Upstander Connection

Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Two April Events You Won’t Want to Miss: Special Screening of Schindler’s List and Yom Hashoah Commemoration

schindlers_listThe Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance has been dedicated to inspiring people to think about the consequences of their choices by teaching the Holocaust and other genocides.  Now in our 30th year, we remain steadfast in that dedication.

To mark 30 years, the Museum is proud to announce two special Holocaust Remembrance opportunities in April, the exclusive showing of Academy Award winning Schindler’s List and the 2014 Yom Hoshoah Commemoration.

On Thursday, April 24, at the Inwood Theater, the Museum will present an exclusive private benefit screening of Schindler’s List beginning at 6 p.m. The benefit screening will support the Museum and the USC Shoah Foundation in recognition of the vital work of both organizations, which have enlightened and inspired many people through the use of Holocaust testimony.

The film will not be re-released in theaters, so this is a unique chance to experience one of the most historically significant films of our time, one that led to the worldwide recording of Holocaust testimonies.

On Sunday, April 27, at Temple Shalom, the Museum will present the 2014 Yom Hashoah Commemoration, beginning at 6:30 p.m. This year’s Yom Hashoah observance is a testament to how the Holocaust changed the world. Special guests will light the six torches representing the six million who perished in the Holocaust. A musical presentation will allow us to further reflect on the lasting effects of the Holocaust.

Supporting both events enables you to contribute to two meaningful organizations, as well as remember and honor family, friends, and loved ones through words, photographs, and memorialization within our Yom Hashoah Book of Remembrance.

Join us at these events as we commemorate the Museum’s 30 years of education and promotion of tolerance within the human community. Celebrate the noble and necessary work of the USC Shoah Foundation and its impact on research and dedication to testimonial evidence. And finally, join us as we remember the events of the Holocaust and celebrate the lives of victims, Survivors, and Upstanders everywhere.

For information on how to become a sponsor for the April 24 benefit screening or to include your Memorial and Tribute to the Yom Hashoah Book of Remembrance, click here.

Besa: Perhaps the Last Great Untold Story of World War II; Now on Exhibit

"Besa: A Code of Honor" exhibit tells the story of how Muslim Albanians rescued Jews during World War II

“Besa: A Code of Honor” exhibit tells the story of how Muslim Albanians rescued Jews during World War II

 

Seventy-five years ago, when the Nazis began their murderous takeover of Eastern Europe, Jews by the hundreds began relocating into what is now the Republic of Albania, seeking protection.

One of the poorest countries in Southeastern Europe, Albania, where nearly two-thirds of the population adheres to Islam, seemed one of the least likely places for Jews to seek refuge.

Prior to World War II only about 200 Albanians were Jewish. At the end of the war, about 2,000 Jews called Albania home.

Besa is the reason why.

Besa is an Albanian cultural precept, usually translated as “faith,” that means “to keep the promise” and “word of honor” and descends from the Kanun, a collection of laws which regulate Albanian social, economic and religious lives, together with traditional customs and cultural practices of the Albanian society that originated in the year 1400. Besa is an important part of personal and familial standing and is often used as an example of “Albanianism.”

Besa is the subject of a new exhibit at the Museum, “BESA: A Code of Honor,” which tells the story of the Muslim families of Albania who rescued Jews during World War II through the incredible photography of American Norman H. Gershman.

At the opening reception of the new exhibit on March 13 at the Museum, the award-winning film documentary, Besa: The Promise (2012), was screened before a standing-room only crowd at the Museum. The screening was preceded by a marvelous reception catered by the Albanian-American Cultural Center.

The documentary tells the story of the incredible courage of Albanians during World War II through the contemporary journeys of Gershman, who is urgently striving to document the lives of Jewish rescuers before they die, and a shop owner named Rexhep Hoxha, who is desperately trying to return a set of Hebrew prayer books to the survivor his family protected some 60 years earlier during Nazi occupation.

The journeys of the two men intersect at a highly emotional and impactful crossroads as the cameras roll, making the documentary’s ending reveal “a story like no other,” in the words of one reviewer.

On March 23, the Museum will present a matinee screening of the film at 2 p.m. at the Museum Theater. Admission is $5 and RSVPs are required at RSVP@DallasHolocaustMuseum.come. The public is invited.

Rather than hiding the Jews in attics or woods, Albanians brought them into their homes, gave them Albanian names and treated them as part of the family, noted Mary Pat Higgins, Museum President and CEO.

“My father never talked about what he did for the Jews,” one Albanian shop keeper said in the documentary. “He thought it was normal.”

So warm was the welcome for the Jews, said another woman in the film, that her parents used to say, “We don’t know any Jews. We only know Albanians.”

Said Mary Pat: “In a time when religion continues to serve as a divisive force in the world, we are honored to tell the story of these Upstanders, who saw beyond religious difference and chose to act, based on their ethics—Besa—to do what was right and defy Nazi orders. This is history that moves us forward.”

Doc Vranici, Executive Director of the Albanian American Cultural Center, thanked the Museum for hosting the exhibit and for helping share a piece of hidden history of Albania—that Muslims saved Jews during World War II.

Bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south and southeast, Albania became a Communist country, following WW II where religion expression of any kind was punishable by lengthy prison terms. As part of the fall of Eastern bloc Communism in the late 1980s, Albania became a democratic Republic in 1991.

However, the effects of the transition from a centralized economy in a rigid communist state to a free market economy in a democratic republic have weighed heavily on Albania’s people, and particularly on its poor people. Despite the economy’s robust growth in recent years, almost one quarter of the population lives below the poverty level of $2 (U.S.) a day.

Albanians treatment of Jews during World War II proves “that there are far more good people in the world than bad,” Gershman said. “This little country—they have something to teach the world.”

The Presenting Sponsor of the new Museum exhibit, “BESA: A Code of Honor,” is the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation. Community Partners include the Albanian-American Cultural Center, Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Congregation Beth Torah. Running through June 18, the exhibit is free with admission. More information at DallasHolocaustMuseum.org

-Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Cyberbullying: Prevalent and Urgent Issue for Children, Parents and the Community

Cyberbullying is the intentional and repeated mistreatment of others through the use of technology, such as computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.

On Sunday, Feb. 23, Roberta S. Clark, the Community Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the recipient of the 2013 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award, delivered a special presentation on cyberbullying.

Her message comes at a time when approximately 20% of young people report a problem with cyberbullying at some point in their lives, according to a 2010 study from the Cyberbullying Research Center.

The ADL website provides powerful statistics on cyberbullying that reveal just how prevalent and urgent the issue has become. In a study of 500,000 third to 12th grade students, 17% reported being bullied at least 2-3 times in the last month. In a survey of 655 teens from 13- to 18-years-old, approximately 1 in 10 reported themselves as the aggressor, having cyberbullied someone online or by text message.

Even more shocking, perhaps, is the rate of bystanders who do not intervene. In a study of classroom behavior, children and youth were present during 85% of bullying episodes, but stepped in just 10% of the time. There are, however, solutions to these problems. Statistics show that allies who speak out on behalf of someone else or take actions that are supportive of someone else are able to halt more than half of all bullying behaviors in less than ten seconds.

The ADL suggests being an Upstander instead of a bystander by taking a few simple steps in order to stop and prevent bullying whenever it arises. Whether or not you know the person who is the target of bullying, it is important to show compassion by asking if they are okay, going with them to get help, and making sure they know they are not alone. Another way to be an ally is to not participate. Choose the high road and let people know by your behavior that bullying is not right. And when confronted with a bullying situation, don’t be afraid to speak up. Tell aggressors to stop or inform a trusted adult if you need help dealing with the problem.

The ADL provides education and resources online for both children and adults.

To be an ally to those who experience bullying, visit http://www.adl.org/assets/pdf/education-outreach/Be-an-Ally-Six-Ways-online-version.pdf

For 10 easy ways to respond to bullying, visit

http://www.adl.org/assets/pdf/education-outreach/10-Ways-to-Respond-to-Bullying.pdf

For facts and statistics on bullying, visit

http://www.adl.org/education-outreach/bullying-cyberbullying/c/definitions-bullying-and-bias.html#ftn2

And for all of the ADL’s resources and ways to help out, visit

http://www.adl.org/education-outreach/bullying-cyberbullying/

 -Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

 

 

For Magie Furst and her family, the lifeline to safety and freedom came through the Upstanders of Great Britain

Magie Furst

Magie Furst

 

The Museum’s current exhibit, A History of the Kindertransport, now through Feb. 28, features the story of Dallas resident Magie Furst and her brother, Bert, who were both saved through the British rescue operation. On Feb. 2, Magie told her story to a standing-room only crowd of 140 Museum members and visitors. This is the story she told.

In 1932, Alfred and Sida Romberg were proud parents of a daughter and son born just a year apart, living a wonderful life in the small German village of Astheim, near Nuremburg, where they owned a general merchandise store.

But a year later, following the appointment of Adolph Hitler as German Chancellor, the Romberg’s tranquil life became a nightmare. Before 1934 came to an end, Alfred Romberg was dead—a heart attack brought on by stress from aggressive perpetrators.

The Rombergs were upstanding citizens once beloved by the entire village. But all that changed when Hitler’s Nazi party came to power. The Rombergs were Jewish.

Following Alfred’s death, Sida Romberg was left alone to raise 5-year-old Magie and 4-year-old Bert. When the anti-Semitism worsened, Sida was forced to sell the store for a fraction of its value and moved the children to the larger town of Eshwege, Germany, where other family resided.

The years in Eshwege were brutal, recalled Magie, now 84.

“Those were bad years, because Hitler was in full force already. We had restrictions on going to school. We went to an all Jewish school until some of the teachers emigrated. And then after Kristallnacht (Nov. 9-10, 1938), we didn’t have school anymore…the Hitler youth, they went after us whenever we went out.

“I remember we went out to get a loaf of bread, and they took the loaf right out of my hand. They wanted to smash it on my brother’s head, but I stood in front of him, so I got the beating instead. I must have been eight years old.”

Following Kristallnacht— a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and non-Jewish civilians (the German authorities looked on without intervening)—Sida Romberg knew her children had no future in Germany and set out to find visas for them to leave Germany. At the time, Germany was still issuing visas to Jews and others who could prove they had relatives or a sponsoring organization in another country.

When her mother learned of the Kindertransport program, a rescue mission that took place during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the WWII, she seized the opportunity to send her daughter and son to the United Kingdom, which took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Free City of Danzig. Children of the Kindertransport were placed in British foster homes, hostels, schools and farms.

In an extraordinary stroke of good fortune, Sida Romberg received permission to work as a domestic servant in England.  The three of them prepared to leave for England together.

Saying goodbye to her grandmother, Magie said, was one of the most painful moments of her life. Her grandmother had been a source of stability and comfort, following the sudden death of Magie’s father, Alfred. Tragically, the Nazis would eventually remove her grandmother from a home for the elderly and deport her to Auschwitz, where she was murdered.

On May 23, 1939, Sida Romberg and her two children arrived in England, but once there were separated as Sida did not earn enough to support herself and her children.

Bert was placed with a wonderful family. Magie did not fare so well. “I became a cheap maid in a family headed by an abusive man,” she said. After a month of suffering, Magie was sent to an orphanage to live.

While the war years in England were tough, Magie said she, Bert and her mother were eternally grateful to the people of Great Britain. “They opened their hearts and homes to us when no other country—not even the United States—would do so,” she said.

Sida Romberg never gave up hope for reuniting the family, and in April, 1945, just a month before the formal end of WWII, the three Rombergs received visas to emigrate to the U.S.

“There is no country like the United States in this world,” Magie said.

Settling in the New York City metro area, the Rombergs thrived. Eventually, Magie would marry and accompany her husband in 1963 to the Dallas area. Three years later, Bert also moved to Dallas after receiving a great job opportunity. Wishing to be near the children she sought so valiantly to protect, Sida Romberg also made the move to Texas.

As she reflects on her rare experience as a rescued child of the Kindertransport, Magie is grateful for being spared the horrors of war even though the separation from loved ones was difficult. And, she feels obligated to share her story as a regular speaker before student groups—sometimes three and four times a week—who visit the Museum.

“We are supposed to be our brother’s keeper,” she said. “We need to make sure that children of the future never have to endure what my generation did.”

“A History of the Kinderstransport” exhibit is made possible by the generosity of Ann Donald Zetley & Florence and Howard Shapiro in Loving Memory of Martin Donald.

–Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THGC Announces Video Contest for High School Students

As part of the commemoration of Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month in April 2014, the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission is hosting a video competition open to all Texas students in grades 6-12.  Themed “I Was a Bystander,” the goal of the contest is to encourage students to self-reflect about times when they stayed silent in the face of hurtful behavior and think about what they might do in similar situations in the future.

Students will create a short video, 1 to 2 ½  minutes, that will be judged on relevance to the mission of the THGC and on this year’s theme, originality, creativity, technical achievement, and emergence of an upstanding message or vision. Results will be announced in April, and the winners and their teachers will be invited to receive their prizes at the THGC Quarterly Meeting on July 18 in Austin.

Three winners from grades 6-8 and three winners from grades 9-12 will each be awarded a scholarship: the Gold Key worth $375 for first place, the Silver Key worth $200 for second, and the Bronze Key worth $125 for third. The schoolteachers of Gold Key winners will receive $100 for class supplies.

The 2014 Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month Video Contest scholarship prizes are generously underwritten by Dr. Kelli Cohen Fein and Martin Fein of Houston and by Fran and Mark Berg of Dallas.

For complete details on the video competition, visit the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission website.

http://thgc.texas.gov/resources-for-education/resource/thgc-video-contest

 

 

Led by Local Holocaust Survivors, the Museum Community Mourns and Remembers Victims of the Shoah on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Sixty-nine years ago today—January 27, 1945—Soviet troops liberated the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau where more than one million Jews alone had been murdered.

In 2005, 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the United Nations approved General Assembly Resolution 60-7, establishing January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day and urging every UN member nation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and encouraging the development of programs about Holocaust history to prevent further acts of genocide.

More than 11 million people perished in the Holocaust—of which six million were Jews; victims included the Roma, Soviet civilians and prisoners of war, ethnic Poles, people with disabilities, homosexuals and political and religious opponents of the Nazis.

On Sunday, Dallas area Holocaust survivors, Museum members and guests marked the international day of remembrance through reflections and prayer during a special program at the Museum.

“As we gather today, as an interfaith community, we honor, remember and mourn the lives lost in the Holocaust,” said Mary Pat Higgins, Museum President and CEO. “As Professor Yehuda Bauer said in his address to the UN Assembly in 2006, ‘We are all one human race—interconnected and interdependent.’

“We can only imagine the beauty, brilliance and distinction that the victims of the Holocaust would have brought to our world. The capacity for evil that allowed their lives to be extinguished is inherent in each of us, and must be combated by each of us with the desire to do what is right and good.”

Rabbi Shawn Zell of Congregation Tiferet Israel of Dallas told the 85 people in attendance—including 10 local Survivors and a large contingent of visiting college students—that the total number of Jews affected by the Holocaust is closer to 30 million, factoring in the likely growth of families of murdered Jews.

“Each one of us, by virtue of being here today, share the heritage of the six million Jews not here with us today,” Rabbi Zell said. “Let’s continue to hold them in our hearts.”

Fr. Jonathan Austin of St. Jude (Catholic) Chapel in downtown Dallas urged those in attendance to embrace the full meaning of the word “tolerance.”

“Tolerance means a profound respect and love for the other person no matter the person’s nationality, language, religion or other background,” Fr. Austin said. “That’s why we must be vigilant in examining ourselves for places of darkness…Joy, love and peace are the weapons we have to collaborate against the darkness in the world today.”

Following the brief remarks by Mrs. Higgins, Rabbi Zell and Fr. Austin, the attendees, led by the local Survivors, moved next door to the Museum’s Memorial Room where Rabbi Zell said the Kaddish prayer and lit the Yarzeit candle in memory of Holocaust victims.

“We should not forgive ourselves if we ever forget,” Rabbi Zell said.

–Chris Kelley,  for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

For Kindertransport Families, an Inconceivable Choice

It’s an inhumane choice that no parent should ever have to face: leave a child with a complete stranger, so the child might have a chance to survive persecution and, ultimately, avoid being murdered—or keep the child and most assuredly risk his or her life.

But for tens of thousands of mostly Jewish families during World War II, this incomprehensible decision became one they were forced to make.

The Kindertransport was a British rescue operation that enabled 10,000 primarily Jewish children to escape the Nazis in the months leading up to the declaration of WW II. The initiative required a convergence of simultaneous efforts over a compressed time frame—speedy immigration policy creation, collaboration among diverse religious groups and, perhaps, most importantly, the bravery of individuals.

“A History of the Kindertransport” is the subject of the newest special exhibit at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.  Running through Feb. 28, the exhibit is free with paid admission. On Sunday, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m. at the Museum, Dallas resident Magie Furst, a Kindertransport refugee, will tell her first-hand story at a special program.

“What do you say to a child that you, a mother, are about to confide to a stranger—a child you most likely will never see again?” asked Dr. Charlotte Decoster, Education and Public Engagement Coordinator for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, at a special lecture on Jan. 16 entitled “The Last Kiss: Parents Saying ‘Goodbye’ During the Holocaust.”

For parents who applied to participate in the Kindertransport, the special immigration initiative was the only option for their children to escape persecution and almost certain death as Jewish families were rounded up and deported, ultimately, to death camps, said Dr. Decoster, an expert in the study of children hidden and rescued during the Holocaust.  In most cases, parents and their rescued children never saw one another again after the moment of separation, she said.

Through her research, Dr. Decoster, who is also an adjunct professor of history at the University of North Texas, where she received her Ph.D., discovered a painful process parents endured in separating from their children—from awareness of the option to save their children through coping with the aftermath of permanent separation from them.

At one deportation camp in southern France, where parents voluntarily turned 108 children over to Nazi resistance fighters who would see to the safety and security of the children, later research would reveal that 28 of the parents committed suicide.

“For the majority of parents who participated in the Kindertransport and similar child rescue efforts, they did what they thought was necessary—the hope of survival for their children and, by circumstance, their Jewish culture, heritage and religious practices,” Dr. Decoster said.

In most cases, rescued Jewish children were taken in by Christian families, including Catholics, and in some select cases Muslim families. While many of the children were allowed to practice Judaism, evidence reveals some efforts at converting the children to Christianity, Dr. Decoster said.

The Museum’s Kindertransport exhibit allows students to contemplate the event from the perspective of a child, offering them the opportunity to ask themselves the question—and leave behind their answers on a colored index card—“What treasured item would you bring?”

In the final analysis, the story of the Kindertransport, like many from the Holocaust, reflects themes rooted in the depravity of humanity and in its nobility, Dr. Decoster said. In the face of evil behavior that surely would have seen children murdered otherwise, “We saw Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities make a decision to act and do something to ensure the survival of children.”

Presenting sponsors for the Kindertransport exhibit are Ann Donald Zetley and Florence and Howard Shapiro in loving memory of Martin Donald. Community Partners include Catholic Charities of Dallas and the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas.

Tickets to the Feb. 2 program featuring Margie Furst are $5 each. Register online at DallasHolocaustMuseum.org or RSVP to rsvp@dallasholocaustmuseum.org and pay at the door.

 –Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.

 

 

 

 

The Rise and Fall of the KKK: Special Museum Lecture Shocks, Enlightens Audience About the Klan’s Huge Influence in 1920s-era Dallas

In 1923, the State Fair of Texas held Ku Klux Klan Day.

In 1923, the State Fair of Texas held Ku Klux Klan Day.

It’s a statistic that a modern city would likely just as soon forget: In the mid-1920s, Dallas had the largest chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S. with more than 13,000 members.

And, Texas had the largest population of KKK members—men and women—in the nation with more than 159,000 members.

These findings are among the research tidbits unearthed by Dr. Natalie Ring, Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), who delivered a special lecture to a crowd of about 75 at the Museum on Dec. 12.

“Dallas’ KKK Chapter 66 was the largest chapter in the country, and it controlled city government, the courts, the law enforcement establishment and had strong influence among the clergy,” said Dr. Ring, who specializes in teaching U.S. Southern History.

From dues and fees, KKK Chapter 6 had an annual budget that is the equivalent to $1.3 million today, she said.

Dallas also had one of the largest chapters of Klan women, whose rallies drew huge audiences.

The first Ku Klux Klan flourished in the Southern United States in the late 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s, Dr. Ring said. Members adopted white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities. The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid-1920s, and adopted the same costumes and code words as the first Klan, while introducing cross burnings. The third KKK emerged after World War II and was associated with opposing the Civil Rights Movement and progress among minorities.

In the 1920s, the Klan sought to position itself as a law-abiding force for moral order that believed in good schools, clean politics, extreme Christian Protestantism and liberty. Above all, the Klan opposed immigration of just about any kind. Membership peaked in the mid-1920s with membership in the millions, Dr. Ring said.

In practice, the Klan was a vicious hate group, responsible for hundreds of lynchings nationwide. The Tuskegee Institute has recorded 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites were lynched between 1882 and 1968.

One of the catalysts for the Klan of the 1920s was the 1915 lynching near Atlanta of Jewish businessman Leo Frank after the Georgia governor commuted his death sentence to life in prison. Frank had been convicted in 1913 and sentenced to death for the murder of a young white factory worker named Mary Phagan, in a trial marked by media frenzy. The Frank case is the subject of a special exhibit at the Museum through the end of the year, “Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited.”

However, in Dallas, as word spread about the KKK’s violence against not only people of color in the Trinity River bottoms near downtown Dallas, but Caucasians deemed to have moral failings, and the arrests of KKK members responsible for the violence, public support eroded for the Klan.

In addition, the election of anti-Klan Texas governor Miriam Amanda Wallace “Ma” Ferguson (June 13, 1875 – June 25, 1961) in 1925—and sexual scandal involving national Klan officers—deflated Klan influence and membership by the late 1920s.

The Klan saw resurgence during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Today, KKK members numbers range between 3,000 and 5,000, although that doesn’t include larger unknown numbers of white supremacist hate groups, Dr. Ring said.  She cited the work of the Anti Defamation League (www.adl.org ) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (www.splccenter.org) in raising awareness—and monitoring activities—of modern hate groups operating in the U.S.

Through deeper and better understanding of historical hate groups, we—as a civil society—can better prepare to combat hate, prejudice and indifference for the benefit of all humanity.

–Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

 

Lynching Revisited: How Could It Have Possibly Happened? Keynote Speaker Introduces Newest Exhibit, “Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited”

Leo Frank

Leo Frank

Leo Frank was the victim of a twisted mentality—a mob mentality rooted not only in anti-Semitism, but in a weakness in Georgia’s legal system, national economic and political turmoil and complex psychological factors involving gender, fear and stereotypes, says Professor William Carrigan.

Dr. Carrigan, a Professor of History at Rowan University in New Jersey and keynote speaker at the Museum’s opening reception for the newest exhibit, “Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited,” is an expert on lynching.

The Museum’s comprehensive exhibit on the Leo Frank Case tells how in 1913 a jury convicted Frank, a superintendent in a pencil factory in Atlanta, Georgia, of the murder of a child laborer who worked in the factory. Thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan’s body was found in the pencil factory cellar.

To the outrage of many, Governor John Slaton, who believed Frank was innocent, commuted the former superintendent’s sentence to life in prison on his last day in office in June 1915.

Two months later, a lynch mob of 25 armed men, which included a judge, a solicitor general of a local circuit, a state legislator and an ex-governor, kidnapped Frank from prison. The mob drove Frank 150 miles to Frey’s Gin, near Phagan’s home in Marietta, and hanged him. A large crowd gathered and took photographs.

“There are just evil, bad people in the world,” Dr. Carrigan told a crowd of 85 people who attended his presentation in the Museum’s Theater on Sept. 9. “But in nearly all cases, lynching involves a mob culture ruled by a mentality permitted by a weakness in the legal system and support…by local law enforcement.”

Dr. Carrigan said a lynching culture—a phenomena seen around the globe, historically—viewed the alleged perpetrator’s crime as so heinous that mob members were permitted to act as jury, judges and executioners, nearly always before a large, cheering crowd.

In the U.S., nearly 3,500 African Americans and 1,300 whites were lynched between 1882 and 1968, mostly from 1882 to 1920, according to figures collected by the Archives of the Tuskegee Institute. Other people of color were also lynched—Native Americans and Mexicans.

It wasn’t until the practice was confronted and condemned by good people and a concerted effort to prosecute violators initiated, that it ended, said Dr. Carrigan, whose many books on the subject include The Making of a Lynching Culture: Violence and Vigilantism in Central Texas, 1836-1916 (University of Illinois Press, 2004).

The Frankcase was the ultimate catalyst for the fledgling Anti-Defamation League in 1913. The NAACP—formed in 1909—also contributed greatly to confronting ethnic and racial discrimination, and specifically lynching in early 20th century America, Dr. Carrigan said. Tragically however, the case helped ignite the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan.

“I would like to create our own ‘garden of the righteous’ to remember those who stood up against the lynch mobs,” Dr. Carrigan said. “We would be a better society to remember those folks rather than the mobsters.”

