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Preventing Massacres Today by Learning from Massacres of the Past

004holocaustbybulletsThe story of the Holocaust is undeniably tragic.

There is no “bright side” to the mass murder of six million European Jews, Roma, homosexuals and others. It is one of the worst periods in human history, and it is painful to consider.

It is not our mission at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, however, to depress our visitors. Quite the opposite, we want you filled with a sense of hope and purpose. We want you to leave the Museum determined to never let these horrors happen again. We want you to be inspired, transformed and motivated to create a future free from hate.

We realize that our upcoming special exhibit “Holocaust By Bullets: Yahad-In Unum – 10 Years of Investigations,” running Sept. 10 to Dec. 31, will be troubling to view. During WWII, the Germans conducted the majority of the genocide by deporting Jews to death camps, located mostly in Poland. In the Soviet Union, however, an insufficient rail system and the capacities of death camps compelled the Nazis to murder Jews near their homes and villages. After shooting their victims, the Nazis buried them in mass ditches before continuing on to another village.

More than 1,700 mass killing sites in Europe have been identified.

There are not words strong enough to express how terrible this story is.

There is hope for the future, though.

The “Holocaust By Bullets” exhibit was created Yahad – In Unum, a global organization created to raise consciousness of the sites of Jewish and Roma mass executions by Nazi killing units in Eastern Europe during World War II. The organization was founded by a Roman Catholic priest — Father Patrick Desbois.

Modern-day massacres in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, the Balkans and Syria have been modeled after the tactics used by the Nazis in the Soviet Union. By studying these sites, we can learn more about this form of genocide and how to prevent it. While Father Desbois’ work nobly memorializes so many victims of the Nazis, it also gives hope for a future where this form of genocide no longer exists.

Yes, “Holocaust By Bullets” will be hard to view. It will also be sure to inspire. We hope that you will visit us to see it.

Factual Survey leaves indelible mark—but for the right reasons

german-concentration-camps-factual-survey-1945-2014-002For 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.

–Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

For Classical Pianist Mona Golabek, a Mother’s Love Yields Lifelong Lessons for All Humanity

Mona Golabek

Mona Golabek

“Each piece of music tells a story,” pianist-author-storyteller Mona Golabek says, “but you have to figure out what the story is.”

And for those who attended the June 10 performance, “An Evening with Mona Golabek,” at the Wyly Theater at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, benefitting the Museum, the story she told simply was amazing.

Through classical piano pieces, projected multimedia photos and images, tastefully recorded sound and spoken narrative, Ms. Golabek told the inspirational story of her mother, Lisa Jura, and her experience as a child of the Kindertransport. The Kindertransport was a British rescue operation at the beginning of World War II that enabled 10,000 primarily Jewish children to escape the Nazis.

To say much more would be to spoil the story, which is told beautifully in Ms. Golabek’s compelling biography of her mother, The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival (with Lee Cohen, Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition, 2003)

You can see an excerpt from Ms. Golabek’s performance here from the 2012 world premiere of The Pianist of Willesden Lane at the Geffen Playhouse, adapted and directed by Hershey Felder.

The themes reflected in Ms. Golabek’s performances are mirrored in the mission of the Museum: to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, and to teach the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference, for the benefit of all humanity.

Following World War II, Lisa Jura became a classical pianist, eventually moving to the U.S. and marrying a French soldier whom she met in Britain during the war, Ms. Golabek’s father.

Daughter followed in mother’s footsteps, becoming a classical pianist herself. Ms. Golabek’s amazing musical talent includes a Grammy nomination. Get Ms. Golabek’s book—filled with music, to be sure—but music that tells a compelling story.

Meantime, make plans to attend a must-see Special Exhibit coming to the Museum.

“Ground Zero 360: Never Forget” displays the work of Nicola McLean, a New York-based Irish photographer who captured powerful images in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Her husband, Paul McCormack, was the presiding New York Police Department Commanding Officer of the 41st Precinct at the time. Together they created the exhibit in remembrance of the victims of the attacks and in honor of the heroic actions of first responders who worked tirelessly in the hours, days, and weeks that followed.

On the exhibit’s opening day on July 2, the Museum will honor first responders from the North Texas community by hosting a First Responders Open House from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., providing free admittance with funding from Communities Foundation of Texas donors. Breakfast and lunch will also be provided. The launch day activities continue that evening with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by a lecture from McCormack.

McLean and McCormack, who met shortly before 9/11 and later married, worked together over the course of 10 years to create the exhibit. Comprised of moving visual and audio elements, the exhibit allows patrons to gain perspective and reflect on what New Yorkers experienced during this tragic time.

-Chris Kelley, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum

 

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

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.

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

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