On Thursday January 26, 2023, I attended Remembering: Talking About the Holocaust in the 21st Century, a panel discussion co-sponsored by Fordham University and the Under-Told Stories Project of the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, in partnership with the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York. It was moderated by Fred de Sam Lazaro, director of the Under-Told Stories Project at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, a program that combines international journalism and teaching. He has served with the PBS NewsHour since 1985 and is a regular contributor and substitute anchor for PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. Fred de Sam Lazaro | Author | PBS NewsHour
If you would like to see the recorded video of the entire event, you may follow the link: WATCH: Talking about the Holocaust in the 21st century | PBS NewsHour
As an alternate, here is a text report from FORDHAM NEWS: At Holocaust Remembrance Event, Reimagining How to Retell a Vital Story (fordham.edu)
HERE ARE MY TAKE-AWAYS: are my take-aways with links for more information about each of the participants:
FOUR KEY Suggestions (with references) on How to discuss the Holocaust in conversations and in classes and seminars:
- Keep the stories of the HEROES among Jews and Jewish sympathizers, the “Righteous Ones,” in tandem with the facts of the Holocaust catastrophe, Nazi ideology, and humanity’s inhumanity. This imperative was presented by:
- Professor Eva Paddock, Educator and Holocaust survivor, shared some of her personal story as one rescued from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II.
At age 2, Eva was one among close to 700 youth whose parents authorized their emigration to England via train and ship to live safely in foster homes. Now known as “Winton’s Children,” the heart-rending evacuation of mainly Czech and Slovak children for safety was organized by Sir Nicholas Winton, a 29-year-old British Stockbroker between March and September 1939, in the
months leading up to the outbreak of World War II. Winton’s parents were of German Jewish descent, and his deep foreboding regarding Nazi’s approaching Czechoslovakia, inspired him to organize eight trains for the Jewish children’s transportation out of the country.
- In the interview, Professor Paddock also shared the extraordinary events that led to her father’s subsequent escape from Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia –including the fact that he was actually assisted by a sympathetic SS Officer!
- Peter Osnos, journalist, is an American journalist who is the founder of PublicAffairs Books. Mr. Osnos shared information about his UNTOLD STORES PROJECT Under-Told Stories Project (undertoldstories.org) highlighting the Winton project as illustrated in a recent book by Internationally renowned illustrator Peter Sis.
- Telling the Holocaust story to children – Under-Told Stories Project (undertoldstories.org)
- Peter Osnos on 5 decades of reporting and witnessing history | PBS NewsHour
- Peter Sis Peter Sís – Internationally acclaimed illustrator (petersis.com) and
- Peter Sís | Authors | Macmillan
- A great reference for speaking about the Holocaust: Holocaust Remembrance Day: Jewish rescuers want their story told | ktvb.com
- Excellent Resource for Holocaust Heroes:
- Echoes & Reflections (echoesandreflections.org)
- The Diplomat Who Saved Thousands of Jews During the Holocaust
Book Recommendation: No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State by Elisabeth Sifton and Fritz Stern No Ordinary Men: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Hans von Dohnanyi, Resisters Against Hitler in Church and State by Elisabeth Sifton | Goodreads
2. Yes, it is helpful to offer comparisons and distinctions of Holocaust history with other historical genocides, wars, and political travesties – Armenian Genocide in Turkey, Massacre of Albanians in the Balkan Wars, Rwanda, Stalin, etc. – while insisting on the unprecedented, unique facts of the Nazi “FINAL Solution.” This emphasis articulated strongly by:
- Magda Teter, Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies, Fordham University emphasized this point. She also spoke about her current project: Integrating Jewish History in General History
Microsoft Word – CV-Teter.doc (fordham.edu)
Blood Libel — Magda Teter | Harvard University Press
3. It remains essential to include the Contexts of European Antisemitism in discussions and presentations of the Holocaust. Furthermore, include details on the origins of, and specifics of, Nazi ideology, the horror of eugenics, with concrete historical evidence of the prophetic signs of impending Nazi ascent. The panel was unanimous emphasizing these points, emphasized strongly by:
- Professor James Loeffler, Jay Berkowitz Professor of Jewish History, University of Virginia
- Home – James Loeffler
- Biography – James Loeffler
- Jewish History | Department of History (virginia.edu)
4. Regarding Antisemitism in America Today: The Charlottesville Riots of August 11, 2017, brought the contemporary eruption of Anti-Semitism into focus for the American public. As always, encourage critical thinking imbued with religious and social ethics. Note that in Charlottesville, the behavior was not Holocaust denial, but rather, a resurrection Nazi ideology and symbols –including its propaganda methods were revoltingly on display. Note the rioters’ holding torches on August 11, 2017 – a deliberate imitation of Wagnerian opera and Nazi propaganda art direction:
For More on Charlottesville, see What to know about the violent Charlottesville protests and anniversary rallies – ABC News (go.com)
Judy Woodruff, Anchor PBS NewsHour, who spoke of urgency in addressing the divisiveness and hate in the USA and elsewhere, with a special attention to the rise in Antisemitism.
Judy Woodruff’s goodbye message to viewers as she departs NewsHour anchor desk | PBS NewsHour
Linda Kinstler, Author of Come to This Court and Cry: How the Holocaust Ends
Linda Kinstler — Come To This Court and Cry: How the Holocaust Ends – with Julia Ioffe – YouTube