In Sarajevo, Hope Emerged Among the Diversity of the Human Spirit

ESsarajevoAs journalist and photographer Edward Serotta approached one of the last places of refuge in war-torn Sarajevo—an aging synagogue run by a cross-section of Sarajevo citizens—he could hardly believe the devastation that lay before him.

Refugees of all backgrounds, ethnic groups, and religions had gathered at the Jewish humanitarian aid agency known as La Benevolencija with nothing but the clothes on their backs, while Serotta himself, a neutral party in the conflict, entered the synagogue in a flak jacket and blast helmet.

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Zachor: At Yom Hashoah 2016, We Remember the Children

RememberThe Nazis and their collaborators murdered more than 1.5 million Jewish children between 1933 and 1945—one of the many despicable crimes of the Holocaust.

Every child had a name, a family, a place they called home.

On May 5, at the Museum’s Yom Hashoah 2016 service of remembrance at Dallas’ Congregation Shearith Israel, the children of the Holocaust were memorialized with music, the reading of their testimonies, prayers, and tears.

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In Sadness and Hope, We Will Never Forget: International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016

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Survivor Rosa Blum and Museum President Mary Pat Higgins
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Rabbi Zell lights one of the memorial candles in recognition of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, the world comes together to honor the millions of Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Designated by the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, International Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan. 27) sets aside one day a year for member states of the UN to commemorate the lives lost at the hands of the Nazis and to emphasize the need to develop educational programs that might help prevent future genocides.

Continue reading “In Sadness and Hope, We Will Never Forget: International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016”

For Young Investigator, “Holocaust By Bullets” is a Never-Ending Search for Truth, Dignity

AlexisFor 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.

Continue reading “For Young Investigator, “Holocaust By Bullets” is a Never-Ending Search for Truth, Dignity”

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