Holocaust discussion still imperative as series celebrates its silver anniversary

September 26, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The events of the last year give new relevance to the study of the Holocaust, say organizers of Vanderbilt’s 25th annual Holocaust Lecture Series, which is the oldest sustained lecture series at a college or university devoted to the mass effort to exterminate Jews.

“As the aftermath of Sept. 11 and the persecution and genocides that continue to threaten ethnic and religious groups around the world sadly demonstrate, reflection on the events and implications of the Holocaust remains important today,” said Jay Geller, senior lecturer in the Vanderbilt Divinity School and co-chair of the 2002 Vanderbilt Holocaust Lecture Series.

The series began in 1979 when then University Chaplain Beverly Asbury brought people from the University and the community together to create a meaningful dialogue about ethical and religious issues, choices and their consequences in the wake of the Holocaust. The University Chaplain’s office continues the tradition in this year’s series, “Living On … a Tradition of Reflection,” exploring, through art, film, music and dialogue, the lives and works of Holocaust victims as well as of those who survived.

The silver anniversary affords an appropriate opportunity to “reflect on the past of the series and of our society as well as look ahead to the future of our community,” Geller said.

Ruth Tanner, executive director of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, credits Asbury’s efforts in the 70s with laying the foundation for the creation of the commission and says discussion of the Holocaust continues to be imperative 57 years after the liberation of Auschwitz.

“Whenever one group believes with single-minded passion in an idea that requires them to kill others to further their own ends, it should remind us all of the responsibilities we owe one another as the price of living in an open, democratic society,” said Tanner.

“Those involved have sometimes been very ordinary people who saw or knew something was not right but said and did nothing,” she said. “It’s important to remember how small sacrifices of freedoms made in the name of safety can dampen our capacity for compassion and lead to tragedies of enormous magnitude.

We want America to ask what it means when you know but let the opportunity to act pass you by?” she said.

Schedule of Events for 2002
All events are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, Oct. 1 to Thursday, Oct. 3 (8 a.m.-11 p.m.) and
Friday, Oct. 4, (8 a.m.-1 p.m.), in Sarratt Student Center
Special Installation: Director Claude Lanzmann’s critically acclaimed Shoah will be screened continuously in the Stonehenge Media Lounge. Using no archival footage or recreations, Shoah is an examination of survivors and guards of the Nazi concentration camps. The film also includes conversations with local villagers, bystanders to an elaborately organized extermination of 11 million people including 6 million Jews.

Wednesday, Oct. 2, in Sarratt Cinema
7 p.m. Screening of A Visitor From the Living, by Lanzmann. In this powerful 65-minute conversation with a “perfectly civilized” gentleman who happened to give a clean bill of health to the sites of mass murder, Lanzmann explores how the Holocaust happened in a world filled with “decent” human beings. The film’s subject, Maurice Rossel is the only International Red Cross representative to visit Auschwitz and was leader of the committee that inspected the “model ghetto” and transit camp Theresienstadt.

8:30 p.m. Screening of Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 p.m. by Lanzmann. The title refers to the place and time of a successful uprising by Jewish prisoners in the Sobibor death camp. The film is drawn from an interview with Yehuda Lerner who, as a 16 year-old boy having already escaped from eight other camps, was one of 47 prisoners who escaped and survived.

Thursday, Oct. 3, in Langford Auditorium
5 p.m. Reception in the lobby.
6 p.m. Musical performance of “El Malei Rachamin” (Merciful God) composed by Vanderbilt professor Michael Alec Rose and performed by Amy Jarman, Christian Teal, Cassandra Lee and Bradley Mansell.

Keynote address, “A Conversation with Claude Lanzmann.” With his nine-and-a-half hour 1985 documentary, Shoah, Lanzmann created what many consider the preeminent oral history of the Holocaust. The 1997 A Visitor From the Living and 2001’s Sobibor, October 14, 1043, 4 p.m. continued his work documenting both the horrors and heroism that occurred during the Nazi regime. Longtime editor of the leading French journal of thought and opinion, Les Temps Modernes, Lanzmann will discuss his and other directors’ Holocaust films as well as other topics raised by the audience.

Thursday, Oct. 3 to Wednesday, Oct. 30, in Sarratt Gallery
9 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays,
10 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends
Special Installation: “GYORGY KADAR: Survivor of Death, Witness to Life” an exhibit of drawings from the Vanderbilt Holocaust Art collection depicts the horror the artist witnessed as a survivor of five concentration camps. The works come from two very different cycles by the artist, one completed in 1945 and the other in 1988.

