Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week
Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week is a series of events held between mid-April and early May on the KWU campus (and often off campus as well) to remember those who died in the Nazi Holocaust of World War II and to raise awareness of the ongoing problem of genocide throughout the world. Begun in 2007 as “Holocaust Remembrance Week” by the KWU Department of History, the annual event has grown every year. It is characterized by cross-campus participation, diverse programs and events, sponsorship by a wide variety of local and national entities and draws an audience that includes students from KWU and other schools, as well as many guests from Salina and outlying communities. In 2012, the name of the event was expanded to “Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week” to better reflect the trend seen at Holocaust museums, cultural and survivor associations and academic programs to link the two topics as a way of confronting the ongoing threat of genocide.
The event was held every year from 2007-2019, until being put on pause for two years due to COVID-19. Below is information on previous events.
Please note that some of the links below are under construction and may be inoperable.
The very first KWU Holocaust Remembrance Week in April of 2007 was modeled on previous weeks of remembrance in which the coordinator, Dr. Mike Russell, had participated before coming to KWU. The structure, which became the prototype for the KWU week of remembrance also, saw a series of different events. These included a lecture, a documentary screening, a presentation by a survivor speaker and some form of cultural or artistic display.
Following this model, the KWU annual series of events would also include a meet-and-greet with the survivor speaker after their presentation and an open door policy toward the community, with all events being presented at no cost. The first survivor speaker, Ms. Jill Pauly, was technically not a camp survivor. However, she had lived as a child in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and had subsequently fled Europe with her family before the war started. Her story, however, proved to be a very interesting and related topic to the Holocaust — one that many people forget about (that is, what happened to the German Jews before the war and the actual Holocaust began; in essence, the place and point in History where the seeds for the Holocaust genocide were planted).
This guest survivor speaker was the first of what are now several to visit KWU courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Speakers Bureau. In addition, the basis for cross-campus participation in the week of events was also established this first year. Below, please find links to both the 2007 Holocaust Remembrance Week poster detailing everything that happened during the week of remembrance and biographical information about the guest survivor speaker. In addition, though he did not speak, Ms. Pauly’s husband (Kurt Pauly) accompanied his wife to KWU. A link to his biography is also included as it is quite interesting.
The 2008 Holocaust Remembrance Week saw the visit to the KWU campus of Ms. Inge Auerbacher, a survivor of the Theresienstadt concentration camp located in Czechoslovakia. Although not a “death camp,” per se, Theresienstadt became a transit camp for people being sent to the Auschwitz death camp (though its original purpose was as an old age and family ghetto for German and Austrian Jews and as a “model” camp to show outsiders how “benevolently” the Nazis were treating their prisoners).
In addition to surviving this camp experience, Ms. Auerbacher has also written several books, her first two about her experiences during the Nazi period and her subsequent immigration to the U.S. Poetry contained in her first book was used as a jumping-off point for local high school art students to respond to with drawings. Through the sponsorship of the KWU Art Department, these images were displayed in the art wing of Sams Hall of Fine Arts at KWU and the students were invited to campus to meet with Ms. Auerbacher, who then commented on their artwork and its relation to her poetry. After her presentation, Ms. Auerbacher did a book signing (she brought several copies of her various books for sale) and also donated copies to the KWU Memorial Library. Below please find links to biographical information about Ms. Auerbacher, the event poster detailing everything that happened during the week of remembrance and the introduction given for our guest survivor speaker.
