Dr. David Frey

Dr. David Frey


Director Center Holocaust and Genocide Studies



Dr. David Frey is Professor of History and Founding Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  As Director of the CHGS, Dr. Frey has spearheaded efforts to increase Academy, Army and Defense Department awareness of, understanding of, and efforts to prevent mass atrocity.  He is the author of Jews, Nazis, and the Cinema of Hungary: The Tragedy of Success, 1929-44 and co-author of Ordinary Soldiers: A Study in Law, Ethics and Leadership.  Dr. Frey earned his Ph.D. in Central European History at Columbia University.  Prior to West Point, he taught at Columbia University.  He serves on the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Education Committee and is a steering committee member of the National Consortium of Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Centers.  With the USHMM and Department of Defense partners, he created the Atrocity Prevention Network, a network of US government personnel engaged in atrocity prevention education.  Projects, programs, products he has created now are utilized or incorporate various elements of the Department of Defense, the State Department, USAID, the intelligence community, and various Combatant Commands.  At West Point he is the elected Chair of the Superintendent’s Civilian Faculty Advisory Council and the Co-Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Studies Minor.  In 2012 he was Fulbright Research Scholar in Hungary.  He has won grants and fellowships from DARPA, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, the Nathaniel Littauer Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, the German Academic Exchange (DAAD), the Mellon Foundation, the Harriman Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).  The US Holocaust Memorial Museum named him one of seven international “agents of change” in 2018.

Ongoing Research Projects

The Gender and Genocide Project.  This joint project on historical gender-based crimes examines their relationship to mass atrocities and introduces the concept of gender-based analysis for senior leaders.  Partners include the National Defense University, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and various university scholars in Europe and the US.  Collaborators also include DoD and STATE officials working on Women, Peace, and Security initiatives.

A Digital Case Study of the Leadership and Character of LTG (R) Roméo Dallaire.  This study examines the actions of LTG Dallaire, the Force Commander of the UN Mission in Rwanda, during the Rwandan Genocide.  Partners include the Department of Geography, Notre Dame, and LTG Roméo Dallaire.  The case study will have embedded documents, video, interactive maps, and interactive timelines.

The Mass Atrocity Early Warning Mobile Application.  This multi-university and multi-agency project aims to predict mass atrocity and widely disseminate vetted information about those threats.  Partners include the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the Air Force Academy, Dartmouth College, Penn State, and the Center for the Prevention of Genocide.

The Violent Non-state Actors’ Database.  This multi-university and multi-agency project on the development of violent non-state actors aims to link the fields of atrocity prevention, organized crime, and terrorism in order to develop a comprehensive historical database of violent non-state actors.  The long-term goal is to better study how violent non-state actors transform and better predict which ones might become capable of committing mass atrocities.

The Virtual Liberator/Survivor Project.  As survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides dwindle in number, scholars have sought alternative ways to preserve and convey their unique experiences.  This project, a cooperative effort of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Departments of Foreign Language and Behavioral Sciences and Leadership, the Institute of Creative Technology, and the Shoah Foundation, seeks to utilize interactive holograms of genocide survivors and liberators in foreign language classes to test if they build compassion and empathy and if they enhance language learning.

The Ritchie Boys Project.  Camp Ritchie played a crucial role in the development of American intelligence and interrogation commissioned and non-commissioned officers during the Second World War.  Many of its trainees were Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Europe. Their contributions to the defeat of Nazism – the story of refugees contributing to the defense of their adopted country and becoming Americans – deserves much greater recognition than it has previously received.  This long-term project, which aims to produce scholarly work and a feature film, will address that need.  Partners include the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Military Intelligence Museum and Archive at Fort Huachuca, the Center for Military History and the National Museum of American Jewish Military History.  Multiple surviving “Ritchie Boys” are also contributing oral histories and artifacts to the project.

The Treaty Violations Program. Human rights, espionage, deportations, show trials and the rhetoric and memory of the Holocaust.  This is an individual research project 

Publications & Presentations

With Michael Geheran, “Leadership in War and Genocide: Roméo Dallaire in Rwanda.” Historians on Leadership and Strategy. Case Studies from Antiquity to Modernity.  Ed. Martin Gutman. Berlin: Springer Verlag, 2019. 

“The Social Practice of (In)equality in Nazi Germany.” Equality, More or Less. Eds. Robert Tully and Bruce Chilton.  Lanham, MD: Hamilton Books, forthcoming 2019. 

With David Gioe and Michael Goodman, “Unforgiven: Russian Intelligence Vengeance as Political Theater and Strategic Messaging.” Intelligence and National Security (2019). https://doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2019.1573537 .

“Která cesta vede ke křesťanskému nacionalismu?  Maďarská kinematografie válečného období v Evropě Novém řádu” (Which Path to Christian Nationalism?  Wartime Hungarian Cinema in New Order Europe).” Illuminace.  Journal for Film Theory, History, and Aesthetics 30, no.4 (2018): 61-86. 

“Educating the Military…and Others.  Building the Basis for Effective Atrocity Prevention.” Teaching Genocide: Insights and Advice from Secondary Teachers and Professors, vol. 2. Ed. Samuel Totten.  NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

In association with Charles Costanzo, et.al., “Atrocity Early Warning: A Historiographical Study of the Prevention of Mass Atrocities.” Paths of Innovation:  West Point Case Studies in Change and Warfare.  Ed. Nicholas Sambaluk. NY: Lexington Press/Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.

Jews, Nazis, and the Cinema of Hungary: The Tragedy of Success, 1929-44.  I.B. Tauris, 2017.

 “Echoes of the Shoah: the 1951 Resettlement of Budapest’s Jews.”  American Responses to the Holocaust: Transatlantic Perspectives.  Eds. Derek Rubin and Hans Krabbendam.  Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2017.

“A Smashing Success? The Paradox of Hungarian Cultural Imperialism in Nazi New Order Europe, 1939-1942.” Journal of Contemporary History, 51, 3 (2016): 577-605 https://doi.org/10.1177/0022009415622804