Sunday, Oct 6, in Sarratt Cinema
3 p.m. The works of artist Gyorgy Kadar and the art of the Holocaust will be examined by Lon Nuell, of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and professor at Middle Tennessee State University. A reception in Sarratt Gallery will follow.

Monday, Oct. 7 to Friday, Nov. 15, in the Schulman Center
Special Installation: “Living on … A Tradition of Reflection,” an exhibit of materials and posters from 25 years of Vanderbilt’s Holocaust Lecture Series.

Monday, Oct 14, in Sarratt Cinema
7 p.m. Screening and discussion of the film Paragraph 175. This award-winning documentary from Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, directors of The Celluloid Closet and The Times of Harvey Milk, chronicles the lives of survivors of gay persecution under the Third Reich. Paragraph 175 was an anti-homosexuality law that preexisted and survived the Nazi regime. The film traces Germany’s progression from the wide-open Weimer era and Hitler’s initial “don’t ask, don’t tell” tolerance to the roundup and concentration camp internment of gay men as “degenerates.” Rupert Everett narrates the film, which won numerous awards including the director’s award for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and the Forum of New Cinema award at the Berlin International Film Festival for “uncovering amazing stories of courage buried by history.” Gregg Horowitz, professor of philosophy, will moderate discussion following the film.

Monday, Oct 14 to Friday, Oct. 18, in the Schulman Center
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Special Installation: “Vorbei…Beyond Recall: A Record of Jewish Musical Life in Nazi Berlin, 1933-1938.” The exhibition features the sounds and voices of Jewish artists, from Klezmer to classical to cantorial, performed and recorded during the Third Reich and preserved in this new multimedia collection. The presentation will run continuously.

Wednesday, Oct. 23, in Turner Hall, Blair School of Music
7:45 p.m. Sherith Israel’s Klezmer Kids with Jim Pendergast will perform a selection of Jewish music.
8 p.m. The variety of music composed and performed by Jews in Germany in the 1930’s will be explored by Michael Rose, Blair associate professor of composition, in a talk focused on the everyday life and culture of European Jewry before its destruction.

Monday, Oct. 28, in Sarratt Cinema
7 p.m. “Teaching the Holocaust.” This panel will discuss how and why we teach about the events of the Holocaust and their implications for today. Panelists include Holocaust Series founder and University Chaplain emeritus Beverly Asbury; Sara Eigen, Vanderbilt assistant professor of German; Paul Fleming, high school teacher and author of a curriculum guide for The Holocaust and other Genocides; John Roth, Russell K. Pitzer professor of philosophy at Claremont McKenna College and Helmut W. Smith, Vanderbilt associate professor of history and editor of The Holocaust and other Genocides and author of The Butchers Tale. The event is held in Asbury’s honor.

Tuesday, Nov. 5, in the Schulman Center
7 p.m. Arnost Lustig, one of the Czech Republic’s most distinguished and charismatic writers will present “Tales from a Scholar, Screenwriter, Storyteller, Survivor.” As a child Lustig survived the horrors of three concentration camps including Auschwitz. His honors include a National Jewish Book Award, an Emmy and Czech Republic’s prestigious Karel Capek Award for Literary Achievement.

Wednesday, Nov. 6, in Sarratt Cinema
7 p.m. Screening and discussion of Fighter, the award-winning film by director Amir Bar-Lev. Boxer Jan Wiener and author Arnost Lustig, both Czech Holocaust survivors, reminisce about love, sex and the test of friendship faced during their escape from the Nazis, through Prague, Slovenia and Italy. Lustig will discuss the film following the screening.

Wednesday, Nov. 13, in Schulman Center
8 p.m. Holocaust survivor Ruth Kluger will read from and discuss her critically acclaimed memoir Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered. From her middle-class Jewish childhood in Vienna, Still Alive tells the story of her experiences in three concentration camps and ultimately to her arrival in New York on her 16th birthday and life in postwar-America. Translated into many languages, the book has been a best-seller across Europe and winner of prizes including Germany’s Thomas Mann prize and the French Prix Memoir de la Shoah. Her recent English version was declared “One of the ten best books of the year” by the Washington Post Book World.

Parking is available for events in Sarratt and the Schulman Center after 5 p.m. in parking lots 16 and 25 off 25th Avenue. Parking for Langford is available in the Medical Center garage and the 25th Avenue garage. Parking for Blair is available in Capers Garage at the corner of 24th and Capers Avenues; use the capers Avenue Entrance.

For additional information on any of these events contact Debra Flowers, 615-322-2457 or debra.j.flowers@vanderbilt.edu.

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