Join us at the Museum this Friday for the kickoff of Big D Reads – a read-in event from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at which community leaders will read selected passages from this year’s featured title, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.
A community service project throughout the month of April, Big D Reads seeks to engage the Dallas community in a city-wide reading experience as well as special events such as educational discussions and read-ins that tie into Anne Frank’s inspirational story.
Friday’s Read-In event takes place at the Museum in the “Anne Frank: A History for Today” exhibit area.
In order to engage readers of all ages in Big D Reads, companion books have also been selected, among them Dr. Suess’ Sneetches; Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars, and Eric Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts. These works are all available for checkout at the Dallas Public Library.
The Dallas Public Library and the Friends of the Dallas Public Library are organizing this year’s Big D Reads event in partnership with the Dallas Independent School District and the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.
Human rights is the reason America was created, say Betsy Healy and Bill Holston of the Human Rights Initiative (HRI) of North Texas.
The right to asylum—under which another sovereign authority, such as the United States, may protect a person persecuted by their country—is one of the most important and urgent of rights. The right belongs to all people under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by world governments in 1948 in response to the Holocaust.
“International human rights is an obligation we have as Americans,’’ said Healy, an attorney who co-founded HRI in 1999 and served as its first Executive Director. HRI provides legal and support services to legal immigrants and those already in the U.S., seeking refugee status. Many of HRI’s clients have fled religious, racial, or political persecution. In addition, HRI offers assistance to victims of human trafficking, domestic abuse and neglect through their Women and Children’s Program.
Healy and Holston, also an attorney, were featured speakers at the Museum’s 2016 inaugural Upstander Speaker Series event on March 10 at the Communities Foundation of Texas, “Human Rights Initiative of North Texas: A Conversation.”
Joining them on the panel were Kavita Khandekar Chopra, Marketing & Development Director for HRI, and Kane Cortez, an HRI volunteer. Dr. Sara Abosch, Senior Director of Education at the Museum, moderated the panel.
Gaining asylum status for an immigrant is painstaking, arduous and time-consuming legal work, says Holston. Asylum-seekers must not only undergo extensive interviews to prove their claims of human right abuses under very specific criteria to a U.S. immigration investigator, but they must also prove such claims in a separate court action before a U.S. immigration court judge who ultimately decides whether to grant asylum to the immigrant.
Relying on a large and loyal cadre of local volunteer attorneys to represent about 550 asylum-seeking clients, HRI wins about 85 percent of its cases.
“We simply could not achieve the success we have achieved for our clients without our volunteer attorneys,” Holston said. “This is very difficult work involving some of life’s worst experiences.”
Holston is blunt in his assessment of the U.S. immigration system. “We don’t have a functioning immigration system,” he said. “In this country, we pay for what we value, and we don’t value a humane immigration system that promptly processes claims for asylum in a timely manner. Consequently, too many asylum seekers are living their lives on the sidelines awaiting action from a broken system.”
The true hope in providing legal work for asylum seekers, Healy said, is in the spirit of clients whose lives are sources of inspiration to all who work with them. “They are people whose lives and values embody all the characteristics that make us Americans,” she said. “We are beyond fortunate to be able to work with them.”
Special thanks to the Communities Foundation of Texas for hosting the event.
Make plans now to join us on April 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum to hear Simon Grownowski, Holocaust and 20th Deportation Train Survivor, who will speak about his childhood during the Holocaust, including his escape from the 20th deportation train as it left Kazerne Dossin, a Belgian deportation camp, for Auschwitz, as well as his experience as a hidden child for the remainder of the war.
Then, on May 14, join us at 11 a.m. for “Anne Frank at the Dallas Arboretum,” a hands-on, family-friendly activity exploring the theme of nature in Anne Franks The Diary of a Young Girl. The Dallas Arboretum is located at 8525 Garland Rd, Dallas, TX 75218.
And, if you haven’t yet had a chance, be sure to visit the current special exhibit, Anne Frank: A History for Today. For more information on Museum activities, visit our website.
–Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance
Explore and learn with family-friendly activities throughout Spring Break in conjunction with our latest special exhibit, “Anne Frank: A History for Today.”
