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HMW 2012

OSU Holocaust Memorial Week 2012

The 26th annual observance of Holocaust Memorial Week was held from April 16 through April 20, 2012.  Oregon State University, in association with the City of Corvallis, the Benton County Public Library, Beit Am, and School District 509-J, continues to undertake this obligation from a shared desire to combat bigotry of all kinds and foster a respect for diversity.  One way to accomplish this is by promoting an awareness of the Holocaust, one of the most horrific historical indicators of the high cost of prejudice.  While the Holocaust is the main focus of the annual program, Memorial Week regularly includes an event that is devoted to a different genocidal campaign or to comparative genocide.   The 2012 event had significant local relevance as it discussed the treatment of the Tolawa Tribe of Oregon and California in early United States History.

In 2012, most of the events during Holocaust Memorial Week took place on the OSU campus, but there was also be an exclusive museum exhibit and public dramatic performance held at the Benton County Public Library.   All events noted in this program were free and open to the public. 


Always remember that love is the most beautiful light in life.


Monday, April 2-Monday, April 30,

Benton County Public Library, Corvallis

Public Exhibit: Letters to Sala – A Young Woman’s Life in Nazi Labor Camps


In 1940, Sala Garncarz, a sixteen-year-old Polish Jew, was sent to a labor camp, the first of seven where she was to be enslaved during World War II.  Although she survived the war, many of her closest friends and family members – including her parents and three siblings -- perished in the Holocaust. 

Sala’s survival is in itself remarkable, but even more remarkable is the fact that she was able to hide and protect more than 300 letters that she received while in the camps.  Many years later, Sala, by then a mother and grandmother, gave this collection of letters to her daughter, Ann. Letters to Sala Cover




The exhibit at the Benton County Public Library will highlight many of these letters, and will also include photos and information on the Holocaust and on Sala’s own wartime experiences.  

Special note: Ann Kirschner (see next) will be at the exhibit 3:00-4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 16.  This will provide the public with a good opportunity to interact with her.


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Ann and Sala Kirschner


Monday, April 16, 7:30 p.m.,

C&E Auditorium,

LaSells Stewart Center

Public Talk -- Ann Kirschner, Sala

 Ann Kirschner will discuss the wartime experiences of her mother, Sala (see above), and the importance of the unique collection of letters that she saved and later passed down to her children.  Professor Kirschner is the author of a highly acclaimed biography of her mother, Sala’s Gift, and is the University Dean of Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York.

(Sala Garncarz Kirschner with her daughter, Ann Kirschner)

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Sala's Gift Cover


Tuesday, April 17, 7:00 p.m.,

Benton County Public Library, Corvallis

Public Performance – Arlene Hutton, Sala’s Story

(directed by Elizabeth Helman)


Sala's Story, Arlene Hutton's adaptation of Kirchner's Sala's Gift, tells the story of young Sala's experiences growing up in Nazi work camps. As she tries to maintain contact with her family and friends, she hides hundreds of letters and keeps a secret diary – all precious historical documents that survived thanks to her ingenuity. Hutton’s drama fluidly moves through the events of Sala's life as she is transferred from camp to camp, forging relationships and gaining and losing friends along the way. Much of the play's text comes directly from Sala's letters. History and drama become fused together in this play, which will be staged in the Benton County Library in the same space as the exhibit of the actual letters.   Sala’s Story is suitable for younger audiences, as well as for adults.

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Wednesday, April 18, 4:00 p.m.,

La Raza Room, OSU Memorial Union

Public Talk: Tomasz M. Giebultowicz, Operation Harvest Festival 

Tomasz Giebultowicz

In the fall of 1943, the Germans decided to kill all Jews in the three camps of the Lublin District in Poland.  This campaign of murder was given the euphemistic name of “Operation Harvest Festival” (“Aktion Erntefest”).   On November 3, 18-20,000 Jews were massacred at Majdanek and a slightly higher number were slain at two nearby labor camps.  Even given the enormity of the Holocaust, few if any massacres on this scale occurred in such a brief span of time.  Among the prisoners at Majdanek at the time of the massacre was a young Pole, Joseph Giebultowicz.  Since he was a political prisoner, rather than a Jew, he was spared, and although he suffered greatly in the camps he survived the war, and eventually came to America.  Years later, he communicated to his son, Tomasz, what he had witnessed at Majdanek on November 3, 1943.  On April 18, Tomasz, a member of the Physics faculty at Oregon State University, will discuss Operation Harvest Festival and review what his father told him of that massacre.



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The Great Seal of the Tolawa Deeni Nation (Designed by Sue Springer and Illahe Tileworks)


Wednesday, April 18, 7:30 p.m.,

C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center

Concert: Jan Michael Looking Wolf, “One Heart”

Public Talk: Benjamin Madley, Genocide in America? The Assault on the Tolowa Tribe of Oregon and California 

Benjamin Madley, a postdoctoral fellow in History and Native American Studies at Dartmouth, is a young scholar who has already played a major role in genocide studies.  He focuses on “frontier genocide,” that is, mass assaults on indigenous peoples, whether by colonizers who covet the native peoples’ land, local government officials, or army units.  Dr. Madley has written about a number of indigenous groups that were targeted for genocide, including the Yuki of California, Aboriginal Tasmanians, and the Herero of Namibia. He is now transforming his award-winning doctoral dissertation, an examination of genocide in California, 1846-1873, into a book for Yale University Press. 

His talk on April 18 dealt primarily with the campaigns against the Tolowa, who between 1851 and 1856 lost more than 80% of their population, but he placed this history in the context of the wider assault on California Indians, which cost as many as 13,000 lives.



Jan Michael Looking Wolf



Prior to Dr. Madley’s talk, Jan Michael Looking Wolf will perform on the Native American flute.  The title of his concert, which will take place 7:30-7:45 p.m., will be “One Heart.”  A recipient of many awards and recognitions, Jan Michael Looking Wolf teaches Native American flute at Oregon State University and has released over 20 CD’s





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Eric Sundquist


Thursday, April 19, 7:30 p.m.,

C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center

Public Talk: Eric Sundquist, The Historian’s Anvil, the Novelist’s Crucible: Holocaust Literature and the Uses of History

Literature by design has a complex and often vexed relation to the history from which it emerges and seeks to represent.  In the case of the Holocaust, where the accurate representation of historical fact would seem to carry a special moral burden, the problem of imaginative recreation is more acute.  And yet, many writers, and a few historians, have argued that literature has an important role to play in our understanding of the events.  The lecture will consider these questions through an examination of a range of European, American, and Israeli writers.

Eric J. Sundquist, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities, is a member of the Department of English at Johns Hopkins University.  A prolific scholar, Professor Sundquist focuses on African-American, Jewish-American, and Holocaust literature.  His many publications include the award-winning Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America.  During the past several years he has engaged in a rigorous examination of how the Holocaust has been depicted in literature, and findings that stem from this project will illuminate his talk on April 19.

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