Where I Go: Lithuania’s Vanished Center of Jewish Life

In Vilna, Where Thousands Were Murdered, I Learned How Difficult It Is to Mourn an Absence

I did it all backward. Instead of taking my research trips before writing my book, like any normal historian would have, I’d waited. Only after I had completed my first draft did I finally make my way to Vilna (now Vilnius), the capital of Lithuania during its brief moment of independence in the interwar period.

In June 1941, when German troops overran the country, Vilna was home to 55,000 Jewish residents and 12,000–15,000 refugees from German-occupied Poland. Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the spiritual and academic center of Holocaust remembrance, described Vilna …

mural San Francisco post office

The Mural So Controversial Nixon Tried to Remove It

75 Years Later, 'War and Peace' Survives, But Its Ideals Have Not

As multiple crises pile atop one another in the young 21st century, a tripartite mural at a former San Francisco post office lobby rebukes us with its dated optimism.

“War and …

Why Don’t We Know Mitsuye Endo? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Why Don’t We Know Mitsuye Endo?

The Layers of Silence Around a Japanese American Hero and Her Landmark Supreme Court Case

Since 2017, a famous black-and-white photo has stayed with me: a young Japanese American woman sitting in front of a typewriter, hands poised in the home position, looking over her …

The Tokyo Shrine That Will Never Find Peace | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Tokyo Shrine That Will Never Find Peace

What’s Left to Salvage in a Monument That Refuses to Accept the Sins of the Past?

The Yasukuni Shrine is an island of calm in an otherwise bustling city. Mature pines and cypress trees surround it, screening it from Tokyo’s relentless traffic noise. Shady walkways, sacred …

The Birth of Wheelchair Basketball | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Birth of Wheelchair Basketball

World War II Veterans Popularized the Sport—And Changed the Game for the Disability Rights Movement

On an unremarkable Wednesday evening in the spring of 1948, 15,561 spectators flocked to New York’s Madison Square Garden to watch two teams of World War II veterans play an …

What We Don’t Understand About Fascism | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

What We Don’t Understand About Fascism

Using the Word Incorrectly Oversimplifies History—And Won't Help Us Address Our Current Political Crisis

At the moment, fascism has to be the most sloppily used term in the American political vocabulary. If you think fascists are buffoonish, racist, misogynist despots, the people who support …