In 1986, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles pardoned Leo Frank, citing the state’s failure to protect the superintendent and bring his killers to justice as reasons for the pardoning.

The Museum presents this exhibit with the same intent as The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, which developed it. To revisit the case of Leo Frank and pose critical questions relating to individual and moral responsibility, respect for individual difference, the fragility of the democratic process, responsible citizenship, and the importance of community.

The exhibit presents the complicated and nuanced story of Mary Phagan’s murder, Leo Frank’s fate, and the historical, cultural, and political backdrop against which these events took place.

“Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited” will run through Dec. 31. The exhibit is generously supported by The Dallas Morning News and Brian Lidji, attorney and co-founder of the Lidji Dorey & Hooper law firm in Dallas.

Exhibit Dates: September 9, 2013 through December 31, 2013

Location: Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, 211 N. Record Street, Dallas, TX 75202 (In the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas at the southwest corner of Pacific and Record.)

Hours: Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.—5 p.m.

Community Partners: African-American Museum, Dallas; Anti-Defamation League; Black Classic Books, Baltimore, MD; Human Rights Initiative of North Texas; NAACP Dallas Chapter; SMU Embrey Human Rights Program; University of North Texas, Jewish Studies Program.

-Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

Podcast of Think (KERA-90.1 FM) with Dr. Carrigan

 

Delayed Justice: New Museum Special Exhibit Opening Sept. 1 Reexamines Historic Controversial Case

Leo Frank

Leo Frank

This exhibit, examines anti-Semitism in America. Through a large number of artifacts, it revisits the murder case and trial that ultimately captured the attention of the nation and led to the lynching of a Jewish man in Marietta, GA in 1915.

Exhibit Dates: September 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013

Location: Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, 211 N. Record Street, Dallas, TX 75202 (In the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas at the southwest corner of Pacific and Record.)

Hours: Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For Leo Frank, justice arrived too late to prevent his tragic and unlawful lynching. Today, however, his story finds a measure of redemption, serving as a powerful reminder of the evils of prejudice, hatred and indifference.

The Dallas Holocaust Museum will host its newest special exhibit, “Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited,” beginning Sept. 9. The exhibit will run through Tuesday, Dec. 31.

“Seeking Justice” will examine anti-Semitism in America. Through a large number of artifacts, the exhibit revisits the murder case and trial of Frank, which captured the attention of a nation a century ago.

In 1913, a jury convicted Frank, a Jewish superintendent in a pencil factory in Atlanta, Georgia, of the murder of a child laborer who worked in the factory. Thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan’s body was found in the pencil factory cellar.

Frank’s conviction came after a long trial. To the outrage of many, Governor John Slaton, who believed Frank was innocent, commuted the former superintendent’s sentence to life in prison on his last day in office in June 1915.

Two months later, a lynch mob of 25 armed men, including pillars of Georgia’s legal community, kidnapped Frank from prison. The mob drove Frank 150 miles to Frey’s Gin, near Phagan’s home in Marietta, and hanged him. A large crowd gathered and took photographs.

In 1986, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles pardoned Frank, citing the state’s failure to protect the Jewish superintendent and bring his killers to justice as reasons for the pardoning.

The pardon was inspired in part by the 1982 testimony of Alonzo Mann, who as an office boy saw Jim Conley carrying Mary Phagan’s body to the basement on the day of her death. Conley had threatened to kill Mann if he said anything, and the boy’s mother advised him to keep silent.

The testimony gave confirmation to those who thought Frank was innocent. However, those who found Frank guilty still believed the testimony provided insufficient evidence to change their views.

The trial had long- and far-reaching impact. It struck fear in Jewish southerners, causing them to monitor their behavior in the region closely for the next 50 years—until the civil rights movement led to more significant changes.

The Leo Frank caused ripples well beyond Atlanta, GA. The case ignited the rebirth of the KKK and solidified the founding of the Anti-Defamation League.

We present this exhibit with the same intent as The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, which developed it.

To revisit the case of Leo Frank and pose critical questions relating to individual and moral responsibility, respect for individual difference, the fragility of the democratic process, responsible citizenship, and the importance of community.

The exhibit presents the complicated and nuanced story of Mary Phagan’s murder, Leo Frank’s fate, and the historical, cultural, and political backdrop against which these events took place.

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