Each program features readings from The Diary of a Young Girl, followed by a short discussion and learning activity. The Spring Break programs will be held Mondays through Thursdays, March 7 through 24 at 1:30 p.m. Be sure to RSVP.
On March 12, we are pleased to hold our inaugural Girl Scouts Day at the Museum, which will focus on the life of Anne Frank. Each activity correlates with a different age group and Girl Scout badge. Reservation required.
9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Scribe Badge (Juniors)
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Finding Common Ground Badge (Cadettes)
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Truth Seeker Badge (Seniors)
Be sure to join us on March 18 and 19 for the theater performances, “Conversations with Anne.“
In collaboration with the Anne Frank Center USA, the Museum will present four performances of Conversations with Anne, a 40-minute performance with an actor in the role of the young writer, followed by a Q&A session where children can ask “Anne” questions about her life before the war and in hiding. Showtimes are each day at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets available at Eventbrite.
“Anne Frank: A History for Today” was developed by the Anne Frank House and is sponsored in North America by the Anne Frank Center USA. Exhibit sponsors of at the Dallas Holocaust Museum are Clampitt Paper, Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District, Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs and The Catholic Foundation.
Before the world met the bright, optimistic girl named Anne Frank, she and her family lived in complete secrecy behind a bookcase for two years, hiding from Nazi soldiers and sympathizers.
In the red and white checkered journal given to her by her father for her 13th birthday, Anne wrote down her experiences, insights, and dreams in a voice distinctly her own. “I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people,” she proclaims, “I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”
Now open as a special exhibit, “Anne Frank: A History for Today” takes Dallas Holocaust Museum visitors beyond the pages of her diary by providing a broad perspective on the Holocaust, human rights, the Nazis, and the Frank family’s experiences in hiding. The exhibit introduces new contextual information and insight into the conditions and timeframe in which Anne Frank and her family lived.
At the exhibit opening on Jan. 14, two educators shared their insights into the life of Anne Frank and her diary. Hilary Stipelman, Director of Outreach and Exhibitions for the Anne Frank Center USA, spoke movingly of the universal lessons Anne’s diary shares with the world—courage, optimism, hope and difference-making, to name but a few.
“She left us one of the first written accounts by a family suffering under Nazi tyranny,” Ms. Stipelman said.
Dr. Charlotte Decoster, Assistant Director of Education for the Museum, spoke of a personal connection she felt to Anne Frank while growing up in her home country of Belgium. “Anne is one of the reasons I can speak about hope when it comes to the Holocaust,” she said. “Anne is a symbol for me of the lessons all of us need to learn from Holocaust.”
Although Anne and most of her family members did not survive the Holocaust, her wish to go on living, to affect people’s lives even after death, was granted.
Her diary, discovered by her father after the war, was published in the original Dutch in 1947 and translated into English in 1952, soon becoming one of the most widely read and beloved stories of all time. One of the most widely-read books in the world, “The Diary of a Young Girl” has sold 40 million copies in 70 different languages in the last 69 years.
Reading the diary entries can be gut-wrenching, especially knowing what would become of the young girl. But the endless stream of lessons for humanity and the abounding hope that flows from the pages of her diary continue to inspire readers across the globe.
“It’s really a wonder,” she writes, “that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
In the exhibit, selected diary entries are presented alongside eleven free-standing panels that intertwine the major events of the Holocaust with pivotal moments in Anne Frank’s life.
The exhibit also features a replica of the bookcase that hid the entrance to the secret annex in which Anne and her family lived for two years in hiding. Guests can enter the room via the bookcase door to read about her legacy and watch a short film on her life.
While Anne’s diary tells the story of a young Jewish girl’s life in hiding, it does not discuss details of the Holocaust, the Frank family’s decision to go into hiding, or exactly what happened to them after they were betrayed and deported in August 1944. The exhibit fills in these blanks, providing information on Anne Frank’s story before and after her family’s time in the annex.
Like the diary itself, this special exhibit speaks to the universal lessons that the story of Anne Frank and the Holocaust can offer us today. Guests will leave the Museum with a better understanding of the value of human life, the need to protect life, and the importance of standing up for society’s most vulnerable.
By putting a name and a face to the overwhelming scope of destruction, the story of Anne Frank personalizes our relationship to the events of the Holocaust and allows us to look at evil through a new lens, one brimming with hope, courage, and resolve.
