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

— 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 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

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

Thank You to Scholar and Philanthropist Lilian Furst


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


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


Special Exhibit About the Creators of Curious George Attracts Visitors of All Ages


Installing the new exhibit, The Wartime Escape: Margret & H.A. Rey’s Journey from France.

The new special exhibit, The Wartime Escape: Margret & H.A. Rey’s Journey from France, lets the Museum to do something that we’ve never done before in our 30-plus years.

Speak to young children about issues surrounding life as a refugee during World War II through colorful, age-appropriate drawings and fun activities.

The exhibit is based on a children’s book about the creators of the character Curious George and their real-life escape from the Nazis in 1940. Margret and Hans A. Rey were artists and German-Jews living in Paris when the Nazis invaded France, and they had to escape the advancing occupation on bicycle. Their Curious George manuscript was one of the few items they were able to take with them.

While it is not advised for children younger than 10 to view the Museum’s core exhibit, Wartime Escape is suitable for younger kids. It uses colorful drawings to visually tell the story of the Reys’ journey through France, Spain, and Portugal, then on to Madeira Island, Brazil, and finally, the United States.

The exhibit offers something fun and educational for the whole family. Did you know, for example, that Curious George was originally going to be named Fifi? Or that the Reys had, at one time, two pet monkeys living with them in their apartment?

There is no discussion of concentration camps or antisemitism, but the exhibit can elicit age-appropriate conversations with children and prejudice and apathy. The Reys are the heroes of this story, and their lives can be tools to teach young people how to face and overcome challenges in the real world. The villains of the story – the Nazis —  are examples of how never to behave.

The exhibit includes a children’s area with books, pillows, tiny desks and chairs so parents and teachers can sit with youngsters and read. We’ve also planned a dozen or so fun and educational activities for children at the Museum during spring break and with our community partners, including the Dallas Zoo and Bookmarks in NorthPark Center. And, please, take a look at the Curious George toys and books in the Museum Store.

The Wartime Escape: Margret & H.A. Rey’s Journey from France runs from February 12 to June 20, 2015. For more information about the children’s’ activities accompanying the exhibit, visit the Museum calendar at

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

Volunteers Starting Young at the Museum


One of the young volunteers helps with merchandise for the Museum Store.

Volunteers at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance are younger and younger at heart.

In fact, 33 percent of the people signed up to volunteer at the Museum are age 20 to 24, a much higher percentage than seen at other organizations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the volunteer rate among people of that age group nationwide was only 18.5 percent in 2013.

It may seem a contradiction that young people would want to volunteer at the Museum which might – at first glance – seem to have little to interest them. After all, the Holocaust ended 70 years ago, before even some of our volunteers’ grandparents were born.

But Jason Lalonde, the Museum’s program coordinator who organizes the facility’s volunteer efforts, says the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s message of tolerance and hope for a future without hate speaks to Millennials. They want to be Upstanders – people who stand up against hatred rather than be indifferent toward it.

“I think that younger people are often hopeful and open to changing behaviors and may be the ones who experience bullying and intolerance, so the message of education, tolerance, and becoming an Upstander resonates with them,” he said.

Lalonde also points to the more tangible aspects of volunteering at the Museum. Young volunteers can gain experience in fundraising, event planning, accounting, sales, academic research and other areas that they might want to pursue as careers later in life.

The Museum actively recruits volunteers through college volunteer fairs and employment offices as well as volunteer websites. Many volunteers, Lalonde said, also hear about the program from their friends who are involved with the Museum and have a great time volunteering.

For more information about volunteering at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, visit or email

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

A Peek at the New Museum

NewMuseumA visit to the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance on a busy day can seem like you’re walking into controlled chaos.

When the 6,000 sq. ft. exhibit space, which can only fit 250 visitors at one time, is filled with one or more school classes, police officers from a diversity workshop, groups of downtown conventioneers, tourists, locals, Museum members and others, staff must perform an intricate dance to control traffic, moving folks through tours, special exhibit areas and the theater in unison to prevent gridlock. Still, there is a finite amount of space, and when it is filled, crowding is unavoidable.

It is a bittersweet circumstance that more people want to visit the Dallas Holocaust Museum and learn about its mission than can physically fit, but overcrowding is an issue Museum officials know they must address. That is why officials are in the beginning phases of building a new and larger museum, and their plans involve strengthening and expanding the Museum’s mission.

“Our focus, of course, will be on preserving evidence of the Holocaust and teaching lessons of that event,” President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins told a Dallas Morning News reporter in a recent article about the plans. “But we also want to deal with genocide around the world and current events related to prejudice and hatred, and goodness knows there are plenty of things happening today that prove the reason why this museum is important. I don’t know any other Holocaust museum that deals with the civil rights movement and human rights issues.”

Michael Berenbaum, former project director for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, is working on the potential museum’s exhibit plan and Omniplan architects are involved with building design. No details on the facility’s size and cost have been nailed down, but officials have purchased land near the current Museum for the new space.

The lessons of the Holocaust – the importance of tolerance, diversity and standing up for yourself and others – are more important today than ever. Research indicates children begin developing racial biases as young as three. All people must consider how their behavior towards others are crucial in creating a world where hate and intolerance do not exist.

School children made up approximately half of the 65,000 visitors who came to the Museum in 2014, and more are expected in 2015. A second-year partnership with DISD that brings economically disadvantaged students to the Museum for free through generous donations is expected to bring thousands of students.

No timeline has been set up for the creation of a new Holocaust museum, but the need for a larger space for learning about the Holocaust and human rights in our area is clear. Please stay tuned.

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


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