The 2009 Holocaust Remembrance Week saw a major increase in terms of outside sponsorship and participation. In addition to very generous financial support from the Greater Salina Community Foundation and Smoky Hill Museum, Smoky Hill Museum also participated directly in the week of remembrance. By virtue of the additional generosity of the University of Minnesota Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program, caretakers of the “Sur-Rational Holocaust Paintings” series by the late Fritz Hirschberger, Smoky Hill Museum was allowed to reproduce poster-sized images of these painting. These were then mounted in a variety of ways and were displayed throughout the museum as an exhibit entitled “Out of the Ashes.” With the assistance of the KWU English Department, local high school students were invited to submit poetry or prose that responded in some fashion to one of the paintings of their choice. Three of these submissions were included in the “Out of the Ashes” display, and the three students subsequently were invited to the museum to publicly read their work. The highlight of the 2009 week of remembrance was the presentation given on the KWU campus by Auschwitz death camp survivor Dr. Edith Eger entitled, “The Art of Survival.” Images taken during the week of remembrance, with descriptions, can be seen in the gallery below. In addition, links to specific biographical information about the guest survivor speaker and the 2009 event poster detailing everything that happened during the week of remembrance can be found below the images.
The 2010 Holocaust Remembrance Week evidenced a growth in the cooperative relationship between Kansas Wesleyan University and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). In addition to our 2010 guest Holocaust survivor speaker, Ms. Agi Geva — a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp — being the second speaker to come to KWU from the USHMM’s Speaker’s Bureau, we were also fortunate to have an additional guest speaker from the Holocaust Museum this year, Ms. Sara Weisman. Ms. Weisman, Outreach Coordinator of the Committee on Conscience at the USHMM, spoke about the ongoing problem of genocide throughout the world. Her presentation was among the first of what has become an increasing aspect of the KWU Holocaust Remembrance Week — the inclusion of a presentation or display on current genocide issues.
The growing cooperating between Kansas Wesleyan University and the USHMM was also seen in 2010 with the creation of a visual display entitled, “The Many Faces of the Holocaust.” Placed in public areas throughout the KWU campus, the display was made up of foam board posters with photographic and biographical information about individuals who — be they victims, perpetrators, survivors or bystanders — participated in the Holocaust. The purpose behind the display was to illustrate, as is seen in the title, the vast diversity and breadth among the people touched by the event. The majority of the images and biographical descriptions used in the display came from the USHMM’s archives and permission for their duplication and use was generously given to KWU by the museum’s archive director. In addition to her presentation at KWU, Ms. Agi Geva, Auschwitz camp survivor, also spoke to a class of students at Lakewood Middle School.
Links to specific biographical information about the guest survivor speaker and the 2010 event poster detailing everything that happened during the week of remembrance can be found below the images.
The 2011 Holocaust Remembrance Week saw the return of Dr. Edith Eger to KWU as the featured Holocaust survivor speaker. Her return visit was billed as “Back by popular demand.” She once again gave the same presentation at KWU as had been done in 2009 — “The Art of Survival.” In addition, Dr. Eger also agreed to speak at Presbyterian Manor (the presentation was entitled, “Surviving Your 80s and Beyond”) and at Sacred Heart High School. With continued support and assistance from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Archive, 2011 also saw the visual display “The Many Faces of the Holocaust” again, with several new panels added to those displayed in 2010. Additionally, KWU was fortunate to receive the generous support of the Greater Salina Community Foundation, Smoky Hill Museum, Schwan’s Foods and Presbyterian Manor. Links to specific biographical information about the guest survivor speaker, the speaker’s presentation flyer and the 2011 event poster detailing everything that happened during the week of remembrance can be found below the images.
Our 2012 series of events inaugurated the transition of the name from “Holocaust Remembrance Week” to “Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week” to better characterize the inclusion of genocide awareness and prevention topics that began in 2010. The cooperative relationship between KWU and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum continued as we were fortunate to host two guest speakers who came to us from the USHMM’s Speakers Bureau.
The featured Holocaust survivor speaker was Ms. Halina Peabody. Born Halina Litman near Krakow, Poland, Ms. Peabody, her mother and her sister spent the years of Nazi-occupied Poland living among the Nazis and free Poles with forged documents stating that they were Christians. Though suspected, their Jewish identity was never fully revealed and, as a result, they survived the Holocaust.
