Meet our speakers
As we work on the program, we will upload information about the scholars, journalists, and other experts who will speak at the
2023 Centropa Summer Academy.
Hannah M. Lessing
General Secretary, Austrian National Fund
Has been responsible for the administrative and organizational management of the
National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism since 1995
General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism (May 2001 - April 2022)
Fund for the Restoration of the Jewish cemeteries in Austria since 2010.
Co-Head of the Austrian Delegation of the "International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance".
1988 Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration (Mag.rer.soc.oec.), 2001/2002 Federal Administration Academy.
Participated in the negotiations on compensation topics conducted by Under-Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat, member of the Austrian delegation headed by Ambassador Sucharipa for the Joint Statement signed in Washington in January 2001.
Has lectured extensively on the National Fund and the General Settlement Fund, as well as in connection with international commemoration activities regarding the Holocaust.
Austrian Ambassador to Czech Republic
Bettina Kirnbauer (* 1961 in Bruck an der Mur) is an Austrian diplomat. In 2020, she was appointed Ambassador to the Czech Republic after 36 years of service with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 2017 to June 2020, she served as head of the foreign policy department of the Hofburg.
After graduating from law school, Ms.
Kirnbauer entered the diplomatic service in 1984 and served at the Embassies in Bern (1986-1989), Manila (1989-1993), Prague (1998-2001),
the UN Mission in Geneva and at the OSCE. From 2001 to 2007 Consul General in Zurich and then Chief of Protocol at the Foreign Office.
Mordechai Denis Paul Rodgold
Israeli Ambassador to Austria
Mordechai Denis Paul Rodgold is an Israeli diplomat. Rodgold has been Ambassador of the State of Israel to Austria and Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations Institutions in Vienna since 2019.
During his career, Mr. Rodgold has served in various capacities, among them:
Director of the Information & Visual Media Department, Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2011- present); Counsellor, European Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2011); Vice President, Business Development, Renewable Energy Company (2009-2011); Counsellor, Economic Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2006-2008); Representative of Israel to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme (2002-2006); Head of Economic Section, Embassy in Rome and Economic Counsellor to Italy, Malta and Albania (2002-2006); Deputy Director, Economic Department 2, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2000-2002); Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy in Bern (1997-2000); Deputy Chief of Mission, Liaison Office, Morocco (1995-1997); and Second Secretary, European Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1993-1994).
Mr. Rodgold holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and International Relations and a Master of Business Administration, both from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
He is fluent in English, French, German, Hebrew and Italian.
Dr. Vasyl Khymynets
Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria
Dr. Vasyl Khymynets was born in 1970 in Uzhhorod, Ukraine. Since 2021 he has served as the Ukrainian ambassador to Austria. Throughout his career, he has held a number of positions, including: Head of the 1st Territorial Europe Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2015-2021); Counselor and Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy of Ukraine in Berlin (2009-2014); Deputy Head, Head of the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2008-2009); First Embassy Secretary, Embassy of Ukraine in Berlin (2003-2007); and Head of the Department for Ukrainian Diaspora, National Minorities and Denominations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine (2001-2003). Khymynets holds a Master's Degree in foreign policy from the Diplomatic Academy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, and is obtaining his doctorate on the topic of Ukrainian-German relations.
Deputy Head of Mission, German Embassy
Rainer Rudolph currently serves as Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy to Austria in Vienna. He
graduated from Tübingen University, University of Aix-en-Provence and Freie Universität Berlin with degrees in German and History. Prior to his post at the German embassy, he was a senior fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations as well as the Head of Division for Relations with EU member states, EU external relations, EU enlargement, Council of Europe, and Brexit at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. He is married and has two daughters.
Patrick Siegele, born in 1974, studied German philology and musicology in Austria and Great Britain. From 2014 to 2021 he was director of the Anne Frank Zentrum in Berlin, the German partner organization of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. His focus is on Holocaust Education as well as educational work dealing with antisemitism. Patrick Siegele was coordinator of the independent expert group on antisemitism (commissioned by the German Bundestag) between 2015 and 2017. Since June 2021, Patrick Siegele has been the Executive Director of ERINNERN:AT and Head of the Department "Holocaust Education" at OeAD - Austria's Agency for Education and Internationalization. He is a member of the Austrian delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance - IHRA.
Philipp Blom (1970) is a historian and author of several novels, journalism, politics, and philosophy. He also works a radio presenter, documentary film maker and as a public lecturer.
Philipp Blom’s book combine historical research, philosophical enquiry and an essayistic, literary approach. Among his best-selling works are The Vertigo Years and Fracture, dealing with the cultural history of the early twentieth century, A Wicked Company, about the radical Enlightenment, Nature’s Mutiny an investigation into history and climate change in the seventeenth century and, more recently, What is at Stake, dealing with climate change, digitization, and democracy.
Philipp’s wide-ranging work and research interests have received numerous accolades. He won several international prizes (Premis Terenci Moix, Barcelona, Groene Waterman Prijs, Antwerpen, NDR Kultur Buchpreis, Wolfenbüttel), and his books are translated into sixteen languages.
