Our Director

“Dr. Wolpow has been a tireless advocate for Holocaust, genocide, and ethnocide education on campus and in the community, and I look forward to continuing his important work.” — Sandra Alfers

Dr. Alfers is the founding director of The Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity and Professor of German and German Section Head in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Western Washington University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2003 and has worked at Western since 2008. In 2013, the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) designated Western’s German program a “National Center of Excellence.” Dr. Alfers teaches a broad range of German language, culture, and literature courses on all levels of the curriculum. Recently, she has explored the uses of new technologies in the L2 classroom; she developed a German mobile application as well as an online textbook for her third-year literature class.


In her research, Dr. Alfers focuses on the literature of the Holocaust, particularly on German-language poetry written in Theresienstadt between 1941-1945. Her English- and German-language publications have appeared in international journals such as Monatshefte, Oxford German Studies, and Études Arméniennes Contemporaines, and her work on Theresienstadt has been translated into Czech for Terezínské Studie A Dokumenty. Dr. Alfers’ book on the German-Jewish activist and writer Else Dormitzer weiter schreiben. Leben und Lyrik der Else Dormitzer was published in late 2015 by Hentrich & Hentrich in Berlin, Germany. She is a member of the academic council of the Holocaust Educational Foundation at Northwestern University. In 2015, she received a College of Humanities and Social Sciences Radke Faculty Family Award to design a minor in Holocaust & Genocide Studies at WWU.