Lectures & Workshops

“Complicity of the Bystander”

Professor Amos N. Guiora offers individual lectures and short courses/workshops on the complicity of the bystander, both in the Holocaust and in contemporary cases of sexual assault on college campuses.

As he does in his book The Crime of Complicity: The Bystander in the Holocaust, Professor Guiora examines the legal culpability of the bystander through the lens of a personal story. His parents are both Holocaust survivors: his father survived a Death March from a Labor Camp (Bor) and his mother was in hiding in an attic in Budapest. He explores three distinct events in the Holocaust: death marches, the German occupation of Holland, and the German occupation of Hungary.

The lectures and workshops pose the question of whether there can and should be legal liability in deciding not to act to aid another. He draws on a wide range of historical, psychological, sociological, and archival material in an effort to determine the legal and moral responsibility of the bystander.

While much literature, particularly in the social sciences, has been devoted to the study of the bystander/onlooker in the Holocaust (e.g., Victoria Barnett’s The Bystander and Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners), the question of complicity with an emphasis on the bystander has not been asked from the perspective of morality, ethics, and the law. This triangular approach, based on careful analysis of both the times and culture, will be the primary focus of the lecture or workshop.

In addition to its historical significance, this theme has contemporary application and relevance. In focusing on the legal and moral liability of the bystander, Professor Guiora will explore and seek to develop a paradigm of responsibility and accountability for the individual who is generally, otherwise, considered to be a non-participant. In doing so, he draws on the work of Karl Jaspers, author of The Question of German Guilt. As both Barnett and Goldhagen argue, the role and actions of the bystander are more significant than previously considered; Goldhagen’s treatment of bystanders with respect to death marches is of particular importance.

In addition to examining the bystander in the Holocaust, Professor Guiora will analyze the role of the bystander in sexual assaults on college campuses. In particular, he will examine events at Vanderbilt University and Stanford University. In doing so, he will consider proposed legislation regarding the complicity of the bystander in the context of the crime of omission.

For more about Professor Guiora’s lectures and workshops, please contact amos.guiora@law.utah.edu or (216) 470-6386.