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Michael Robert Marrus, CM FRSC (born February 3, 1941) is a distinguished Canadian historian of France, the Holocaust, and Jewish history who is the author of five books on the Holocaust and related subjects. He was born in Toronto and received his BA at the University of Toronto in 1963 and his MA and PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964 and 1968. Marrus was Professor of History and Dean of Graduate Studies before serving as Governor of the University of Toronto, where he currently holds the title of senior fellow of Massey College and the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies. Marrus also completed a Master of Laws degree at the University of Toronto in preparation for writing Some Measure of Justice: The Holocaust-Era Restitution Campaign of the 1990s (2009), about Holocaust-era litigation and restitution. His most recent book, Lessons of the Holocaust, published in 2015, deals with the historical and moral controversies which infuse the interpretation of the Holocaust and its significance. In it, Marrus denies there can be any definitive set of lessons to be learned from the destruction of the European Jews and instead affirms that there are many ever-evolving questions that need to be continually studied and re-interpreted. Marrus's field of specialization is the history of French Jewry and anti-semitism in France. In 1981 he co-authored with Robert Paxton Vichy France and the Jews which demonstrated that the anti-semitism of Vichy France was endogenous to the region rather than imposed from without and that the Vichy government, which was spared occupation, could sometimes be even more brutal than states which, unlike Vichy, were actually under Nazi occupation, especially in its role in organizing the deportation of Jews to death camps.
Marrus's best-known book, the Holocaust in History (Hanover University: University Press of New England, 1987), applies the tools of historiographic analysis to the vast literature on the topic, attempting to elucidate such issues as the problems of the uniqueness and universalism of the Holocaust; public opinion regarding the Jews Nazi Europe; anti-semitism as a factor in the origins of the Holocaust; Jewish resistance; the role of the Judenräte; bystanders; and the final year of the Holocaust. The book comprises 202 pages of text and 44 pages of footnotes.
Role in International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission to investigate the Holocaust
In October of 1999 Marrus was one of three Jewish scholars appointed to the International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission to investigate the role of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust. The commission was allowed to view 11 volumes of archived Vatican records pertaining to the World War II period and in October 2000 issued a preliminary report with 47 questions about Vatican's response to the Holocaust. However, in 2001, the Vatican rebuffed the Commission's efforts to access to Vatican archives from the period after 1923 pertaining to the career of Pope Pius the XII in the years preceding the outbreak of the war, and it subsequently disbanded amid controversy. In an interview in the Jerusalem Post Marrus expressed regret that the Commission had run "up against a brick wall." "It would have been really helpful, " he said, "to have had support from the Holy See on this issue."
In 1971 Marrus married Randi Greenstein; the couple have three children.
Honors and Awards
In 1982, Marrus's book Vichy France and the Jews, co-authored with Robert Paxton, was the recipient of the National Jewish Book Award for books on the Holocaust. Marrus received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Humanities, US & Canada in 1983. In 2008 he became a member of the Order of Canada.
- "European Jewry and the Politics of Assimilation: Assessment and Reassessment," The Journal of Modern History Vol. 49, No. 1, March 1977.
- The Politics of Assimilation: The French Jewish Community at the Time of the Dreyfus Affair, 1980.
- Coauthored with Robert O. Paxton Vichy France and the Jews, 1981.
- Coauthored with Robert O. Paxton, "The Nazis and the Jews in Occupied Western Europe, 1940-1944," The Journal of Modern History Vol. 54, No. 4, December 1982.
- The Unwanted: European Refugees in the 20th Century, 1985.
- The Holocaust in History, 1987.
- The Nazi Holocaust: Historical Articles on the Destruction of European Jews, 9 volumes, 1989.
- "Three Roads From Nuremberg"; Tablet magazine; Nov. 20, 2015.
- Samuel Bronfman: The Life and Times of Seagram's Mr. Sam, 1991.
- "Reflections on the Historiography of the Holocaust" pages 92–116 from the Journal of Modern History Vol. 66, No. 1, March 1994.
- Lessons of the Holocaust. Foreword by Margaret MacMillan. University of Toronto Press, 2015.
- "Marrus, Michael R.". University of Toronto Centre of Jewish Studies. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Yehuda Bauer, Book Review in [Oxford journal of] Holocaust Genocide Studies (1988) 3 (3): 345-347
- The others were Bernard Suchecky, research director at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium; and Robert S. Wistrich, professor of history and holder of the Neuenberger Chair in Jewish Studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. See: | "Joint Catholic-Jewish Commission Will Examine Documents Relating To Church’s Role In World War II: Why Didn’t Pope Pius XII Speak Out?" Top News Releases, University of Virginia, (December 1999).
- Melissa Radler. "Vatican Blocks Panel's Access to Holocaust Archives." The Jerusalem Post (July 24, 2001).
- "Order of Canada: Michael Robert Marrus, C.M., Ph.D., F.R.S.C.". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- The Holocaust at Nuremberg - an article by Marrus
- French Protestant Churches and the Persecution of the Jews in France - an article by Marrus
- Understanding the Vatican During the Nazi Period - an article by Marrus
- An interview with Prof. Marrus Jerusalem 1997
- Understanding the Vatican during the Nazi Period- an article by Marrus