Martin-Springer Institute

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Martin-Springer Institute
MottoTo utilize "public educational programs engage the history and legacy of the Holocaust to bring awareness to harms and injustices past and present
Formation2000; 24 years ago (2000)
  • Ralph Martin
  • Doris Martin
TypeNonprofit Organization
  • Flagstaff, Arizona, United States

The Martin-Springer Institute is part of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Institute’s mission is to utilize "public educational programs engage the history and legacy of the Holocaust to bring awareness to harms and injustices past and present. It also offers programs to strengthen community resources, resilience, and reconciliation through education, dialogue, and research."[1]


The Institute started its work in 2001 through an endowment by Doris Martin (née Szpringer)[2] and Ralph Martin.[3] Doris was born and raised in Bedzin, Poland. She survived the Holocaust as an adolescent woman. After years in a labor camp (under the administration of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp), Doris was able to reunite with other surviving family members in 1945, eventually finding her way to America and settling in Flagstaff, Arizona. She later wrote Kiss Every Step about her time during the War and survival of the Holocaust.[4]

Initially, Alex Alvarez served as the director of MSI, handing over the leadership in 2004 to Gretchen McAllister who served for five years. In 2009, Jane Marks became the director of MSI bringing an environmental focus to the institution's work. Under her leadership, MSI initiated a series dedicated to Human Rights and The Environment, that featured numerous prolific speakers including Spike Lee,[5] Winona LaDuke,[6] Cornel West.[7] Claudio Sanchez, Nalini Nadkarni, Paul Fiegl, Jen Marlowe, and Art Spiegelman.[8] Soon after that, MSI also started community outreach events addressing anti-bullying. Marks also sponsored and co-signed an open-letter contesting Arizona’s controversial immigration bill, SB 1070,[9] and hosted a public debate[10] on the merits of the bill.

The institute is currently under the directorship of Björn Krondorfer since 2012.[11] The institute works with students and diverse communities, including Holocaust survivor associations, Native American groups, local and national organizations, and international partners. [12]

The Institute is the main location for Holocaust education training for Arizona teachers. For the past 15 years, it has offered annual two-day Holocaust education workshops at Northern Arizona University for teachers from school districts across Arizona. Whereas on the first day teachers learn best practices of Holocaust education, the second day shifts focus to a special topic presented by Holocaust scholars.

The Institute also serves to provide Arizona teachers with training and dialogue to improve Holocaust education in the state. [13]


The Martin-Springer Institute[14] has curated and created a number of historical and art exhibits pertaining to its mission, including two traveling exhibits available to public and educational venues. Exhibits include:

  • Traveling exhibit: Resilience: Women In Flagstaff’s Past and Present [15]traces the lives of 21 women from the 1880s to 2010s in Flagstaff, AZ. It pays homage to women from diverse communities who overcame various hardships while continuing to care for the community.[16]
  • Art Exhibit (curated): Echoes of Loss: Artistic Responses to Trauma was an international, invitational group show of works of artists of Jewish, Iranian, German, American, Israeli, Slovakian, and Native American backgrounds. It opened at the Coconino Center for the Arts in Flagstaff, for which a catalogue was also created.[17]
  • Art Exhibit (co-curated): Wounded Landscape features two artists who are descendants from Holocaust survivors, Arie Galles and Karen Baldner.
  • Art Installation (commissioned): Culpable, installed by artist Shawn Skabelund,[18] brings awareness to the judicial streamlining procedures that migrants are facing after crossing the border into Arizona.[19]

Speaker Events

Annual speaker events organized by the Institute offer students and the community opportunities to meet important scholars and public figures. They include, among others, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Masha Gessen, David Treuer, Father Patrick Desbois, Morris Dees, and Jennifer Teege.[20]

National and International Cooperation

The institute has worked and cooperated with a number of organizations on specific public programs and scholarly symposia. Nationally, they include the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Facing History and Ourselves; The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education; Misericordia University; The Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Center at Manhattan College; Scottsdale Community College; Museum of Northern Arizona; The Arizona Historical Society, and many others.

Internationally, they include The Jena Center for Reconciliation Studies (JCRS) at the University of Jena, the Sosnowiec Centrum Sztuki, The Martin-Springer Center of Conflict Studies at Ben Gurion University, the Holocaust & Genocide Center in Johannesburg, and the Institute for the Academic Study of Eastern Christianity, Amsterdam.


Scholarly roundtable symposia by the Martin-Springer Institute include:

  • Post-Auschwitz and Post-Gulag Legacies: Building Blocks for an Ethics of Responsibility (2020)
  • Strangers or Neighbors? Jewish, Muslim and Christian Perspectives on Refugees (2017)
  • Thinking Critically about Masculinities in Mass Atrocity Crimes (2016)
  • Abrahamic Religions: Challenges and Cooperation in the Age of Extremism (2016)
  • Colonial Conquest in the Nazi East and American West: Value and Limits of Comparative Approaches (2015)


  1. "About the institute". About the Institute, Martin-Springer Institute, Northern Arizona University. Northern Arizona University. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  3. name="Doris Martin">Hendricks, Larry. "Never forget: Holocaust survivor Doris Martin still telling her story". Arizona Daily Sun. Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  4. "Holocaust Survivor, Doris Martin, to Speak at Escondido Public Library". Escondido Public Library. City of Escondido. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  5. "Spike Lee to visit NAU on Holocaust Remembrance Day – NAU News". Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  6. "Former Green Party vice presidential candidate to speak on campus – NAU News". Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  7. Reporter, HILLARY DAVIS Sun Staff. "Cornel West tells crowd at NAU that education matters". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  8. "Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic artist to visit NAU". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  9. "Students debate SB1070". The Lumberjack. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  10. "Students debate SB1070". The Lumberjack. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  11. "New director for NAU's Martin-Springer Institute". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 2020-08-18.
  12. "Alumni Bjorn Krondorfer". Santa Fe Art Institute. Santa Fe Art Institute. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  13. Rubinoff, Michael. "Improving Holocaust Education in Arizona". Arizona State University Jewish Studies. Arizona State University. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  15. Reporter, SVEA CONRAD Sun Staff. "History's resting place: NAU special collections and 'Resilience'". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 2020-08-18.
  16. Conrad, Svea. "Overcoming the Odds: Exhibit Tells Story of Flagstaff Women Past and Present". Arizona Daily Sun. Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  17. "Echoes of Loss: Artistic Responses to Trauma". Flagstaff Arts Council. Flagstaff Arts Council. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  19. Skabelund, Shawn. "Culpable". Shawn Skabelund. Shawn Skablund. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  20. "Past Events". Martin-Springer Institute, Northern Arizona University. Northern Arizona University. Retrieved 25 March 2020.

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