly developed)
- HIEU 3692: History of the Holocaust
- HIEU 3604: The Holocaust on Film (Newly developed)
- HIST 3559: Digital History (Newly developed)
- Primary On-Screen Historical Expert for “Faces Of Auschwitz” Documentary, filming in Poland, October 2018 with BBC
- Onscreen expert for documentary film “Hitler: The Rise and Fall”, Arrow Media, 2015
- Onscreen expert and Consultant, “Remembered Voices” Documentary, Nebraska Public Television, 2012- 2013
- Quoted in “Did Trump Echo Hitler by Calling Undocumented Immigrants ‘Animals’?” Snopes.com, 21 May 2018
- “Lecturer creates interactive map of Nazi ghetto, concentration camp” Cavalier Daily, 2 November 2017
- “Digital map helps historians get granular with Holocaust Research”, UVA Today, 17 October 2017
- Quoted in New York Magazine, 3 September 2017
- “A Short History of Torches and Intimidation,” Forbes, 15 August 2017
- “UVa lecturer: Lee Park chant has Nazi roots,” Daily Progress, 20 May 2017
- “Speaker to shed light on lesser known aspect of Holocaust,” Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, 2 March 2017
- Book Interview: New Books in History, New Books Network Podcast, 10 January 2014
- “Beorn searches for answers in the lives and geographies of the Holocaust,” A&S: A Newsletter of the College and Arts and Sciences, University of Nebraska-Omaha, Dec 2013
- “Gift enables professor to discuss the evil that men do” University of Nebraska Foundation Newsletter, 26 March 2013
- “Exclusive: Marines Nazi-Flag Whistleblower Comes Forward,” Mother Jones, 11 February 2011
Internet and Popular Press Publications
- “I led a platoon in Iraq. Trump is wrong to pardon war criminals.” Washington Post, 9 May 2019. Also appeared in 11 May print edition.
- “When bad actors twist history, historians take to Twitter. That’s a good thing,” Washington Post, 19 March 2019
- “U.S. put its Silent Sams on pedestals. Germany honored not the defeated but the victims,” Washington Post, 11 September 2018
- “It’s not wrong to compare Trump’s America to the Holocaust. Here’s why,” Washington Post, 16 July 2018
- “Zeev Porath Chronicled Nazi Rapists And Other Atrocities - In His Drawings" Forward, 22 June 2018
- “Yes, you can call the border centers ‘concentration camps,’ but apply the history with care,” Washington Post, 20 June 2018