Few had the level of resolve as Anne Frank. “It seems to me,” she writes, “that later on neither I nor anyone else will be interested in the musings of a thirteen-year-old school girl. Oh well, it doesn’t matter. I feel like writing.”
“Anne Frank: A History for Today” is open during regular Museum hours until May 31.
Be sure to join us for these additional events related to the exhibit (learn more at DallasHolocaustMuseum.org).
Spring Break Events: March 7 through 25; Explore and learn with family-friendly activities throughout Spring Break.
Theater Performances: March 18 & 19, 2016 at Museum; Conversations with Anne; Two live performances each day at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Exhibit Sponsors: Clampitt Paper, Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District, Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, The Catholic Foundation.
“Anne Frank: A History for Today” was developed by the Anne Frank House and is sponsored in North America by the Anne Frank Center USA.
-Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance
For Alexis Kosarevsky, the newly-hired translator for the French organization Yahad-In-Unum and a native of Ukraine, the moment in 2008 was transformative.
Yahad-In-Unum was founded in Paris in 2004 by leaders in the French Catholic and Jewish communities to locate, map, cover and memorialize the sites of mass graves of Jewish victims of the Nazi mobile killing units during World War II operating in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Poland and Moldavia.
YIU is led by Father Patrick Desbois, a French Catholic priest whose grandfather was a French soldier deported to the Nazi prison camp Rava-Ruska, located in a Ukrainian town that borders Poland. Fr. Desbois was one of the Museum’s 2012 Hope for Humanity honorees.
The Museum’s current Special Exhibit through the end of the year, “Holocaust by Bullets,” tells the story of the mass killings of Jews, the murder of Roma and the disabled—and YIU’s quest to uncover the truth of the atrocities.
Alexis Kosarevsky, a project and team leader for YIU, working under Fr. Desbois’ direction, has participated in over 40 investigations in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe—research trips that have uncovered 1,700 gravesites.
At the opening reception of the new special exhibit on Sept. 10, Kosarvesky told of his first assignment—translating the testimony of an eyewitness to a mass killing of Jews in a Ukranian village during World War II by Nazis. The victims had been buried in a nearby, unmarked mass grave.
“Just a few weeks before, I was living a care-free life in Paris, a young bachelor,” Kosarevsky said. “Now, I had just retold the story of one of the worst experiences that I had ever heard in my life—of man’s inhumanity to man.”
During a break for the eyewitness, Kosarevsky said he walked to the edge of the mass grave and found himself speaking out loud. “I said to those buried there, ‘You are not forgotten anymore.’ ”
Speaking to a crowd of about 100 people gathered in the Museum’s Theater, Kosarevsky described the five stages that were part of each Nazi massacre, which are described in detail in the exhibit. All total, about 2 million people were shot and left in unmarked graves.
Tragically, it appears that modern-day massacres in areas such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, the Balkans and Syria may be modeled on these village-by-village, on-site massacres perpetrated by the Nazis and their collaborators.
Neither Yahad-In-Unum—nor he, personally—will stop the quest for properly identifying and memorializing each of the victims, Kosarevsky said. “We say to the killers of the world, wherever you kill the people, we will come back to uncover and document what you have done,” he said.
In her remarks at the opening reception, Museum President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins said, “It is our fervent hope that presenting this exhibit influences all of us to work for a world in which history of this sort cannot repeat itself.”
The special exhibit is presented and sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.
Special thanks to the Carl B. and Florence E. King Foundation, for helping the Museum bring Dallas Independent School District students to visit the exhibit; 70kft; Signworks of Dallas; and for their partnership, Yahad-In-Unum and Father Desbois.
Be sure to join us on Oct. 15 for our next Upstander Speaker Series presentation: Ret. Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, former UN peacekeeping force commander for Rwanda at 6:30 p.m. at SMU.
-Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance
For the first seven minutes of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, the audience sat in communal silence.
Literally, not one sound could be heard in the Cinemark 17 Theater in North Dallas as the official British documentary film on the Nazi concentration camps of WWII began to play.
Before the film, Museum President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins warned the 325 people in attendance at the Aug. 3 special screening that the images we were about to watch would be “full of the painful truth” about the atrocities that happened at Nazi concentration and extermination camps—the “starvation, cruelty, murder, misery and suffering . . .”
