Upstander Connection

Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Archive for the category “Jewish Identity”

Holocaust scholar to present special lecture on the Łódź Ghetto of World War II Poland

Lodz Ghetto

Lodz Ghetto

University of Toronto Holocaust scholar Dr. Irena Kohn, an expert on Nazi-mandated Jewish ghettos of WW II, will present a special lecture on July 24 in conjunction with a new exhibit at Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.

Dr. Kohn’s focus will be the Łódź Ghetto of Poland, the subject of a new Museum exhibit, The Faces of the Ghetto: Their Lives are Our Lessons, which features documents and photographs illustrating the plight of Jewish inhabitants of the ghetto.

Her presentation will focus on songs, photographs and presentation albums created by inmates of the ghetto, including The Legend of the Prince—a lengthy children’s poem with allegorical underpinnings.

The exhibit can be viewed for an hour prior to the lecture, which begins at 6:30 p.m., and for thirty minutes afterward. Admission to the lecture is free for Museum members and $10 for non-Museum members. RSVPs requested at rsvp@DallasHolocaustMuseum.org

The Łódź Ghetto was quickly established by Nazi forces after the invasion of Poland in 1939, and eventually housed more than 160,000 Jews who were forced to live in unbearable conditions—overcrowded spaces and unsanitary housing and subjected to forced starvation.

The Łódź Ghetto’s Jewish Council hired two Jewish photographers, Mendel Grossman and Henryk Ross, to clandestinely take photos of Jews working inside the ghetto. The Jewish Council hoped the photos would prove to the Nazis that the work of Łódź’s Jewish inhabitants, and therefore their lives, were necessary to the war effort.

At great personal risk, Grossman and Ross bravely and faithfully documented Jewish life in the ghetto—far beyond their directive—by taking thousands of photographs, which they managed to hide just before being deported to death camps.

Faces of the Ghetto presents their work in oversize prints, bringing museum visitors face-to-face with the Jewish victims of Nazism and extreme intolerance and ensuring that the world will know of life in the ghetto as captured on film by sympathetic observers.

The images capture the nearly imperceptible sparks of individual hope smoldering in the eyes of suffering Jewish men, women, and children—as if to say where ever there is life, there is hope.

Dr. Kohn will also interpret some of the thought processes behind the Faces of the Ghetto, providing context and enhancing the audience’s experience of the exhibit, which is made possible by a generous donation of an anonymous donor and the presenting sponsor, Frost Bank.

Dr. Kohn wrote her doctoral dissertation at the University of Toronto (2008) on literary and artistic witness accounts of the Lodz Ghetto. Her work included analysis of the photos taken by Grossman and Ross.

 

 

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.

July Events Promise to Enlighten and Embolden Museum Visitors

Rita Blitt

Rita Blitt

July 1:  Rita Blitt’s Reaching Out from Within: Stories of Perseverance 

Rita Blitt is an international, award winning painter, sculptor and filmmaker.

“When I create, I feel like I’m dancing on paper.” says Blitt about her passion for art. She began painting as a child and has lived a life filled with creativity and achievements.

Today, her paintings, drawings and sculptures have been featured in exhibitions in Singapore, Israel, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Norway. She also has permanent exhibits in museums, galleries and public settings around the world.  She collaborated with other artists to create films including “Blur,” “Visual Rhythms” and “Caught in Paint,” which was shown at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.  Blitt also authored The Passionate Gesture and Reaching Out From Within.

Her work goes beyond the aesthetically pleasing to her efforts to make the world a better place. “Kindness is Contagious, Catch It!” is a poster Blitt created as a gift to the STOP Violence Coalition, but its world-wide popularity resulted in her presenting prints to every member nation of the United Nations. The Blitt family underwrites the Blitt Family Creative Arts Center at Synergy Services, a violence prevention and intervention center in Parkville, Mo.

Thirteen of Blitt’s colorful and dramatic pieces of sculpture and paintings, an exhibit entitled “Reaching Out from Within: Stories of Perseverance through Art,” will be on display at the Museum from July 1 through August 25, 2013.

July 11: Iraqi war translator Munir Captain

Join the Dallas Holocaust Museum on July 11 as Iraqi war translator Munir Captain shares his stories of despair, freedom and hope.

From 2003 to 2009, Munir Captain and his brother, Omar, served as translators to U.S. forces in their native Iraq.

New residents of North Texas, these brave men still have family in Baghdad, so their personal stories are not only current but relevant as family members in Iraq have faced reprisals for the brothers’ decisions to support American forces and their decision to live as refugees in the U.S.

The brothers bring interesting perspectives on the importance of the regime change in Iraq, the nature of the long insurgency there, the character of the American soldiers, the prospects for Iraq going forward and their own assimilation into American life.

Hear Murnir Captain speak at the Museum theater, 211 N. Record Street Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

Don’t Miss Summer 2013! Programs, Plays and Presentations All Part of Museum Lineup

Dr. Geoffrey Megargee

Dr. Geoffrey Megargee

June 6: USHMM Researcher to Detail Findings on Vastly Larger Number of Death Camps, Other Nazi Facilities During Holocaust

Thirteen years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the dismal task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.

Historians anticipated there would be 7,000 camps and ghettos, but what they found has shocked even scholars, proficient in the history of the Holocaust.

Dr. Geoffrey Megargee was at the heart of the research project that led to the shocking discovery of not 7,000, but 42,500 camps and ghettos across Europe.

This story captured world interest when released in the New York Times in March 2013.

Now you can hear Dr. Geoffrey Megargee tell the story “How the Holocaust Just Got A Lot More Shocking.”

Join the Dallas Holocaust Museum Thursday, June 6, at 6:30 p.m. in Dallas Hall at SMU McCord Auditorium, as Dr. Megargee shares the details of the research and the discoveries, and learn what impact this will have on Holocaust studies. There is no charge to attend the lecture, however, please RSVP at RSVP@DallasHolocaustMuseum.org .

Lev Aronson

Lev Aronson

June 11: “Concert in the Atrium” to Celebrate Life of the Late Lev Aronson

The Dallas Holocaust Museum presents “Concert in the Atrium” on Tuesday, June 11, at 1:30 p.m. in the atrium of the Museum, 211 N. Record Street.

The concert will feature cellists who are in Dallas for the The First Annual Lev Aronson Legacy Festival Week at SMU, among them festival creator and renowned cellist, Brian Thornton.

Lev Aronson, the world-renowned cellist and Holocaust survivor, was an incredible, blossoming solo cellist in his day. When he was interred in labor and concentration camps in World War II, and his prized Amati cello taken from him, he began to “think-sing” the concertos he knew from memory, establishing a sense of time and patience that gave him the strength to survive.

After the war, Aronson became the principal cellist in the Dallas symphony and he was renowned worldwide as a teacher of cello. “It is my turn to help keep his memory alive,” Thornton says of his beloved teacher.

Thornton is a member of the Cleveland Orchestra and creator of the Lev Aronson project, a CD showcasing beautiful melodies for cello and piano created by Lev Aronson.

The Timekeepers

The Timekeepers

June 12: Ground-breaking Play The Timekeepers Begins Limited Run

Dan Clancy’s award-winning play The Timekeepers is a Holocaust drama set at Sachsenhausen concentration camp in World War II Germany.

It tells the story of prisoners Benjamin, a conservative, elderly Jewish watchmaker put to work at his trade by the camp commander, and Hans, an outrageous young German homosexual who’s been assigned as Benjamin’s assistant. In spite of their dire circumstances and vast differences, the men form a strong bond over their shared love of opera and their wicked sense of humor.

The Timekeepers has played in London, Israel, Ireland, Canada, Poland, Germany and New York, and has generated glowing reviews.  Dealing with the Holocaust in a way that accentuates the private experience of a horrific tragedy affecting millions, it became the most performed Israeli piece of theater in the world.

The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, Theatre New West and theater director, Joe Watts, are collaborators for the production, which will be held June 12 through June 15 and June 21 and 22.   June 12 is a special  “pay-what-you-can” night.  Admission for the remaining performances is $20.  Tickets can be purchased through Event Brite at http://thetimekeepers.eventbrite.com

The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. and, for Friday and Saturday performances, at 8 p.m. The play will be performed in the Museum theater. The adult content of this production is not suitable for young children.

Rita Blitt

Rita Blitt

July 1: New Special Exhibit Opens Featuring “Stories of Perserverance”

Rita Blitt is an international, award winning painter, sculptor and filmmaker.

“When I create, I feel like I’m dancing on paper.” says Blitt about her passion for art. She began painting as a child and has lived a life filled with creativity and achievements.  Today her paintings, drawings and sculptures have been featured in exhibitions in Singapore, Israel, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and Norway. She also has permanent exhibits in museums, galleries and public settings around the world.  She collaborated with other artists to create films including “Blur,” “Visual Rhythms” and “Caught in Paint,” which was shown at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.  Blitt also authored The Passionate Gesture and Reaching Out From Within.

Her work goes beyond the aesthetically pleasing to her efforts to make the world a better place. “Kindness is Contagious, Catch It!” is a poster Blitt created as a gift to the STOP Violence Coalition, but its world-wide popularity resulted in her presenting prints to every member nation of the United Nations. The Blitt family underwrites the Blitt Family Creative Arts Center at Synergy Services, a violence prevention and intervention center in Parkville, Mo.

Thirteen of Blitt’s colorful and dramatic pieces of sculpture and paintings, an exhibit entitled “Reaching Out from Within: Stories of Perseverance through Art,” will be on display at the Museum from July 1 through August 25, 2013.

Come hear Iraqi War translator Munir Captain on July 11, 2013

Come hear Iraqi War translator Munir Captain on July 11, 2013

July 11: Iraqi War Translator to Share his Stories of Despair, Freedom and Hope

Join the Dallas Holocaust Museum on July 11 as Iraqi war translator Munir Captain shares his stories of despair, freedom, and hope.

From 2003 to 2009, Munir Captain and his brother, Omar, served as translators to U.S. forces in their native Iraq.

New residents of North Texas, these brave men still have family in Baghdad, so their personal stories are not only current but relevant as family members in Iraq have faced reprisals for the brothers’ decisions to support American forces and their decision to live as refugees in the U.S.

The brothers bring interesting perspectives on the importance of the regime change in Iraq, the nature of the long insurgency there, the character of the American soldiers, the prospects for Iraq going forward and their own assimilation into American life.

Hear Munir Captain speak at the Museum theater, 211 N. Record Street Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

 

--By Shelia Huffman, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

For those who heard Polyphony on May 5, a new appreciation of common ground through common sound

Award-winning musicians from Polyphony (l-r), Yamen Saadi, violinist; Ron Trachtman, pianist; Hagit Bar Sella, cello.

Award-winning musicians from Polyphony (l-r), Yamen Saadi, violinist; Ron Trachtman, pianist; Hagit Bar Sella, cellist.

Their goal: to bridge the divide in Israel between Arab and Jew.

Their means: the power of music.

On Sunday, May 5, the talented young musicians of the Polyphony Foundation—performing at the Episcopal School of Dallas at a concert benefitting the Dallas Holocaust Museum—proved just how powerful their sound can be.

A standing ovation at the concert’s conclusion for the five musicians from various backgrounds—one as young as age 10—symbolized not only the skill of the performers, but the majesty of the message: Even in one of the world’s most tension-filled regions, music can serve to bridge differences.

“When you share a common interest with someone, it’s remarkable how your differences become less important,” said Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, in her introductory remarks.

Polyphony began as the dream of a young music teacher in Nazareth, Israel, who happened to be Arab.

Nabeel Abboud Ashkar decided one day that he could make a difference in creating tolerance through education, and, with a colleague, opened a musical school for local young musicians all faith backgrounds—Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

“If we can reach out to young people and their parents, we can change young hearts and minds and influence others to follow suit,” Nabeel told the audience of more than 100 at Sunday’s performance. “Today, we have created a place of harmony where young people, both Arab and Jew, come together around classical music.”

David Margalit, a 10-year-old boy, on violin, and Nasif Francis, a 12-year-old boy, on piano, began the program by performing Mozart’s Piano sonata in E minor.

Ron Trachtman, a professional concert pianist in Israel and abroad, later in the program played a stunning Chopin Scherzo no. 2 op. 31.

But it was the truly remarkable young violinist, Yamen Saadi, 16, who seemed to steal the show with his playing of Saint-Saen’s Introduction & Rondo Capriccioso. In March of 2012, Saadi won first prize at the prestigious Paul Ben Haim Competition in Tel Aviv.

Through the common language of music, the students and teachers of Polyphony teach all of us to look beyond out differences to see the culture, connection and humanity we all share.

Special thanks to Episcopal School of Dallas for the use of the Bray Theater on May 5 and to Betty Jo and David Bell for coordinating Polyphony’s visit to Dallas. Also, thanks to generous sponsors Fulbright & Jaworski LLP and Alison and Michael Weinstein.

The Young Leadership Committee of the Dallas Holocaust Museum served as the Event Host Committee, chaired by Richard Krumholz and includes members Michelle Mantel Bassichis, MD, Jason Downie, Robert Hoodis, Stephanie London, Erin Patton and Alison Weinstein.

On May 16, the Dallas Holocaust Museum will present an unforgettable program: “Witness for Rwanda, An Evening with Carl Wilkens.” In 1994, Carl Wilkens was the only American who chose to remain in the country after the genocide began. Come hear the full story at 6:30 p.m. on May 16.

Polyphony Co-Founder Nabeel Abbhoud Ashkar assists Nasif Francis, 10, on the violin as pianist Ron Trachtman assists David Margalit, 12, on the piano.

Polyphony Co-Founder Nabeel Abbhoud Ashkar assists Nasif Francis, 10, on the violin as pianist Ron Trachtman assists David Margalit, 12, on the piano.

By Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance; Photos by Paula Nourse

Jews Who Fought for Hitler Stir Emotion, Controversy and a Journey of Self-Discovery for Dallas Author Who Wrote Book About Them

At age 19, while in Germany on a college research trip to study German and sift
through records from World War II, Bryan Mark Rigg—a devout Baptist while
growing up in Fort Worth—made two startling discoveries.

Both revelations would change his life.

The first surprise: the surprisingly large number of Jews who fought for Hitler’ Nazis
during World War II.

The second: That Rigg himself was born to a Jewish mother, which made him a Jew
by birth.

“Welcome to the tribe,” an Ultra Orthodox Jew told him, recalled Rigg, who spoke to
about 75 people at a special Dallas Holocaust Museum lecture on April 25 about his
book, Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers (University Press of Kansas, 2002).

His work has been featured in The New York Times and on programs including NBC
Dateline and Fox News.

The book, which tells of the surprisingly large number of Jews who served in
the Nazi army, had its genesis in Rigg’s visit to a Berlin movie theater during
the summer between his freshman and sophomore year while a student at Yale
University.

Rigg went to a showing of the film Europa, Europa, which is based on the true story
of Schlomo Perel, a Jewish man who served in the Nazi army and attended a Hitler
Youth school.

At the theater, Rigg made the acquaintance of an elderly man named Peter Millies,
who offered to translate the dialogue in the film. After the showing, Millies told Rigg
that he himself was a “Mischling” (a person of mixed, partially Jewish ancestry) who
had served in the Wehrmacht, the German army.

Intrigued by this story, Rigg decided to try to find other Jews who, like Millies and
Perel, had fought on the side of the Nazis.

Returning to Yale for his sophomore year, he suggested the idea to his professors,
who discouraged him from pursuing what they considered dead-end research. “That
only propelled me more to pursue it,” Rigg said.

Rigg estimates that there were 60,000 half-Jews in the Nazi army and 90,000
quarter-Jews.

After graduating from Yale in 1996, Rigg went to Cambridge University on a Henry
Fellowship and continued his research. He received his M.A. in 1997 and a Ph.D. in
2002.

The thousands of documents and video-taped testimonies he amassed in the course
of his study have been collected as the Bryan Mark Rigg Collection in archives
housed in Freiburg, Germany.

Almost as remarkable as his historical findings, said Rigg, was a personal discovery
he made while going through old town archives: His own ancestors were Jewish.

He returned to his family in Texas, where he had grown up as a devout Baptist, with
the startling revelation. He now identifies himself as Jewish and has served as a
volunteer in the Israeli army.

“Identity became a key question for me,” said Rigg. “Who am I? Ultimately, the way
we identify ourselves determines how we view others. Therein lies the wisdom.”

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

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