Shulamit Imber has served as the Pedagogical Director of the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem since 1994, and is the Fred Hillman Chair in Memory of Janusz Korczak. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience and has developed numerous Holocaust-related teaching units in Hebrew and English. She has lectured on Holocaust education around the world.
In May 2019, Eva's Stories went viral on Instagram and other social media platforms. This session will focus on Eva's Heymann's diary (published by Yad Vashem in the 1970s) and the use of social media platforms to commemorate the Holocaust, raising questions about presenting authentic material and educational questions to today's students.
Heroic Rescuer or Betrayer of Hungarian Jews?
Dr. Kathy Glatter, MD, works as a physician in northern California. She is Co-President of Holocaust Survivors and Descendants in Sacramento, California and is a member of the Sacramento Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Committee. She is working on a graduate degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies through Gratz College. Dr. Glatter helped digitize the recently discovered original Szeged, Hungary 1944 deportation list with other Hungarian Jewish researchers.
Over 500,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in the last days of the Holocaust. Rudolf Kasztner was a Hungarian Jewish leader who negotiated with Adolf Eichmann, yet he is widely reviled as a traitor. Kasztner organized the “Kasztner Train” where 1,684 Hungarian Jews escaped to Switzerland. He was criticized for not warning the Hungarian Jewish population of their impending destruction. Kastzner helped route over 15,000 Hungarian “Jews on ice” to survival at Strasshof Labor Camp rather than Auschwitz. Finally, he left Switzerland in April, 1945 with SS Officer Kurt Becher to prevent the murder of concentration camp survivors. After the war, he faced allegations of being a Nazi collaborator, from which he was ultimately cleared, yet he was assassinated in Israel. Was Kasztner judged more harshly than Schindler, another flawed Holocaust rescuer, precisely because he was Jewish? This presentation will critically evaluate Kasztner’s role in the Shoah.
AGAINST ALL ODDS:
The Modern Story of Warsaw's Jews
Agata Rakowiecka is the executive director of the Jewish Community Centre in Warsaw, Poland. She studied at the University of Warsaw, and at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education of the Hebrew University. Agata has been involved with Jewish humanitarian organization "the JDC (The Joint)" since 2008 as an educator and a director of their Jewish summer camp. In 2010/2011, Agata was involved in Arab-Jewish dialogue at the "Beit Hagefen" organization in Haifa, Israel.
Jewish life in Poland had been almost completely lost after the Holocaust. Antisemitism and government policies in communist Poland forced those who survived either to leave the country or to hide their Jewish identity, often from their own children and grandchildren. In 1989, Poland became a democratic country where open dialogue and tolerance for diversity became a value. Certainly, with ups and downs and historical narrative controversies, Poland went from being perceived as a Jewish cemetery to being a place of Jewish rebirth.
Why do the descendants of Holocaust survivors choose to connect with one another and with their Jewishness? What are the main questions and dilemmas of a young growing community, which is only now able to begin defining itself? How does an emerging community relate to a heritage of thousand years of one of the biggest Jewish communities in the world? What is the voice of the 3rd and 4th generation in today’s Poland and how does it manifest itself?
The presentation will focus on the activity of the Jewish Community Center of Warsaw, which answers the needs of today's Jews living in Warsaw with via informal educational programs, support groups, art and integration events and many more. The presentation will emphasize the uniqueness of the Polish Jewish experience, and will present narratives and perspectives on the issues of Jewish identity, how identity is influenced by the past, and what the future will be.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Tragedy of the Holocaust in Hungary
Nina Munk has a Bachelor’s degree in comparative literature, a Master’s degree in French language and literature, and a second Master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, where she was awarded the Philip Greer Scholarship Award for Financial Writing and the New York Financial Writers’ Association C. Norman Stabler Scholarship. Nina is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, as well as a journalist and author whose work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Fortune. She had been awarded many prestigious literary prizes including three Business Journalist of the Year Awards. One of her books, The Idealist, was named a Book of the Year by The Spectator, Forbes, and Bloomberg.
Dr. Ferenc Laczo is an assistant professor in History at University College Maastricht. Ferenc has studied in Berlin, Bielefeld, Budapest, Utrecht, Vienna and Washington, DC., and received his PhD from the Central European University in Budapest. His main research interests lie in political and intellectual history, modern and contemporary European history with a special focus on Central and Eastern Europe in the twentieth century, Jewish history and the history of the Holocaust, and questions of history and memory. Ferenc writes primarily in English and Hungarian, and his books have been reviewed in more than twenty journals.
Max Eisen is an award-winning author, public speaker, and Holocaust educator who travels throughout Canada to share his story with students, teachers, universities, law enforcement personnel, and communities at large. He has worked with the March of the Living, the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. Eisen testified in Germany at the trial of two former SS guards at Auschwitz: Reinhold Hanning (2016) and Oskar Gröning (2015).Both were convicted at their trials. Max has been an active participant in March of the Living, and has journeyed back to Auschwitz-Birkenau 18 times, with thousands of students.
SPEAKING ACROSS THE DIVIDE:
Growing Up in the Shadow of the Holocaust
Dr. Noemie Lopian is the daughter of Survivors Dr Ernst Israel and Renee Bornstein, and the Founder/Director of Holocaust Matters. At 13, Noemie moved from Germany to Manchester, England. She qualified as a doctor, and has since dedicated her time to educating and commemorating the Holocaust, continuing the legacy of her parents. Noemie recently translated her father’s memoirs into a book, The Long Night (The Toby Press: 2016), featured by the BBC, The Guardian and The Jewish Chronicle.
