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100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

Armenian FlowerThe Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance will join with members of the local Armenian community on April 30 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide with a viewing of the PBS documentary, The Armenian Genocide.

It is an act the Museum undertakes with care but also certainty. The tragic murder of 1.5 million Armenians was the first genocide of the 20th century. The event is known to the Armenian people in their language as Meds Yeghern, or “great calamity,” just as the Hebrew word Shoah, meaning “calamity or destruction,” is used by Jews to name the Holocaust.

As the public center for Holocaust education in North Central Texas, the Museum has been contacted many times by genocide deniers both of the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide. We have heard their voices and opinions. We answer simply that they are wrong and will continue with our mission of teaching the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference.

As Peter Balakian, Armenian American author and academic, wrote:

It is important to understand the immorality and the harmful consequences of denying genocide. As prominent scholars of genocide such as Israel Charney, Robert J. Lifton, Deborah Lipstadt, Eric Markusen and Roger Smith have noted: the denial of genocide is the final stage of genocide; it seeks to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators; and denying genocide paves the way the way for future genocides by making it clear that genocide demands no moral accountability or response.

For more information about the Armenian genocide, please visit the website of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies.

Join us on April 30 for a viewing of The Armenian Genocide. The reception starts at 5: 30 p.m. and the film begins at 6:45 p.m. The event is free but please RSVP in advance to rsvp@DallasHolocaustMuseum.org.

Anti-Semitism Rose in 2014 in U.S. but Is Still Decreasing Over Time

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The Anti-Defamation League’s recent report on the 21 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S. in 2014 may seem alarming at first.

After all, the shootings at a Jewish Community Center by an antisemitic gunman in Kansas a year ago are still fresh in our minds, as are the recent attacks in Paris and Copenhagen.

But the increase in U.S. incidents follows nearly a decade in overall declines, according to the ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, and the total number of anti-Semitic acts in 2014 still represents one of the lowest totals of anti-Semitic acts reported by the ADL since it started keeping records in 1979.

“Anti-Semtism, of course, continues to be a problem in this country, but we as a nation do not accept these acts of hate in our communities,” said Jason Turetsky, assistant director of the Research Center at the ADL in New York. “It is safer to be a Jew today in the U.S. than in any other period in our history.”

The report counted 912 antisemitic incidents across the U.S. in 2014, up from 751 incidents in 2013.

Experts have said that much of the increase is due to the Israel and Hamas conflict last July, which stirred up anti-Israel sentiment in the U.S. Although the ADL’s report does not include anti-Israel criticism in the count, incidents are tallied when they contain anti-Jewish messages such as Nazi imagery or analogies.

Texas had 17 incidents, far fewer than New York’s 231 and California’s 184. Mr. Turetsky said that more incidents are reported in states with larger Jewish populations, and the anti-Semitic incidents in Texas are similar to those happening across the country.

audit-2014-inforgraphics2Mr. Turetsky added that people’s willingness to report incidents perpetrated against themselves or others is another positive sign that anti-Semitism is not accepted in our country.

“In the big picture, there has never been a time when anti-Semitism was less tolerated,” Mr. Turetsky said. “It doesn’t mean that we can ignore it as a thing of the past, but people know there are places they can turn if it happens.”

The report also noted an increase in number of online attacks by foreign hackers targeting the websites of synagogues and other Jewish organizations. Such attacks included a New York Jewish high school’s website that was hacked to display threatening anti-Israel messaging and university websites in California, Oregon, Utah, Missouri and Massachusetts that were redirected to pages featuring the statement, “Death to All Jews…Viva Hamas, Qassam” or other recordings and statements.

For more information on the study, visit the ADL’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

For Michael Sam and America, History That Moves All of Us Forward

Michael Sam

Michael Sam

The yellow double triangle, with an appearance like that of the Star of David, and the pink triangle—Rosa Winkel in German—were part of the complex color-coded Nazi concentration camp badges. The yellow was used to identify Jews; the pink was used to identify male prisoners who were sent there because they were homosexuals.

Between 1933 and 1945, about 100,000 German men were arrested as “criminal” homosexuals and about 50,000 were convicted and sent to prison. After 1942, an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 German homosexuals were sent to concentration camps where an unknown number of them died.