It was most certainly painful. And, it is why silence seemed the appropriate response to this film: words cannot accurately capture this depiction of man’s inhumanity to man.
Incorporating the work of British, American, and Soviet camera crews, the film documents the liberation of concentration and extermination camps by the Allies as the war in Europe came to a close in April and May 1945.
Alfred Hitchcock, a one-time treatment advisor on the film, suggested the filmmakers avoid tricky editing to enhance the film’s authenticity and credibility. What we are left with are long takes of the most gruesome scenes from the Holocaust: piles of human remains, ashes from the crematoria, and the signs of lives once lived—bags of human hair, wedding rings, spectacles, and toothbrushes.
Footage accumulated for the film would be used in the postwar prosecution of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg and Lüneburg.
Postwar politics and an urgent need to begin the rebuilding of war-ravaged Germany and Britain overtook the film’s production timeline and reflective script.
Consequently, the film was shelved, although excerpts from it were released as part of other Holocaust documentaries after the Imperial War Museum took possession of the rough cut in 1952. Footage, for example, was used in the 1985 documentary, “A Painful Reminder.”
After funding was secured, work to restore and complete the film began in earnest in December 2008. Factual Survey premiered at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival. A documentary about the making of the film was later shown on HBO (under the title Night Will Fall) on Jan. 27, 2015, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
In a brief Q&A following the Cinemark screening, local Holocaust survivor Max Glauben said the film depicted the life he experienced in concentration camps, but the true reality of the atrocities, he said, remain difficult to convey. Max said he would rather focus on the positive lessons he learned as a survivor while reminding the world that evil is ultimately a choice made by each person individually.
The film screening was made possible by Cinemark Theatres, which donated the use of the theater, Academic Partnerships and, in part, with a grant from Humanities Texas, the State Affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Join us on September 10 at 5:30 p.m. for the opening reception and lecture for the upcoming special exhibit “Holocaust by Bullets.” Also, please plan to join us on October 15 for our next Upstander Speaker Series presentation: Ret. Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, former UN peacekeeping force commander for Rwanda at 6:30 p.m. at SMU.
In 1939, Poland was home to a thriving Jewish community of 3.5 million people—folks who made their households and livelihoods in cities, villages and farms across the vast country.
Six years later, barely 300,000 Jews survived in Poland.
The Holocaust—and the Nazi’s Polish-based death camps—resulted in the murder of 3.2 million Jews from Poland, some 90 percent of the country’s Jewish population.
Repercussions of this crime against humanity continue today, but there is renewed hope in Poland for Jews. And Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the American-born Chief Rabbi of Poland, may well be the No. 1 reason why.
Rabbi Schudrich was the special guest of the Museum’s Upstander Speaker Series on June 4 at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas. Appointed Chief Rabbi of Poland in 2004, he has played a central role in the country’s Jewish Renaissance. Indeed, since the fall of Communism in 1989, a growing number of Poles have learned of their Jewish roots, and Rabbi Schudrich is the person they often turn to for guidance.
“We cannot change the number of Jews who were murdered in Poland,” Rabbi Schudrich told the crowd of more than 250 at the JCC. “But, we can change the number of Jews who are out there and have yet to discover their identity.”
Today, about 25,000 Jews call Poland their home. As Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Schudrich spends much of his time counseling people who have discovered—or who are trying to determine whether—they are, in fact, Jewish.
After World War II, most Jews living in Poland who survived the Holocaust left the country—many to Israel—and those who remained were forced to hide their Jewish identities under Soviet Communism.
For Jews living in Poland, “From 1939 to 1989, everything that happens tells you it’s not safe to share your Jewish identity with your children and grandchildren,” Rabbi Schudrich said. “ But in the last 26 years (since the fall of Communism), we’re seeing these children and grandchildren have their hidden secrets now revealed because it is safe—that they are, in fact, Jewish, and there is great hope and optimism.”
These revelations of newly found Jewish identity—Rabbi Schudrich called it the discovery of “the spark of the Jewish soul”—are transforming lives and, albeit slowly, Poland itself. Rabbi Schudrich was one of three Jewish leaders in Poland recently awarded prestigious Bene Merito Medals in recognition of their actions in promoting Poland abroad.
Born in New York City, Rabbi Schudrich attended Jewish day schools there and graduated from Stony Brook University in 1977 with a Religious Studies major and received an MA in History from Columbia University in 1982. He received Conservative smicha (rabbinical ordination) from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and later, an Orthodox smicha through Yeshiva University from Rabbi Moshe Tendler. He served as rabbi of the Jewish Community of Japan from 1983 to 1989 before moving to Poland in 1992.
A rising level of anti-Semitism is an issue throughout Europe, Rabbi Schudrich said, but Poland is making great strides in building strong Jewish-Catholic relationships. “I prefer to emphasize what’s working in Poland,” he said. “Good things are happening, and I am an optimist at heart.”
Be sure to join us for our next Upstander Speaker Series on October 15 when Lieutenant-General Roméo Antonius Dallaire, a Canadian humanitarian, author and retired senator and general, will be the special guest. Dallaire served as Force Commander of UNAMIR, the ill-fated United Nations peacekeeping force for Rwanda between 1993 and 1994, and attempted to stop the genocide that was being waged by Hutu extremists against Tutsis and Hutu moderates.
The Upstander Speaker Series is sponsored by Real Time Resolutions and is supported by The Dallas Morning News, G&H Ventures, LLC and Humanities Texas. This project was made possible through a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
And, don’t miss out on seeing the Museum’s Special Exhibit, “The Wartime Escape,” which chronicles Margaret and H.A. Rey’s (creators of Curious George) escape from the Nazis. The exhibit closes on June 20.
-Chris Kelley for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance
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
Children’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.
Arthur Szyk was a gifted artist who used his pen against masters of propaganda during World War II—the evil Nazi regime, said Dallas lawyer and art collector Rogge Dunn.
“For Arthur Szyk, art was propaganda with a point of view, and he used his gift to stand up” against hatred, prejudice and indifference, Dunn told a Museum crowd of about 75 people at a Jan. 12 special presentation, “Art as Propaganda and Persuasion.”
A fifth generation Texan and a native of Dallas, Dunn is a founding partner of Clouse Dunn LLP, a law firm specializing in business and employment litigation. An avid collector of arts and antiques, he has a special affinity for World War I- and II-era propaganda posters, which he began collecting as a student at the London School of Economics in 1977.
Locally, pieces of his collection have been displayed at the Hall of State at Fair Park during the State Fair of Texas and the Frontiers of Flight Museum.
The work of Arthur Szyk is the subject of the current special exhibit at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, “Drawn to Action: the Life and Work of Arthur Szyk,” through Jan. 31.
During World War II, Syzk engaged in a ‘one man war’ against Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, and also served as a ‘one-man army’ against the evil Axis. He did so through finely detailed, elegant and pointed political and satirical caricature drawings, which served as a one-two combination of social justice and great art.
To effectively persuade a viewer, Dunn said, propaganda art must have a clear objective in mind. He suggested these “pillars of propaganda” are to:
Ridicule and vilify the opponent
Scare the viewer to prevent the threat
Glorify those who have taken action
Humiliate the viewer into action
Evoke empathy in the viewer by sharing suffering
Arthur Szyk’s meticulous hand-drawn art work was intended to motivate citizens into action both on the war front and the home front, Dunn said.
“In the Internet age,” Dunn said, “We sometimes forget the power of a single image to convey a persuasive message. It still does.”
Special thanks to the Texas Jewish Artists Association for sponsoring the event reception.
Please plan to join the Museum for these special upcoming events:
Sunday, Jan. 25, 3 p.m.: International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration at the Museum.
Thursday, Feb. 12, 6:30 p.m.: Opening reception of the new special exhibit, “The Wartime Escape: Margret and H.A. Rey’s Journey from France”; Louise Borden, author of the War Time Escape, will speak about her discovery of the Rey’s story—a story which had not been previously known.
Thursday, March 26, 6:30 p.m., at the Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane, Dallas, TX 75225, the Upstander Speaker Series presents Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player in the NFL, who will speak about his decision to “come out” in the often hostile and homophobic world of professional sports in his message of “Start Where You Are, Use what you Have and Do What you Can.”
-Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance