Students for Holocaust Awareness and Hillel present the 11th Annual Holocaust Awareness Week at Colorado State University from Feb. 26-March 2. Speakers and events throughout the week will reflect this year’s theme, "Do Not Stand Idly By."
"The theme represents one of action," says Carmody Leerssen, president of Students for Holocaust Awareness. "It tells us that we must do something or say something anytime we hear an anti-Semitic, racist, sexist or homophobic remark. If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it."
This year’s keynote speakers will be Dave Gewirtzman and Eugenie Mukeshimana. They will speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Lory Student Center Theatre. Although from different backgrounds, Gewirtzman, a child Holocaust survivor, and Mukeshimana, a survivor of Rwandan genocide, will share common experiences with genocide that bring them together in a program called "Voices of Survival." The program also is sponsored by the Office of Black Student Services as part of Black History Month.
At 7 p.m. Feb. 26, three Holocaust survivors will share their stories in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom during the annual Survivors Panel. Osi Sladek, Peter Ney and Lillian Gewirtzman each will speak about their stories of survival. A question-and-answer session with the audience will follow. Last year, participants at the Survivors Panel numbered more than 500 people.
Survivor Lillian Gewirtzman is married to keynote speaker Dave Gewirtzman. Originally from Poland, she was deported when she was a child to a labor camp in the forests of European Siberia. She managed to escape to the Ukraine and spent her teenage years in a displaced persons camp in Germany. Fellow survivors Sladek and Ney were born in Czeckloslovakia and Nuremburg, respectively.
Also, Holocaust survivor Judy Meisel will host a presentation of her documentary film, "Tak For Alt, Survival of the Human Spirit," at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 in the Lory Student Center Theatre. Meisel also is a civil rights activist who has shown her documentary around the country, particularly to high schools, as a crusade against hate and intolerance. Her documentary details the time she spent at her home in Lithuania as well as her experiences in a concentration camp and her successful escape to Denmark with her sister. After the film, Meisel will answer questions from the audience.
The final keynote speaker, Jud Newborn, will present "Sophie Scholl and the White Rose" at 7 p.m. March 1 in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom. Newborn, a captivating public speaker, author and advocate of human rights, will tell the story of the White Rose, about which he has written a book that now has been adapted to film. The White Rose was a group of young German college students who rose up against the Nazi regime. Newborn also incorporates present-day lessons such as the issues of global anti-Semitism and terrorism while remembering the lessons of the Holocaust. A book signing and reception takes place after the presentation.
Two afternoon presentations also are scheduled. At 12:15 p.m. Feb. 27 in Lory Student Center Room 203, the International Connections Brown Bag Series will present "Displaced Persons: Rebuilding Culture and Community in the Aftermath of WWII." And at noon March 1 in Lory Student Center Room 224, Fort Collins resident and historian Ron Sladek will provide a presentation on his recent return to Slovakia with his father Osi, who survived the Holocaust there.
At 7 p.m. Feb. 23, the Association for Student Activity Programming will present the film "Bent" in the Lory Student Center Theatre. Based on the award-winning play by Sherman Martin and starring Clive Owen and Ian McKellen, "Bent" chronicles the struggles of a gay man who not only survived a concentration camp, but emerged from it a better, more caring human being at peace with his sexuality. "Bent" is co-sponsored by Students for Holocaust Awareness, Hillel and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) Student Services. This film is recommended for mature audiences.
Additionally, a Litany of Martyrs will be held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. every day in the Lory Student Center Sunken Lounge. During this time, volunteers will take turns reading names of some of those who died during the Holocaust. Community members are welcome to volunteer for this event. A Field of Flags will be on display during the entire week on the Natural Resources Building lawn. The flags represent the different groups murdered during the Holocaust, with each flag representing 5,000 victims.
The week will conclude with a memorial service at noon March 2 in the Lory Student Center Art Lounge.
All events are free to the public thanks to funding provided by the Associated Students of Colorado State University, Hillel of Colorado and the Association for Student Activity Programming.
For more information, contact Hillel at Colorado State University at (970) 491-2080 or visit csu.hillelcolorado.org.