In addition to Ms. Peabody’s intriguing presentation, KWU was also fortunate to have Mr. Vincent Slatt speak. Mr. Slatt is a reference librarian at the USHMM Library. His presentation was given in KWU Memorial Library and focused on the vast holdings and all the research opportunities present, many of them online, at the USHMM Library. Generous support was provided for the 2012 Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week by Smoky Hill Museum, Schwan’s Foods and Walmart. Links to past news stories, specific biographical information about the guest survivor speaker and the 2012 event poster detailing everything that happened during the week of remembrance can be found below.
The special partnership between KWU, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Smoky Hill Museum continued in 2013. Once again, we were honored by the presence of a guest Holocaust survivor speaker from the Holocaust Museum’s Speakers Bureau, Mr. Robert Behr.
Mr. Behr is a survivor of the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. We were also fortunate to be able to work directly with Smoky Hill Museum in one of the week-long events. The 2013 week of remembrance included a presentation by Dr. Mike Russell, Associate Professor of History at KWU, entitled, “Interpretation and Imagery: Commemorating the Holocaust through Memorials and Museums,” the screening of the video “Through Our Own Eyes,” a collection of personal testimonies by members of the Kansas City Jewish community who survived the Holocaust (produced by the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education in Overland Park, KS), Mr. Robert Behr’s intriguing story of survival and a reworked showing of the “Out of the Ashes” display of Fritz Hirschberger’s “Surrational” Holocaust-themed paintings, sponsored by Smoky Hill Museum.
Please see images of this display in its original format in the 2009 Holocaust Remembrance Week link on the right of this page. As always, KWU Memorial Library hosted a display of the library’s Holocaust-themed holdings. They also hosted the “Out of the Ashes” display. Sincere thanks and appreciation go to Greater Salina Community Foundation, Smoky Hill Museum, Ron and Marcia MacLennan and the KWU Office of the Executive Vice-President/Provost for their generous financial support.
Below please find links to biographical info about our guest Holocaust survivor speaker, the 2013 event poster and the background introduction to Mr. Robert Behr’s presentation:
The 2014 series of events was held during the week of April 21st – April 25th. We were again fortunate to have partnered with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. in obtaining our guest Holocaust survivor speaker. This year’s speaker was Mr. Martin Weiss, originally from Czechoslovakia, who spent time at the Auschwitz death camp and other ghettos and forced labor camps. His story was intriguing — even riveting — and drew the largest audience to date at the annual Holocaust remembrances (over 500 persons). A special word of thanks is given to the KWU Alumni Association and to Smoky Hill Museum for their generous financial support in helping bring Mr. Weiss to the KWU campus. More information about Mr. Weiss can be found in the links below.
In addition to Mr. Weiss’s presentation, Dr. Andrew Bedrous, Assistant Professor of Sociology, presented, “The Victimhood Narrative of the Holocaust: What We Can Learn Through Photographs.” The documentary, “Anne Frank Remembered” (winner of the 1995 Academy Award for Best Documentary) was screened and discussed. And, as functions of the KWU-Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum Partnership, a jointly sponsored display was shown in Memorial Library entitled, “General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Holocaust.” A cosponsored presentation was given at the Eisenhower Library by Dr. Mike Russell, KWU Associate Professor of History, entitled, “Interpretation and Imagery: Commemorating the Holocaust through Memorials and Museums.” Images from the library display on General Eisenhower and the Holocaust can also be seen below, as well as the poster advertising all of the events during the week of remembrance. Finally, the “Constant Contact” link below will provide more information about Dr. Russell’s presentation at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.
The 2015 event was held during the week of April 20th – 24th and continued the tradition of cross-campus and cross-community participation. We were again fortunate to work with the Speakers Bureau of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
This year’s special survivor guest speaker was Mr. Henry Greenbaum, who was born in Poland in 1928. Mr. Greenbaum is a survivor of many aspects of the Holocaust (ghetto, work camp, death camp (Auschwitz) and death march) — as a result, his story was very intriguing, and he received a standing ovation after his presentation in Sams Chapel to an audience of approx. 500 visitors. Mr. Greenbaum then graciously visited with individuals during a “Meet-and-Greet” event after his presentation.
In addition, this year’s series of events included a lecture and discussion entitled, “Holocaust Poetry” by Dr. Brigitte McCray, Assistant Professor of English. Dr. McCray specializes in connections between literature, trauma and community. In her presentation, she introduced key poets and showed how poems have become a form of witness literature.
We also screened a video, “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport (Warner Bros., 2000), winner of the 2000 Academy Award for Best Documentary. And there were also two visual displays on campus during the week of remembrance: in Memorial Library various research materials related to the Holocaust held by the library and available for check out were put on display, and the 2nd floor foyer of Pioneer Hall held a biographic and photographic display about all the past survivor speakers who have visited KWU during our annual events. Below, you can find links to additional information related to this year’s week of remembrance.
Lecture: Why Deny? The Armenian Genocide, The Rape of Nanking, and the Holocaust as Examples
Monday, April 25, 2016 | 6-7:30 p.m. | Pioneer Hall Room 325 | Free
What is denialism? Why does it exist? What is it about the Armenian Genocide, the Rape of Nanking and the Holocaust that lead a small but determined minority to either deny that they happened at all, or that these events have been misrepresented in history? How should we respond to denialism? Dr. Mike Russell, Associate Professor of History at KWU, will give a presentation that addresses these issues and will lead a brief Q and A period afterwards. Sponsored by the KWU Department of History.
Video: “Protocols of Zion” (Image Entertainment, 2006)
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 | 6-8 p.m. | Pioneer Hall Room 325 | Free
Released after September 11, 2001, this documentary explores the ongoing notion of a “Jewish Conspiracy” to take over the world, first proposed in a forgery by the czarist secret police in 19th century Russia, which has now expanded into a belief widely held by anti-Semites that Israel was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A brief discussion will follow the screening. Sponsored by the Alpha Theta Alpha Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. (Rated R for disturbing content and adult language)
Holocaust Survivor Presentation:
“The Art of Survival” by Auschwitz survivor Edith “Edie” Eger, Ph.D.
Wednesday, April 27, 2016 | 7 p.m. | Sams Chapel | Free
Back by popular demand, Holocaust survivor Edith “Edie” Eger, Ph.D., will be the guest speaker for the featured presentation during the 10th annual Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week. Dr. Eger has spoken twice before at KWU as the featured Holocaust survivor guest presenter, in 2011 and 2009. She will share her experiences at the infamous Nazi death camp Auschwitz and various work camps prior to her liberation from the Gunskirchen camp in Austria where she was literally snatched from the clutches of death. She later came to the United States, where she became a clinical psychologist, now specializing in treating patients with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Along with her personal story of survival, she brings a special message of healing, compassion and optimism. Sponsored by the KWU Department of History and local community members.
Lecture: “Dwight Eisenhower’s Greatest Achievement: Protecting the History of the Holocaust”
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 | 6-7:30 p.m. | Hauptli Student Activities Center Room 203 | Free
Mr. Tim Rives, Deputy Director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home discussed how Ike’s efforts to document the reality of the concentration camps was a punitive strike against future deniers. Among his many achievements as commander and president, his battle to preserve the truth of the concentration camps may be his greatest. Mr. Rives is also the Supervisory Archivist at the Eisenhower Library and is an expert on many facets of the history of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Sponsored by the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum, and Boyhood Home in Abilene.