Derek Niemann is a writer and educator specializing in natural history. In 2012, he began researching a family history story, after discovering his grandfather had been a Nazi SS officer. Years of archival research and exploring family memories and photographs produced a complex story of an ordinary man serving a monstrous regime. A Nazi in the Family (Short Books: 2015) has been featured by the BBC, The Telegraph and The Guardian.
In this program, Dr Noemie Lopian, daughter of Holocaust survivors, and Derek Niemann, grandson of a Nazi SS war criminal, discuss their different experiences in the hope it will stem the tide of Holocaust denialism, educate about antisemitism, and provide relevant lessons for a post-memory generation. Noemie Lopian grew up hardly speaking about the Holocaust, even though both of her parents were Survivors. Derek grew up knowing nothing about his connection to the Holocaust until the age of 49, when he found out, to his shock, that his paternal grandfather Karl Niemann was a Nazi war criminal. Derek uncovered the true story of how his grandfather’s “business” used thousands of slave labourers from concentration camps including Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. This program aims to provide an insight into the continuing impact and inherited legacies of the Holocaust across generations, exploring the experiences of both victim and perpetrator through memoir extracts, photographs and memories.
BRINGING BACK THE MEMORY OF POLISH JEWS IN FORMER SHTETELS
Marta Usiekniewicz is the Communications Coordinator at Forum for Dialogue in Warsaw, the largest and oldest Polish non-profit engaging in Polish/Jewish dialogue. She holds a Ph.D. in literature and gender studies from the University of Warsaw, Poland, where she lectures at American Studies Center. She was the recipient of the Fulbright Junior Research Award, which she spent at SUNY Buffalo. She was also an intern at AJC headquarters in New York. She has been working with Forum for Dialogue since 2007.
Forum for Dialogue launched the "School of Dialogue" program in 2008 as a response to a lack of knowledge about history and fate of Jews among Polish students. The diverse Jewish life in the 19th century Eastern Europe and pre-war Poland, the Holocaust and fate of Jews after Liberation, are often only briefly mentioned during history classes in Polish schools. To restore memory about Jewish inhabitants of former shtetls, Forum for Dialogue has already had nearly 10,000 students from about 300 Polish towns complete the series of four intense full-day workshops and come up with their own project commemorating the Jewish residents of the town. The methods of working with students will be discussed during this presentation.
JEWISH "CHILDREN OF WAR" FROM USSR AND DESCENDANTS
Dr. Zelina Iskanderova is a physicist and researcher in the field of interaction of atomic particles, an Associate Professor of the Institute of Aerospace Studies (University of Toronto) and Head of the Department of Space Materials Integrity Testing Laboratory She is involved with the Jewish Russian Community Centre of Ontario, and leads the program "Evening of Jewish Culture," dedicated to the outstanding talents of the Russian and Soviet Jews and their global impact. Zelina cooperates with well-known Jewish scholars, artists, journalists and writers around the world, including the Yiddish writer Boris Sandler (former editor for many years of Yiddish “Vorwärts" publication in New York), Alexander Gorodnitsky (whose film "In Search of Yiddish," Zelina represented to the Toronto Jewish Film Festival), and well-known journalist Leonid Makhlis.
Lana Barkan is a communications and marketing specialist, TV host and producer, journalist, and promotional writer. Lana is passionate about Russian community initiatives, and collaborates with the Toronto Russian Film Festival, Russian Musical Drama Theatre, and similar educational centres. Lana also provides training in speech writing and public speaking.
This session features Russian-speaking panelists who survived WWII during their childhoods. Speakers will discuss their memories of evacuations (from the Front areas/former Soviet Union/Siege of Leningrad), liberation, and post-war lives. Panelists will share personal documents and photos, and perform songs and poems that they remember, from their childhoods during the war. Panelists will be joined by their Descendants (children and grandchildren) to assist with Russian-English or Yiddish-English translation.
LIFE WILL SMILE
The Holocaust in Greece & the 275 Jews of Zakynthos
"Life Will Smile" is a 40-minute documentary based on the incredible true story of an entire Jewish community surviving WWII, thanks to the brave actions of the people on the Greek island of Zakynthos.
When SS officer Kommandant Lutt arrived on the island of Zakynthos in 1943 to implement “The Final Solution”, the fate of the island’s 275 Jewish inhabitants rested upon the shoulders of the island's young Mayor, Lucas Karrer and Bishop Chrysostomos. They were given 24-hours to hand over a detailed list with all the names, addresses and possessions of the islands' Jews, destined for deportation to the Nazi extermination camps. They ultimately trick the SS and together with the rest of the Zakynthiots, manage to save the entire Jewish population. This is widely accepted to be the only Jewish community in the whole of Europe to survive the Holocaust intact, without losing a single one of its members.
For their courage Mayor Karrer & Bishop Chrysostomos received Yad Vashem's honor of “Righteous Among the Nations” in 1978 and Zakynthos was given the affectionate name of “the Island of the Righteous”. The award-winning documentary “Life Will Smile” is exclusively narrated by one of the Jewish survivors of Zakynthos, Haim Konstantini, who was a 9-year-old boy at the time. The dramatic events are seen through his innocent eyes. It is a suspenseful, emotionally charged journey of salvation, where ordinary people defy the odds and survive. “Life Will Smile” brings home the powerful message that solidarity, tolerance and courageous leadership are, once again, needed today as much as they have ever been.