Conductor, Defiant Requiem Foundation
Murry Sidlin, a conductor with a unique gift for engaging audiences, continues a diverse and distinctive musical career. He is the president and creative director of The Defiant Requiem Foundation, an organization that sponsors live concert performances of Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín and Hours of Freedom: The Story of the Terezín Composer; as well as other projects including the documentary film, Defiant Requiem; a new docudrama called Mass Appeal, 1943, which was premiered in June 2017; and The Rafael Schächter Institute for Arts and Humanities at Terezín. In addition, he lectures extensively on the arts and humanities as practiced by the prisoners in the Theresienstadt (Terezín) Concentration Camp.
Mr. Sidlin began his career as assistant conductor of the Baltimore Symphony under Sergiu Comissiona and then was appointed resident conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra by Antal Doráti. He has served as music director of the New Haven and Long Beach (California) Symphonies, the Tulsa Philharmonic, and the Connecticut Ballet.
Education Director, Defiant Requiem Foundation
Alexandra Zapruder began her career as a member of the founding staff of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Smith College, she served on the curatorial team for the museum’s exhibition for young visitors, Remember The Children, Daniel’s Story. She earned her Ed.M. in Education at Harvard University in 1995.
Alexandra is the author of Salvaged Pages: Young Writers Diaries of the Holocaust and Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film. She serves as the Education Director of The Defiant Requiem Foundation. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Educators’ Institute for Human Rights (EIHR), a nonprofit that develops partnerships with teachers in post-conflict countries to provide training in best practices on human rights, genocide prevention, and Holocaust education.
Edward Serotta is a journalist, photographer, and filmmaker specializing in Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe. Born in Savannah, Georgia, Edward has worked in Central Europe since 1985. Between 1996 and 1999, he produced three films for ABC News Nightline. Edward has published three books – Out of the Shadows, Survival in Sarajevo, and Jews, Germany, Memory. He has contributed to TIME Magazine, The L.A.Times, The Washington Post, and other outlets. Ed founded Centropa in 2000.
Austrian Education Ministry
Moritz Wein, born in 1988, studied Political Science at the University of Vienna, Sciences Po Paris and at University of Marburg’s Center for Conflict Studies. He worked as an educator at Mauthausen Memorial and from 2016 to 2021 at _erinnern.at_, Austria’s Holocaust Education Institute, lastly as deputy director of _erinnern.at_. Since 2021 Moritz Wein is an official at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research working on the topics of Holocaust Education, prevention of Antisemitism and international cooperation. He coordinates Austria’s National Strategy against Antisemitism in the field of Education, Science and Research. He is a member of the Austrian delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance - IHRA. Moritz Wein was an intern at Centropa in 2011!
Historian, Principal Investigator at "Unlikely Refuge?"
Michal received his PhD in modern history from the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Charles University in Prague and has held several fellowships and research grants. His PhD thesis provided a new history, and an interpretation, of the late 19th century Czech antisemitism.
Michal’s interest in refugee history started from research on Czechoslovak reactions to people fleeing Nazi Germany. Together with Kateřina Čapková, he published Unsichere Zuflucht, the history of the Czechoslovak refugee policies in the 1930s. As the Principal Investigator of the Unlikely refuge? project, Michal directs the team thematically and methodologically and makes sure the project connects the dots in the synchronic and diachronic comparative research. He currently works on a book about Jewish refugees in the no man’s land in East-Central Europe at the end of the 1930s (supported by the Czech Science Foundation). Within the Unlikely refuge? project, he also contributes as the country expert for former Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. He is particularly interested in investigating the continuities and ruptures in the negotiation of refugeedom in East-Central Europe over the 20th century and to make refugees at home in the histories of the region.
Director “Austrian-Jewish cultural heritage” in the Federal Chancellery
Antonio Martino born 1978 in Carrara (Italy). He holds a PhD in law (2003) and an LL.M. in international law (2013).
Antonio Martino is director of the task force “Austrian-Jewish cultural heritage” in the Federal Chancellery (BKA). The task force is the responsible department in the BKA for coordinating the implementation of the Austrian National Strategy against Antisemitism (NAS). Thus, Martino is the national coordinator for combating antisemitism and head of the Austrian delegation to the European Commission's “Working Group on the implementation of the EU-strategy on combating antisemitism and fostering Jewish life”. He also represents the Austrian government in the World Jewish Congress’ SECCA group (“Special Envoys & Coordinators Combating Antisemitism”).
During the Austrian EU-Council Presidency 2018 Antonio Martino was chairperson of the Council of the European Union preparatory body CATS and successfully negotiated the “Council Declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the development of a common security approach to better protect Jewish communities and institutions in Europe”.
Martino is lecturer at the University of Innsbruck and University of Vienna. He is author of several books and articles on EU and international law as well as national and EU policies for the fight against antisemitism and racism. He is member of the Arbeitskreis Europäische Integration e.V. (AEI/ECSA Germany).
PhDr. Jan Roubínek
Director, Terezin Memorial
Jan Roubínek studied history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and Charles University in Prague. From 2008 to 2011 he was a member of a historical research team for a projekt focusing on Dr. Georg Alter, working with Professor Gad Freudenthal, the Head of Research at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
In 2011 he began working at the history department of the Terezín Memorial, coordinated the international GEPAM project, and became involved in teaching. In 2015 he became the head of the documentation department at the Terezín Memorial and a member of the advisory committee for collections and acquisitions.
He has headed the Terezín Memorial since 2017.