Indeed, the hatred practiced by the Nazi regime—responsible for the systematic murder of six million Jews and five million others during the Holocaust—was the first thought of Michael Sam, who made history in 2014 as the first openly gay man drafted into the NFL.

Sam, who is currently appearing on ABC-TV’s Dancing With The Stars while he awaits what he hopes will be another chance to play in the NFL, spoke to a sold-out crowd of 200 at a special Museum’s Upstander Speaker Series event held at the Communities Foundation of Texas auditorium on March 26.

“The Holocaust is probably the most absolute worst crime against humanity,” began Sam, 25. “This event is nothing we should ever forget, and the work that you all do here is absolutely critical. We must remain diligent to make sure nothing like it ever happens again. Against the backdrop of your work, I’m not sure there’s anything else I can say that compares.”

Introduced by WFAA-TV Sports Director and Anchor Dale Hansen—whose “Hansen Unplugged” commentary on the prejudice Sam faced when Sam came out as a gay man generated international news coverage and a high-profile appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last year—Sam continued:

“Ever since I came out about a year ago, people have called me a hero and courageous. For the record, I do not consider myself either. I was just simply owning my truth. My name is Michael Sam and I’m a person of passion and intensity. I am a football player, a friend, a son, a fiancée, and I am a gay man.”

“The courageous heroes are the many people, especially the youth of today, who are being bullied or harmed, both physically and psychologically, everyday because of their race, religion, or sexuality. They have the courage to go out every single day and face all that they must and pursue their dreams no matter what the obstacles.”

But, Sam said, he can relate to these youth. Growing up the seventh of eight children in Hitchcock, Texas, along the Gulf Coast, Sam faced a tough childhood filled with adversity and suffering.

“I had brothers who bullied me, and I had a family who wasn’t always there for me,” Sam said. “Football gave me everything I have today. It gave me the structure I needed in my life, it gave me my teenage years, it gave me the chance to show off my athletic ability, and most importantly it gave me the opportunity to attend the University of Missouri. My friends and teammates became my family, and football became my sanctuary.”

But he wasn’t just any football player. He was a standout player for the Mizzou Tigers. At the end of his senior season, Sam was named the Southeastern Conference co-Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the All-SEC First Team. He was also named a semifinalist for three other major college football awards.

Early projections had Sam going in the third or fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft. Then Sam came out as a gay man—something his accepting Mizzou teammates already knew and hadn’t cared about. They knew him as an exceptional performer and teammate.

But when draft-day came, it seemed as if the NFL wasn’t as accepting of Sam’s talent. He was the 249th player taken out of 256 drafted. When ESPN TV cameras captured his emotional response to being drafted by the St. Louis Rams—a lifelong dream that he celebrated by kissing his boyfriend (and now fiancée), Vito Cammisano—it didn’t go over so well with some past and current NFL players who took to social media to spew prejudice and discrimination.

Sam made his professional football debut in a preseason game on Aug. 8 against the New Orleans Saints. In four NFL preseason games with the Rams, Sams made 11 tackles and three sacks, including a game-leading six tackles in the final game. Yet, on Aug. 30, the Rams cut Sam. Within days, the Dallas Cowboys had added Sam to their practice squad. On Oct. 21, he was cut again. He is hopeful that he will play in the NFL one day soon

Sam said, “I am proud to be able to play a small part in the NFL and LGBT history by being the first openly gay man to enter into the league. But it is not what I set out to do, and I’m not done yet. I truly believe we are making the world a better place and more tolerant place. I have been welcomed into locker rooms, meeting rooms, and living rooms.”

Sam has received the ESPY’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award and the Human Rights Campaign’s Upstander Award, and he has been named a finalist for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.

Meantime, Sam said, his focus will remain on helping youth of today accept themselves for who they are and on teaching the moral and ethical response to hatred, prejudice and indifference for the benefit of all humanity—the mission of the Museum.

“Hatred and violence against LGBT Americans is wrong, just as hatred and violence against black Americans is wrong, just as hatred and violence against Jewish Americans is wrong,” Sam said.

“The moment we let hatred and violence go unchecked in our society, we become weaker as a people. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to push back, to stop prejudice, when we see it.”

