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Panel of Holocaust survivors highlights 2008 Vanderbilt Holocaust Lecture Series

Sep. 17, 2008, 11:50 AM

A panel discussion by Vanderbilt alumni who survived the Holocaust will highlight the 31st Annual Vanderbilt University Holocaust Lecture Series.

The series, the longest continuous Holocaust lecture series at an American university, will take the theme this year of "(over) Sites of Memory" and examine places that are infused with memories of genocide and the challenge to find effective ways to honor these memories. The series will include sessions on the genocide of American Indians, a documentary film about Israeli pornographic novels set in concentration camps and a ballet performed by the StillPoint Dance Theatre.

A group of Vanderbilt students will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Oct. 17-19. All the events on the Vanderbilt campus are free and open to the public, and podcasts of selected events will be posted at

The schedule:

Sunday, Oct. 12, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Martha Ingram Rivers Center for the Performing Arts at Blair School of Music
Voices from the Ground: A Modern Ballet Dedicated to the Victims of the Jewish Holocaust in World War II performed by the StillPoint Dance Theatre. Choreographed by StillPoint Dance Theatre founder and artistic director Sharon Perry, Voices from the Ground is the story of two young lovers whose hope for a long life together is tragically cut short and of a lonely mother who loses her only child – a moving story of life, love, loss, persecution, and defiance set against the backdrops of World War II and the Jewish Holocaust. The piece, on which Perry collaborated with Lithuanian composer Geraldis Povilaitis to create an original score, is dedicated to those who survived the horrors of the Holocaust and to the memory of those who did not.

Thursday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m. in Sarratt Cinema
Spain and the Holocaust, a lecture by Maureen Tobin Stanley, associate professor of Spanish language, literature and culture at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Stanley has spent her career examining Spanish voices of resistance, exile and deportation. Though 10,000 to 15,000 Spaniards were imprisoned in Nazi camps with the implicit endorsement of Francisco Franco’s regime, their experience in concentration camps has been largely suppressed. As part of contemporary Spain’s critical, literary and current legislative drive to recover its democratic past and renounce Franco’s totalitarianism, Stanley’s research seeks to demonstrate the cultural relevance of these frightening realities.

Tuesday, Oct. 28, 7 p.m. in Sarratt Cinema

American Holocaust: The Destruction of America’s Native Peoples, a lecture by David Stannard, professor and chair of the American Studies Department at the University of Hawaii. Stannard, author of American Holocaust, asserts that the European and white American destruction of the native peoples of the Americas was the most substantial act of genocide in world history. A combination of atrocities and imported plagues resulted in the death of roughly 95 percent of the native population in the Americas. Stannard argues that the perpetrators of the American Holocaust operated from the same ideological source as the architects of the Nazi Holocaust. That ideology remains alive today in American foreign policy, Stannard avers.

Sunday, Nov. 2, 6 p.m. in Sarratt Cinema
Screening of documentary film Stalags with discussion to follow. A fascinating documentary film exploring the early 1960s phenomenon in Israel where short novels detailing sensational tales of the torture and rape of male concentration camp prisoners by female Nazi guards rapidly rose from marginal pulp reading to mass-market popularity and thereby breached the taboo of discussing the Holocaust in that country. Discussion moderated by Jay Geller, assistant professor of modern Jewish culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

Sunday, Nov. 9, 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of The Commons

Escape from Destruction: Four Holocaust Survivors and Refugees. This program features four Vanderbilt alumni who were barely teens when World War II began. Inge Smith and Fred Westfield fled their native Germany before its gates slammed shut. Walter Ziffer and Max Notowitz were trapped inside the Nazi regime and survived brutal conditions. Panelists will share stories and answer questions from the audience.

Tuesday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m. in Saratt Cinema
The Price Tag of Peace, a lecture by David A. Andelman, editor of the World Policy Journal. Andelman is a veteran foreign and domestic correspondent and former editor for The New York Times, CBS News, and Bloomberg, and most recently executive editor of His most recent book, A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today, deals with the roots of the Holocaust in Europe. His lecture will focus on one aspect – the American corporate profiteers who often became quite wealthy on the outcome of World War I. He will discuss the Treaty of Versailles and the hyperinflation, political instability and hatred of the Western victors of World War I that were the basis for Adolf Hitler’s unchecked rise to power.

Sunday, Nov. 16, 6 p.m. in Sarratt Cinema
Art and Remembrance – Connecting the Past and the Present, a lecture by Renata Stih, artist and professor at the University of Applied Sciences, Berlin, and Frieder Schnock, artist and art historian. Stih and Schnock have spent more than 15 years redefining the concept and function of a traditional memorial. By inserting their work into the public space, they have built visceral art into the fabric of Germany. Their proposal for its national Holocaust memorial incorporated contemporary bus shelters, timetables and buses leaving regularly for sites throughout the former Nazi Germany. Project BUS STOP sought to dismantle the notion of a national memorial on its own ground, instead insisting that memory inhabit the Holocaust’s sprawling stage. This presentation is co-sponsored by the Department of Art.

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Media Contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS