Remembering Professor Michael Marrus

January 16, 2023 by The Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies

Our community mourns the loss of Professor Michael Marrus, who died on Friday, December 23, 2022 at the age of 81.He is remembered by his wife, Carol "Randi" Marrus (Greenstein), his children Jeremy and Adam Marrus, Naomi and Alan Kriss, his grandchildren, siblings, and extended family, as well as friends, colleagues and students who have been impacted by his presence in their lives.

In the words of his daughter, Naomi Kriss, Professor Marrus was "devoted to the eminence of [the University of Toronto]", where he served as Dean of the Graduate School for 7 years and on the Governing Council of the institution for 19 years. Professor Marrus was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the Order of Canada. Kriss remembers her father as "deeply influenced by his parents Elliot Lloyd Marrus, a lawyer, and Lillian Marrus, a fashion designer, homemaker and romantic. He appreciated originality above labels, sartorial style, an interesting home, a buzzy restaurant, a comfortable chair, international travels, a good book, a strong martini, an amusing conversation, and above all he cherished his love and anchor, Randi."

Professor Marrus was the inaugural Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto. Through his teaching, research, and publications, Prof. Marrus advanced scholarship on the Holocaust, refugees, Zionism and antisemitism. He has published many award-winning books. Doris Bergen, who succeeded him as Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies, remembers Prof. Marrus as a brilliant historian of the Holocaust drawn to the biggest and most important questions, a charismatic teacher and cherished friend. He "was a leader also by inspiring and mentoring other scholars, opening new possibilities for them. He encouraged his PhD students to pursue topics related to his interests – Pope Pius XII, postwar trials – yet he guided them in ways that invited them to develop their own take on the issues. Once at an event, a graduate student asked [Prof. Marrus] what he considered the most pressing issues in Holocaust Studies that scholars should address in the future. He answered, “That’s for you to decide.” [Prof. Marrus] believed each generation approaches the Holocaust through its own eyes, with its own issues and priorities, and this is how creativity happens. He had wide-ranging interests, yet like everyone, he didn’t see what he didn’t see or always recognize what he didn’t understand. Still he was always eager to learn and intensely curious and he rejected cliches and easy answers."

Both the CJN  and the Globe and Mail have posted memorial pieces, including a piece by journalist Judy Stoffman, which can be found here: PDF iconStoffman's tribute to Prof. Michael Marrus.pdf

Prof. Michael Marrus has been remembered worldwide, with pieces published in his memory in the H-Judaic, TheTimes of Israel, and a hommage by Annette Wieviorka in the French magazine L’Histoiredemonstrating the global impact of his scholarship as a historian.

On January 16, 2023, the University of Toronto flag is being flown at half-mast in memory of Professor Michael Marrus.