“I am proud to stand in this room with so many people committed to this cause to do just that. Despite all the incredible strides we have made in the last century or so, recent events have proven to us that more work needs to be done. I issue all of us a clear and direct challenge: let’s answer hate with love, let’s answer darkness with light, let’s answer intolerance with understanding.”

In his introduction of Sam, Dale Hansen cited a famous quote by the late U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, who once said, “We know the future will outlast all of us, but I believe that all of us will live on in the future we make.”

Said Hansen: “Michael Sam is making it a better future for our kids. We need more Michael Sams in America.”

Please make plans to join the Museum on June 4 for the next guest of the Upstander Speaker Series, Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland, who is playing a key role in the “Jewish Renaissance” of Poland.

And, be sure to visit the current special exhibit at the Museum (through June 20), “The Wartime Escape,” which recounts the WW II escape of Margret and H.A. Rey, creators of the Curious George series.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come Hear a Liberator and Survivor

Rosa Blum and a liberator will speak at an event at SMU commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps.

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of most of the Nazi death camps, and it is with sadness that we must note that most of the brave soldiers who freed the remaining camp prisoners are no longer with us.

Our debt to these men will never be repaid. Not only did they save the lives of Nazi victims, but they also brought the stories of the atrocities they saw back to their homelands so that everyone could learn from the tragic ramifications of hate.

It is a rare opportunity today to hear a liberator’s story in person, which is why you shouldn’t miss Southern Methodist University’s upcoming event that commemorates the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps. Bernhard Storch, who was imprisoned in a Soviet labor camp before becoming a death camp liberator in the Polish army, and Auschwitz survivor Rosa Blum will speak 6 p.m. at SMU’s Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall.

Visit the Museum’s events calendar to learn more.

And read more about WWII liberators and the Holocaust survivors they helped at the sites below:

USC Shoah Foundations’ Witnesses for Change: Stories of Liberation

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Focus on Liberation

The Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive

Dallas Holocaust Museum’s survivor speakers

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Upstander Michael Sam

Why Michael Sam?

It is a question that has been trending on our social media channels since the first openly gay man drafted in the NFL was named as our next Upstander Speaker Series lecturer. Sam will speak Thursday, March 26.

He is not Jewish, after all. He doesn’t appear to have any relationship to the Holocaust or other genocides. He’s not a World War II scholar.

So why him?

The answer is found simply in our mission statement – to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, and to teach the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference.

The Holocaust was one of the most blatant acts of hatred and evil our world has ever seen, but, unfortunately, acts of evil both large and small are perpetrated every day.  The Dallas Holocaust Museum has pledged to work against those hateful acts no matter where they are found.

Our mission is why we initiated the Upstander Speaker Series in 2014. The series brings leading human rights advocates and academics to North Texas to share their knowledge and research on a spectrum of issues, including modern-day genocide, ethics, prejudice and law.

Preventing a person from playing football because of his sexuality is an act of discrimination. At its root, it is no different from forcing a Jew into a boxcar to be murdered or preventing a man from using a public water fountain based on his skin color. It is wrong, and at the Museum, we teach people how to stand up against these wrongs.

We honor and appreciate Michael Sam because he stood up, even though doing so might have harmed his career as a professional football player. Although other players have come out as gay after retiring from the game, Sam is the only one who has had the courage to tell his story while still on the field.

Please show your support of Sam, the Museum and all others who fight against hate by attending the lecture at 6:30 p.m. on March 26 at the Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane in Dallas.

For ticket information, please visit DallasHolocaustMuseum.org.

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Dale Hansen to Speak at Upcoming Upstander Speaker Series

Dale Hansen will introduce Michael Sam at the Upstander Speaker Series event on March 26, 2015. (Photo: WFAA)

Sports anchor Dale Hansen’s agreement to introduce Michael Sam at our upcoming speaker event will give the audience a twofer they’ve probably never been offered before.

They’ll get to learn from two outstanding Upstanders – people who stand against hate and stand up for themselves and others — at one intimate event.

Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player drafted to the NFL, is the headliner of our March 26th Upstander Speaker Series event, but Hansen of WFAA-TV, Channel 8, has been making national headlines himself recently.

After Sam publicly came out as gay as an NFL draft candidate, Hansen took to the airwaves. The sportscaster delivered a two minute-plus commentary defending Sam and criticizing the hypocrisy of a sport that may turn a blind-eye to athletes’ criminal activities but acts scandalized if a player loves a member of his own sex. Hanson’s segment went viral on YouTube, and he was invited onto The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Media critics have argued that while Hansen’s message is not new, the messenger is. Some in mainstream America see Sam supporters as “others” – people not like themselves. Hansen, on the other hand, is a burly, sports-loving, heterosexual white guy – like many people’s uncles or neighbors —  and his opinion carries weight.

Hansen has even talked about overcoming his own prejudices formed during his middle America upbringing in the ‘50s and ‘60s. During one of his “Unplugged” segments on air, which focused on racist signs recently waved by Flower Mound High School students during a basketball game, Hansen discussed his father’s frequent use of racial slurs and that it took him a long time to see beyond the prejudices he learned as a child.

“Kids have to be taught to hate, and it’s our parents and grandparents and our teachers and coaches too who teach us to hate,” Hansen said during the segment. “Kids become the product of that environment. I was and they are.”

Hansen stands as an example to us all — a true Upstander who shows us that not only can we change ourselves, but we can also change the future by teaching our kids about acceptance and humanity.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear both Sam and Hansen speak as part of the Museum’s Upstander Speaker Series. The event takes place March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane, Dallas.

Visit DallasHolocaustMuseum.org for ticket information.

Hear Upstander Michael Sam Speak March 26

Missouri vs Arkansas State - September 28, 2013 (Photo by Ben Walton)Whether you follow people who tear across the football field or tear up the dance floor, no doubt Michael Sam has been on your social media feed lately. Now you have a chance to hear what the multi-talented football player is up to in person.

Sam, the first openly gay man to be drafted into the NFL, will speak on March 26 as part of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance’s 2015 Upstander Speaker Series. The series brings leading human rights advocates and academics to Dallas to share their knowledge and research on a spectrum of issues, including modern-day genocide, ethics, prejudice and law.

Sam set the Internet spinning when he announced recently that he’ll be a contestant on Season 20 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. He’s stressed, though, that he’ll continue training so he can show off his moves on the football field if a team comes calling for the 2015 NFL season.

Sam has a lot going on, but he’ll stand still long enough on March 26 to speak to the North Texas community about his past whirlwind year and his decision to come out despite repercussions it may have on his career in the uber-macho world of professional sports.

Sam’s a natural for the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s second Upstander Speaker Series, which raises fundamental questions about humanity, justice and personal responsibility. It challenges audiences to consider these issues and stand up against injustice rather than stand by.

Upstander Speakers Series (2)Sam grew up in Hitchcock, Tex. along the Gulf Coast. He is the seventh of eight children. Three of his siblings have died and two brothers are in prison. He is the first of his family to graduate from college.

Sam, now 25, was selected by the St. Louis Rams in last year’s draft but was released before the start of the season. He was signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad but did not make it to the game-day roster.

The nation has followed Sam’s progress in the NFL closely.

“The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation’s journey,” President Barack Obama said in a White House statement. “From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are.”

Sam has been accepted to the first NFL veteran combine, a project aimed at giving a second chance to players who are free agents. That combine is set for March 22.

The Upstander Speaker Series with Michael Sam and introduction by WFAA-TV sports anchor Dale Hansen will take place March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane in Dallas. For more information and tickets, visit DallasHolocaustMuseum.org.

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Thank You to Scholar and Philanthropist Lilian Furst

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Image of Lilian Furst provided by USC Shoah Foundation

Lilian Furst often said she felt she had no real home. The brilliant scholar, professor and author even titled one her books Home Is Somewhere Else.

But in Dallas she found, if not a home, a rare place of contentment for a while. A Holocaust refugee from Vienna, she lived here with her father from 1975 until his death a decade later.

“It [Dallas] was an alien culture, but it was a good time and her father became happy there,” Dr. Madeline G. Levine, a close friend, said.

Her father’s happiness might explain the astonishing gift she left the Dallas Holocaust Museum in her will.

$1 million.

Museum officials will combine her gift with other donations to build a new and larger Holocaust museum in the West End. Levine said she believed Furst would approve.

“I think it would make her happy to contribute to the new museum and to make sure her father is remembered,” she said.

Furst was born in Vienna in 1931. Her parents were both medical doctors trained as dental surgeons, and she described an enchanted, fairy-tale childhood until the Nazis invaded Austria in 1938.

The family illegally fled to Belgium to hide but were later given admittance to Britain because the country was in need of dentists. She and her parents stayed in England for years, and Furst earned her Ph.D. from Girton College, Cambridge University.

After her mother’s death in 1969, Furst and her father, Desider Furst, left for the United States, traveling the country for her positions and named professorships at Dartmouth, Stanford, Harvard, the University of Texas at Dallas and more. Her curriculum vitae says she was a UTD faculty member from 1975 to 1986.

It was in Dallas that Desider Furst penned his memoirs, but Lilian could not bring herself to read them while he was alive.

“My ulterior motive for not reading his autobiography was my fear of disappointment and of hurting him by somehow betraying that response,” she wrote. “Though an avid reader throughout his life and with a large vocabulary in English, his third language (Hungarian and German were his first and second), he had no experience in writing.”

She found that she was mistaken, however, after she finally read his work after his death. His memoirs were wonderful, and she decided to combine his story with her own to create an “autobiography in two voices.” Home Is Somewhere Else, one of the 23 books and countless articles and reviews she wrote in her lifetime, was published in 1994.

Lilian Furst, 1978/11

Lilian Furst at Case Western Reserve University, 1978. Image 02294 property of Case Western Reserve University Archives.

“She was extraordinarily attached to her father. She was very bereft when he died. She felt alone. She and her father had been a unit, especially after her mother died,” Levine said.

Furst called herself the “Anne Frank who lived,” and while she considered herself one of the “lucky” ones, she carried a burden throughout her life.

“I assign the Diary of Anne Frank in a course on adolescence in twentieth-century literature, and it tears me apart each time I read it. I feel that so easily, but for the grace of God, there go I,” Furst said during a National Humanities Center’s radio show interview once. “I don’t want to sound moralistic, but I think because I did survive, I am obligated to try to make something of my life, to do something for other people, to contribute something to this world.”

Furst died in her home with friends in Chapel Hill, N.C. on September 11, 2009. Her legacy – both by her pen and her actions – will live on forever.

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

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The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising exhibit at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

When you enter the main gallery of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, you’ll see that the exhibit space is divided into three areas, each describing a different event that happened during the Holocaust on April 19, 2014.

One of the events described is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, more than 400,000 Jews from Warsaw and surrounding areas were confined to an approximately one-mile square area of the city. The ghetto was sealed closed with barbed wire and a 10-ft wall, and the Nazis imposed the death penalty on any Jews found outside its gates.

Meager food allotments by the Nazis in the ghetto – only 1,125 calories a day per person – lead to widespread starvation. Approximately 83,000 Jews died of hunger or disease between 1940 and mid-1942. Jewish organizations within the ghetto set up welfare organizations to help inhabitants, preventing even more deaths.

The Nazis began a “resettlement” program in the summer of 1942 and had deported 300,000 Jews from the ghetto by that September. It did not take long for word to spread among the remaining Jews in the ghetto that their friends, family and neighbors had not been resettled. Most had been murdered at the Treblinka Death Camp.

The last inhabitants of the ghetto decided they had to resist all future deportations. During one round up in January of 1943, rebels fought the Nazis and badly wounded a German soldier. The Nazis temporarily halted the deportations.

With a new SS police leadership in place, the Nazis returned on April 19, 1943 with the intention of liquidating the ghetto. They were met by approximately 750 Jewish resistance fighters armed with small weaponry, including Molotov cocktails and other improvised arms. The resistance fought for a month against the well-armed Germans before the operation concluded. Approximately 42,000 Warsaw ghetto survivors were sent to forced-labor camps at Poniatowa and Trawniki and to the Lublin/Majdanek concentration camp. Another 7,000 died during the uprising and 7,000 more were put to death at Treblinka.

To learn more about the story and hear about Dallas-area Warsaw ghetto survivors, please visit the Museum.

Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

— Katie Menzer, staff writer for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

How Curious George Escaped the Nazis

showposterChildren’s author Louise Borden was, well, curious.

In 1995, while reading Publisher’s Weekly, the trade magazine of the book industry, Ms. Borden ran across an item about Margret Rey, the writer and illustrator known best for the Curious George series of children’s picture books that she and her husband, H.A. Rey, created from 1939 to 1966.

The short item noted how the Reys had escaped Paris in 1940, just ahead of the Nazi invasion of France, on bicycles and carrying a backpack with the manuscript of what would become the impetus for the first Curious George book.

The notice stirred the curiosity of Ms. Borden.

Had the Reys’ escape from wartime France ever been written about before? What route had the Reys followed to make their getaway? How did the Reys eventually end up publishing their series of books with one of the leading publishers in the U.S.?

So begins the story of author Louise Borden’s journey that concluded with the 2005 publication of The Journey That Saved Curious George: The True Wartime Escape of Margret and H.A. Rey (now available in paperback from HMH Books for Young Readers), which chronicles the real-life escape of the Reys.

The book is the basis of the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s current special exhibit, “The Wartime Escape Margret & H.A. Rey’s Journey from France,” now through June 20th. Admission to the special exhibit is free with regular paid admission to the Museum.*

Ms. Borden was the special guest speaker on Feb. 12 at the opening reception for the new exhibit.

“I love the world of children’s books, and I loved telling this story,” Ms. Borden told a crowd of about 85 people who attended her presentation in the Museum Theater.

Curious George first appeared in 1941, published by Houghton Mifflin. The book begins with George living in Africa and tells the story of his capture by the Man with the Yellow Hat, who takes him on a ship to “the big city” where he will live in the zoo. Six other “original series” titles followed, and today, the books, which include more modern story lines, have sold more than 30 million copies in multiple languages.

The Reys were German-born Jews who most assuredly would have been captured by Nazis and deported to concentration or death camps.

In her presentation, Ms. Borden traced the Reys escape from Paris, through Spain, to Portugal, to Argentina and eventually to New York City, where the Reys lived in Greenwich Village to be close to their publisher and, later, following huge success with the Curious George book line, in Cambridge, MA near Harvard Square and at a charming New Hampshire farm.

Most of the research for the book on the couple’s wartime escape took place at the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. When Margret Rey died in 1996 (Hans had died in 1977), her will designated that the entire literary estate of the Reys be donated to the de Grummond Collection. In 1966, Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, a professor in the field of library science at USM, had contacted Mrs. Rey about the university’s new children’s literature collection and, well, the rest is history.

Many fascinating angles emerged from her research, Ms. Borden said, including the fact that Curious George had first been named “Fifi. In 1939, the Reys had signed a contract with the French publisher Gallimard for “Fifi” and other stories. As it turned out, the cash advance the couple had received would later finance their escape to South America.

In October 1940, the Reys sailed to New York, settling first on Long Island with relatives before moving to Manhattan. A year later, the book about “Fifi,” who had been renamed “George”—the publishers thought it a more appropriate name for a male monkey—first appeared.

“George was a name that would become memorable for generations to come,” Ms. Borden said. And so it remains.

Several activities for families are planned in conjunction with the special exhibit, among them:

-Get Curious at the Dallas Zoo, Feb. 22, 2015, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

-Spring Break with Curious George at the Museum, March 9-13, 11 a.m.

-Get Curious at Klyde Warren Park, Sunday, May 3, 2 p.m.

-Art Competition for Student Groups: Reception & Judging, May 10, 10 a.m.

A special Teacher’s Workshop is also planned for March 12. More information on the workshop may be found on the Museum website.

The Benefactor Sponsor for the event is Fox Rothschild LLP. The Friend Sponsor is the Janis Levine Music Women and Children’s Endowment Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Federation. Community Partners include the Dallas Zoo, Klyde Warren Park and the Dallas Theater Center.

This project is supported in part by an award from Mid-America Arts Alliance, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.

 *Please note that the Museum’s core exhibit is recommended for children age 11 and older.

–Chris Kelley for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

 

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