OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Holocaust Memorial Week Begins April 28 at OSU; Extermination Camp Survivor to Speak

04/14/2008

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will observe Holocaust Memorial Week April 28 to May 1 with a series of events that includes an appearance by a Holocaust survivor who was part of the historic Jewish uprising at the Sobibor extermination camp in Poland.

This 22nd annual OSU observance also will include a look at another historic event, the Armenian genocide of 1915-16.

“OSU, in association with the city of Corvallis and Corvallis School District 509-J, has undertaken this obligation in the belief that educational institutions can do a lot to combat bigotry of all kinds,” said Paul Kopperman, a professor of history at OSU and chair of the Holocaust Memorial Committee.

The OSU events begin Monday, April 28, with a free public lecture by Pearl Oliner, research director of the Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute at Humboldt State University. Her talk, “Very Religious and Irreligious Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe: What Was the Difference and What Difference Does It Make?” begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Austin Auditorium at LaSells Stewart Center.

Oliner will speak on the mental characteristics of altruists who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. With her husband, Sam (a Holocaust survivor), she wrote in 1988 “The Altruistic Personality,” which is one of the most cited works on rescuers in Holocaust-era Europe.

On Tuesday, April 29, the play “The Diary of Anne Frank” will be performed starting at 7 p.m. at Crescent Valley High School’s theater. This is the version of the famous play as revised by Wendy Kesselman, which provides a starker view of life in the secret annex than did the original that debuted in 1955. The April 29 performance is produced by Albany Civic Theater and is co-sponsored by the OSU Holocaust Program and School District 509-J. The cost is $10 or $7 for students and seniors. Tickets are limited and can be purchased by going to https://www.ticketturtle.com/index.php?theatre=csd

Thomas Blatt will give a free public talk on Wednesday, April 30, on “Genocide and Resistance in the Holocaust.” The presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Austin Auditorium of the LaSells Stewart Center. Blatt will discuss his experiences during World War II and the broader framework that shaped those experiences. He endured many hardships during these years, particularly at Sobibor, an extermination camp where it is thought that about 250,000 Jews were gassed.

But Blatt also participated in the uprising and escape of October 1943, an event that is one of the best-known acts of defiance by the Jews during the Holocaust. He was one of about 300 prisoners to escape from Sobibor; only about 50 survived the war, and only a few are known still to be alive. Over the past 30 years, Blatt has become established as the main source of information on the escape and he has published two books, “Sobibor: The Forgotten Revolt” and his memoir, “From the Ashes of Sobibor.”

The final event of Holocaust Memorial Week is a free lecture by Taner Akçam, on “The Armenian Genocide and the Reasons for Turkish Denial.” It begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 1, in the C&E Auditorium at LaSells Stewart Center. A Turkish historian teaching at the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota., Akçam has done groundbreaking research into the campaign to destroy the Armenian minority of the Ottoman Empire in 1915-16. His numerous publications include the recent study, “A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility.”

Akçam will provide compelling background on both the scope of the incidents and the role played by the Ottoman government in planning it and carrying it through.

For more information on all the events, go to www.oregonstate.edu/dept/holocaust