CORVALLIS - For the 18th consecutive year, Oregon State University will host a Holocaust Memorial Week program in April, in conjunction with the City of Corvallis and the 509J School District.
This one is special, says OSU history professor Paul Kopperman, one of the organizers.
On Monday, April 19, Oregon State graduate Walter Plywaski will return to campus for the first time since he graduated in 1957 and describe his horrifying experiences in a Polish ghetto and later in World War II concentration camps, where he saw his mother taken away to a gas chamber and his father beaten to death in front of him.
His talk, "A Survivor's Story," will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, April 19, in OSU's LaSells Stewart Center. It is free and open to the public.
Born Wladyslaw Plywacki in Lodz, Poland, in 1929, Plywaski and his family were forced into the ghetto there 10 years later. He and a stepbrother - who later would precede him to OSU - managed to remain together in a series of camps, finally making their escape from Dachau.
"Walter's story is remarkable and his return for the first time to the OSU campus should make this a very special evening and homecoming," Kopperman said.
Three other free public events are scheduled during the annual Holocaust Memorial program.
On Tuesday, April 20, William L. Brustein will give a lecture titled "Prelude to Holocaust: Jew-Hatred in Interwar Europe." The talk begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Construction and Engineering Auditorium of LaSells Stewart Center.
Brustein is the director of the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittburgh and author of two books - one about the origins of the Nazi Party, the other on anti-Semitism in Europe.
On Wednesday, April 21, Portland musician Jack Falk will present a concert called "Falicja," during which he will perform a group of musical selections and read poems that recall the ghettoes and campus of the Holocaust period. The concert is scheduled for the Benton Hall band room beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Falk hosts a weekly radio program on Yiddish music. His musical presentation will include selections from the Terezin (Theresienstadt) concentration campus; works by folk poet Mordecai Gebirtig, who was killed at the Krakow ghetto; compositions that were created and performed at the Lodz ghetto; and other pieces. He will be accompanied on the violin by two Holocaust survivors.
The weeklong program will conclude on Thursday, April 22, with a panel discussion of OSU students from southeast Asia who will discuss the regime of Pol Pot, during which more than a million Cambodians were slain by the Khmer Rouge. The OSU students will share their stories or those of their families during the event, which begins at 7 p.m. in Gilfillan Auditorium.
Following the panel discussion, a screening of the film "The Killing Fields" will take place.
"The Holocaust Memorial week regularly includes a day of events highlighting another modern episode of mass murder," Kopperman said. "The intention is to point out the fact that the tendency of governments and nations to target minorities for elimination represents a broad and ongoing problem."