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Stephen Feinstein

Stephen Feinstein concerned himself with crimes against humanity and human rights issues.

U professor dies at 65

Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies built a program of international repute

March 6, 2008

The University of Minnesota lost a popular teacher and influential scholar when Stephen Feinstein, the director of the U's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) and adjunct professor of history, died on Tuesday, March 4. Feinstein was speaking at the Jewish Film Festival when he suffered an aortic aneurysm that resulted in cardiac arrest. He was 64.

From its founding in 1997, Feinstein built the CHGS into a premier educational, research, and outreach institution, one that had international renown. From its very beginning, he ensured that CHGS engaged with a broad range of crimes against humanity and human rights issues in addition to the Holocaust.

Feinstein spent 30 years on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin River Falls before retiring there and coming to the University of Minnesota. He was known around the world as an advocate for Holocaust survivors and genocide education, and particularly for his expertise on artistic expression and genocide. He was routinely called upon to train Polish teachers on Holocaust education, speak at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, and comment on just about anything Holocaust- and genocide-related.

From its very beginning, he ensured that CHGS engaged with a broad range of crimes against humanity and human rights issues in addition to the Holocaust.

Educators, scholars, and survivors from around the world have been deeply influenced by Feinstein and are sending messages of condolence to his family and to the University.

Most recently, Feinstein was instrumental in securing funding for and creating programming around the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibition "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race," currently showing at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

"Steve was a good friend as well as someone with whom I worked closely, and the news is devastating," says Eric Weitz, chair of the U of M Department of History. "He had an amazingly generous nature and could get things accomplished that no one had ever conceived of or thought was possible."

Feinstein was known far and wide for his generous personality, constant stream of jokes, and deep commitment to the issues at the heart CHGS's mission. More than anything else, he was a great humanitarian who believed that knowledge of the past could prevent atrocities in the future.

Feinstein leaves his wife, Sue, children Jeremy and Rebecca, and two grandchildren. The funeral will be Friday, March 7, at 2 p.m. at Beth-El Synagogue, 5224 West 26th St., Saint Louis Park, MN.

Memorials may be sent to: The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota Foundation, PO Box 70870, St. Paul, MN,55170-3854