CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will observe Holocaust Memorial Week April 16-20 with a series of events, including an exhibit of letters from Holocaust survivor Sala Garncarz, a theatrical performance highlighting Garncarz’s struggles in a concentration camp, a talk about the genocide of native peoples and a concert by an acclaimed flutist.
This observance is the 26th in the annual series, which is a collaboration of OSU, the Corvallis/Benton County Public Library, the City of Corvallis, Beit Am, and School District 509-J.
The partners are undertaking the event “in the belief that educational institutions can do much to combat bigotry of all kinds, and to foster respect for diversity, by promoting an awareness of the Holocaust,” said Paul Kopperman, OSU professor of history and chair of the Holocaust Memorial Committee.
One of the highlights of this year’s program is a public exhibit based on a collection of more than 300 letters dating from 1940-45 from Holocaust survivor Garncarz. The exhibit, “Letters to Sala – A Young Woman’s Life in Nazi Labor Camps” will be at the Corvallis/Benton County Library throughout the month of April.
Ann Kirschner, the daughter of Sala Garncarz, will be at the exhibit from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday, April 16, and will answer questions from the public.
For a complete schedule and descriptions of the events, go to: http://oregonstate.edu/dept/holocaust/index.php
The program will also include the following events, all of which are free and open to the public:
Monday, April 16, 7:30 p.m., C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center
Ann Kirschner will discuss the wartime experiences of her mother and the importance of the unique collection of letters that she saved and later passed down to her children. Kirschner is the dean of Macaulay Honors College of the City University of New York and author of an acclaimed biography of her mother, “Sala’s Gift.”
Tuesday, April 17, 7 p.m., Corvallis/Benton County Public Library
“Sala's Story,” Arlene Hutton's dramatic adaptation of Kirchner's book, “Sala's Gift,” tells the story of young Garncarz's experiences growing up in Nazi work camps. Much of the play's text comes directly from her letters. History and drama become fused together in this play, which is suitable for younger audiences, as well as for adults. OSU Theatre faculty member Elizabeth Helman directs.
Wednesday, April 18, 4 p.m., La Raza Room, OSU Memorial Union
Tomasz M. Giebultowicz will speak on “Operation Harvest Festival” - In the fall of 1943, the Germans killed 40,000 Jews in three camps of the Lublin District in Poland. This campaign of murder was given the euphemistic name of “Operation Harvest Festival.” 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 one of these camps was young Joseph Giebultowicz. Since he was a political prisoner and not Jewish, he was spared and eventually came to America. Years later, he told his son, Tomasz, what he had witnessed. Tomasz, a member of the physics faculty at OSU, will discuss Operation Harvest Festival and what his father told him of that massacre.
Wednesday, April 18, 7:30 p.m., C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center
Concert titled “One Heart” by flutist Jan Michael Looking Wolf; followed by Benjamin Madley’s talk on “Genocide in America? The Assault on the Tolowa Tribe of Oregon and California.”
Madley, a postdoctoral fellow in history and Native American studies at Dartmouth, focuses on “frontier genocide,” or mass assaults on indigenous people. His talk will deal primarily with the campaigns against the Tolowa tribe, who lost more than 80 percent of their population between 1851 and 1856, but he also will place this history in the context of the wider assault on California Indians.
Prior to Madley’s talk, Jan Michael Looking Wolf will perform on the Native American flute. Looking Wolf teaches Native American flute at OSU and has released more than 20 albums.
Thursday, April 19, 7:30 p.m., C&E Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center
Eric Sundquist will speak on “The Historian’s Anvil, the Novelist’s Crucible: Holocaust Literature and the Uses of History.”
Sundquist, Andrew W. Mellon professor of the humanities at Johns Hopkins University, will discuss the ways the Holocaust has been depicted in literature and examine the issue of imaginative recreation of an event that carries such a heavy moral burden to depict accurately. Sundquist is known for his scholarship on African-American and Jewish-American literature, as well as on the Holocaust, and his many publications include the award-winning book, “Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, Post-Holocaust America.”