Upstander Connection

Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Archive for the category “heroes”

Hope for Humanity Dinner Set for October 30

Father Patrick Desbois

Father Patrick Desbois

Father Patrick Desbois, President of the Yahad-In Unum Association, will receive the Museum’s 2013 Hope for Humanity Award. Local Holocaust Survivors will also be recognized.

Fr. Desbois, who has devoted his life to confronting anti-Semitism and furthering Catholic-Jewish understanding, will be honored at the Museum’s Hope for Humanity Dinner on October 30 at the Dallas Fairmont Hotel, 1717 North Akard Street. The Hope for Humanity reception starts at 6 p.m. Dinner begins at 7 p.m.

Fr. Desbois has dedicated his life to preserving the memory of Ukraine’s former Jewish community and to advance understanding of the crimes committed during the Holocaust. To date, his organization has identified 800 of the estimated 2,000 sites of mass burial.

Tickets will be $350 (limited availability). Table prices begin at $3,500. For further information, please contact Development Director Maria MacMullin at 214-741-7500.

A Play for the Ages: The Timekeepers Demonstrates What it Means to be Human

Actors Karl Lewis (Benjamin) and Jeremy W. Smith (Hans) bring an often forgotten story of the Holocaust to the stage.

Actors Karl Lewis (Benjamin) and Jeremy W. Smith (Hans) bring an often forgotten story of the Holocaust to the stage.

What divides us as human beings should not be stronger than what unites us. Yet, history is filled with examples where differences, especially in matters of truth and justice, have produced tragic results.

Conflict over what we share in common—and who we are as individuals—well, this is the stuff of compelling stage drama. Make the setting a World War II concentration camp during the Holocaust, at a Holocaust Museum, and the drama is groundbreaking.

Such is the case with The Timekeepers, a limited-run play now at the Dallas Holocaust Museum Theater on select nights through June 22. The subject matter is strictly for adults. Tickets are available online.

Directed by veteran Texas artistic director Joe Watts, The Timekeepers tells the story of a young-ish German homosexual and a conservative elderly Jewish man who are forced to work together in a camp, repairing watches for the Nazis.

At first, inmate #70649, a character named Benjamin played by veteran Dallas actor Karl Lewis, who wears a yellow star on his camp uniform, won’t even speak to his new colleague. Hans, inmate #2202, whose pink upside down triangle brands his character, played by actor Jeremy W. Smith, a SAG member with television credits, takes the rejection in stride, as though accustomed to it.

Fomenting—and sometimes mediating—the relationship is Capo, a petty thief and camp inmate who oversees the watch repair shop, played by actor Eric Hanson, who makes his debut theatrical performance in the production.

Benjamin was a highly regarded watchmaker in Berlin prior to his deportation. He is expert at repairing watches that Nazi guards confiscated from new camp arrivals. Hans lied about his mechanical abilities—he knows nothing about repairing watches—to avoid certain death as a failed laborer in a camp cement plant.

As is often the case in life where obvious differences overshadow commonalities upon initial meetings, time and humor eventually washes away prejudice and indifference and the two men discover each has a passion for a shared interest: opera.

The two men become friends and even rehearse scenes from an opera that they will perform at a show for the Finnish branch of the Red Cross who will be visiting the camp in a few days.

However, when the show is suddenly cancelled, their common passion for opera instantly disappears and pride and prejudice overtakes each again and erupts in a raw, disturbing, enlightening and all too familiar scene from daily life even today.

To say more about the play by Dan Clancey would spoil an incredibly impactful production by Theatre New West.

In introducing the play, truly a first-of-its-kind production for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins noted how the Museum is committed to telling the stories of all Holocaust victims.

“Homosexuals are among the Holocaust’s forgotten victims,” she noted. “The Timekeepers, while fiction, is based on a larger story and it allows us to bring the ‘forgotten’ into the light.”

The play continues Fridays and Saturdays, June 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. Talk back sessions with the director and cast will occur after Friday night performances.

By Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

In The Presence of Heroes

Last Wednesday, the Museum and the Daughters of WWII hosted an event for Victory in Europe Day. The original V-E Day, May 8, 1945, marked the end of WWII in Europe, as the Nazi regime officially surrendered. Fittingly, our program focused on the WWII veterans who assisted in liberating concentration camps and the Holocaust Survivors who were freed as a result of Allied victory.

We began the event with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and an inspirational rendition of the National Anthem. To hear these American soldiers who were part of such an important event in our history singing alongside Holocaust Survivors from across Europe who are now proud to live in America was moving. Being able to sing with them was truly an honor for those of us in the audience who were there to hear their stories and honor their legacies.

As the event progressed, we heard from several men who each played a different role in liberating the camps. Some were medical personell, others spotted the camps and reported their location to their commanding officers, a few shared their stories of being among the first to see the prisoners, to notice the dead, to experience the horrors of these places the Nazis abandoned and later, denied.

No matter the role they played, each of the liberators had a unique story to tell. It was fascinating, yet chilling, to hear about the first impressions of these men. Many of them described the horrible smell that made them want to run away as soon as they neared the camps. They described living skeletons, zombie-like men and women, and the bones of the dead, laying out in the open for all to see.

These heartbreaking stories were matched with tales from Holocaust Survivors, focusing not on their time in the camps, but instead on how the sight of the American soldiers was at first a little frightening, but soon, filled them with hope. The Survivors all thanked the veterans for what they did as they shared their memories. They told the audience that they were grateful for these men and others like them, without whom they never would  have survived. Angels, heroes, saviors. As the accolades were heaped upon the soldiers, one man summed up what many of them were feeling when he said, “I don’t know why I’m up here; I’m not a hero.”

More than once, the audience was in tears, or gasped collectively at the true stories of what it was like in the camps. We all felt shock at the cruelty humanity is capable of, as the soldiers did many years ago, seeing it in person. That feeling of shock is one reason events like these are so important. The raw, fresh feelings at the injustice of it all, the pure evil enacted on one man by another, the resolve these feelings bring to never stand by and let this happen again.

Liberators and Survivors together

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