Video: “Protocols of Zion” (Image Entertainment, 2006)
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 | 6-8 p.m. | Hauptli Student Activities Center Room 203 | Free
Released after Sept. 11, 2001 and based upon an anti-Semitic forgery concocted by 19th century secret police in Russia about Jews “trying to take over the world,” this documentary explores the belief by many – particularly in the Arab world – that Israel was behind the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It presents a frightening view of contemporary anti-Semitism and its effect on ignorant masses around the world. Sponsored by the Alpha Theta Alpha Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. (Rated R for disturbing content and adult language)
Holocaust Survivor Guest Speaker:
Thursday, April 27, 2017 | 7 p.m. | Sams Chapel | Free
This year’s special event was the presentation by Holocaust survivor Nathan Shaffir, who shared his experiences during the Holocaust and after. “Nat,” originally from Romania, was 6 years old when pro-Nazi government agents and soldiers began persecuting Jews in Romania (including Nat and his family). This continued at the hands of Hungarian soldiers occupying parts of Romania and also after the war, as the new Communist government maintained a policy of anti-Semitism toward the Jews who had survived the Holocaust. This story sheds an important light on the reality of the Holocaust and the period afterwards – for all of Nazi Germany’s guilt and participation in this horrible event, many other nations acted in collaboration with the Nazis or had homegrown programs and policies directed at their own Jews. Sponsored by the KWU Department of History, The KWU Alumni Association, Smoky HIll Museum and other private donors. Mr. Shaffir’s visit was made possible due to the generosity and cooperation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Speakers Bureau in Washington, D.C.
Thursday, April 27, 2017 | 8:30 p.m. | Brown Mezzanine of the Hauptli Student Activities Center (2nd Floor) | Free
After Mr. Shaffir’s presentation, guests were able to visit with our Holocaust survivor speaker in a casual and comfortable setting shortly after his presentation in Sams Chapel had concluded. Light refreshments were provided. Sponsored by Arete, The KWU Honors Program.
The 12th Annual Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness reflected the cooperation and participation of several of KWU’s partners and colleagues in the Salina community — specifically Smoky Hill Museum, The Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home and The Salina Art Center Cinema. Special thanks go to Smoky Hill Museum, the KWU Alumni Association and several private donors for their generous financial support. Guest Holocaust survivor speaker courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Speakers Bureau in Washington, D.C.
Lecture: “The United States and the Holocaust”
Thursday, April 26, 2018 | 12pm-1pm | Eisenhower Presidential Library Visitor’s Center Auditorium in Abilene (1-877-RING IKE) | Free
Dr. Mike Russell, Associate Professor of History at Kansas Wesleyan University, discussed the U.S. attitudes and policies toward the Holocaust (then and now), specifically, “What did the U.S. know and when did it know it,” “Us vs. Them” and “The Holocaust in the American Conscience.”
Video: “Big Sonia” (2016)
Friday, April 27 through Thursday, May 3, 2018 | Showtimes: Fri. – 5:30 pm & 7:30 pm, Sat & Sun. – 2:00 pm, 5:00 pm & 7:00 pm, and Mon.-Thurs. – 5:30 pm | Salina Art Center Cinema (downtown Salina — (785) 452-9868) | Admission charged
Co-directors Todd Soliday and Leah Warshawski have crafted a very personal documentary that is both heart-wrenching and uplifting. Viewers may find themselves smiling through tears — tears because of the stories that 91-year-old Big Sonia tells of her experiences as a Holocaust survivor, smiles because there’s ultimately joy and redemption in the impact that Sonia’s stories have on those who hear them. An authentic, legendary Kansas City “character,” Big Sonia puts life into a bigger perspective, inspiring everyone who hears her with her courage, determination and goodness. (Unrated; contains mature content)
Holocaust Survivor Guest Speaker:
Thursday, May 3, 2018 | 7 p.m. | Sams Chapel | Free
Holocaust survivor Susan Warsinger shared her experiences as a Jewish child living in Germany during the Nazi period, her separation from her family after she was smuggled into France and their eventual reunion in the United States where they all survived the Holocaust as an intact family. Her story sheds an important light on the reality of the Holocaust and the period before the establishment of the more famous death camps in Poland after the war began — a story that is often forgotten. The first people to suffer under the Nazis were the Jewish citizens in Germany during the 1930s, who lost their citizenship, their jobs and their property. Only about half of Germany’s Jews managed to leave Germany before the war. The majority who stayed behind perished in the Holocaust. Sponsored by the KWU Department of History, The KWU Alumni Association, Smoky Hill Museum and other private donors.
Thursday, May, 3 2018 | 8:30 p.m. | Brown Mezzanine of the Hauptli Student Activities Center (2nd Floor) | Free
Visitors were able to meet our guest Holocaust survivor speaker in a casual and comfortable setting shortly after her presentation in Sams Chapel was concluded. Light refreshments were provided. Sponsored by the KWU Memorial Library.
This year’s 13th Annual Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week is coordinated by the KWU Department of History and sponsored with generous financial support by Smoky Hill Museum, the KWU Alumni Association, and several private donors. Special thanks also go to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Speakers Bureau in Washington, D.C. for providing our guest Holocaust survivor speaker. All events are open to the public without charge.
Lecture: “Bonhoeffer: Theologian and Martyr”
Monday, April 8, 2019 | 7pm-8pm | Pioneer Hall, Room 325
Dr. Meredith Drees, Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy, will explore the life and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor and theologian who wrote, The Cost of Discipleship and sacrificed his life in order to “suffer with those who suffered.” Dr. Drees will examine a selection of passages that display Bonhoeffer’s extraordinary understanding of faith in times of conflict, his rejection of “cheap grace,” and his determination to do the will of God, even at the ultimate cost. A brief Q. and A. period will follow.
Video: “A Film Unfinished” (2010)
Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 |6:30pm-8:00pm | Pioneer Hall, Room 325
The documentary: “A Film Unfinished” (Oscilloscope Laboratories, 2010) provides insight into the Nazi propaganda machine during the Holocaust. Filmed in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 right before the ghetto’s liquidation, it illustrates Nazi techniques to stage their activities in Poland in a favorable light, while at the same time providing rarely seen footage of the horror perpetrated on the Jewish population of Warsaw during the Holocaust. Not Rated. A brief discussion period will follow the screening.
Holocaust Survivor Guest Speaker:
Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 | 7:00pm-8:00pm | Sams Chapel (2nd Floor of Pioneer Hall)
Mr. Emmanuel (Manny) Mandel will visit the KWU campus to share his experiences during the Holocaust. Of Hungarian origin, though born in Riga, Latvia in 1936, shortly after his birth the family moved back to Budapest, Hungary where his father became a cantor at the city’s main synagogue. Manny was eight when Nazi Germany occupied Hungary in 1944. His father was impressed into a forced labor gang and Manny, his mother, and brother were sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. They remained there for six months and were then among a fortunate group traded by the Nazis to the Jewish Rescue and Relief Committee in exchange for trucks and other goods. They were taken to Switzerland and then immigrated to Palestine in 1945 once the war was over. Manny’s father also survived and soon joined them. The family then moved to the U.S. in 1949, settling in Philadelphia and becoming American citizens. Manny eventually became a practicing psychotherapist in Maryland until his retirement in 2014. His visit is made possible through the courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and arranged by the KWU Department of History.
Wednesday, April 10th, 2019 | 8:30pm | Brown Mezzanine of the Hauptli Student Activities Center (2nd Floor)
Please join us and meet our guest Holocaust survivor speaker in a casual and comfortable setting shortly after his presentation in Sams Chapel has concluded. Light refreshments will be provided. Sponsored by the KWU Memorial Library.
Listen to an interesting interview on KSAL “Friendly Fire” show on Apr. 1, 2019:
Dr. Mike Russell discusses the 2019 KWU Holocaust Remembrance and Genocide Awareness Week and other aspects of the Holocaust with host Jeff Garettson and guest co-host Nancy Hodges. Note: due to original file size, the recording was provided to us in four segments. Also, the recording begins about 1 minute into the interview, missing the introduction, and cutting-in when Dr. Russell is discussing the important relationship between KWU and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.