Junior Spearheads Holocaust Remembrance Events

Posted: March 18, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Elie Wiesel, American novelist and Holocaust survivor, described his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps in his memoir, “Night.”

He stated, “Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never.”

To commemorate this event in history, the Mason University Scholars and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) have created a series of Holocaust Remembrance events titled “Never Forget.”

Spearheading the series of events is Megan Fowler, a junior with a double major in history and theater. She developed the idea after a summer internship in the Survivors Registry of the USHMM. With the help of Erek Perry, director of the University Scholars Program, and Erica Hernandez, administrative assistant for the program, Fowler received funding from the Social Programming Fund and support from Mason Community Outreach.

“As an intern at the museum I received so many e-mails about survivors of the Holocaust who had passed away,” says Fowler. “I realized that many people at Mason haven’t even been to the museum, so I thought if I could bring the museum to them they couldn’t make any excuses. For many students, history seems to be so far in the past and intangible that they don’t think it’s relevant.”

The first event in the series will be a showing of the 1993 film “Schindler’s List” on Monday, March 24, at 7 p.m. in Student Union Building II, Rooms 5, 6 and 7. Based on the book “Schindler’s Ark” by Thomas Keneally, “Schindler’s List” is a biographical film telling the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than one thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust.

The second event is a testimony by Holocaust survivor Manya Friedman on Wednesday, March 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Mason Hall, Rooms D3 A and B. Friedman, who was born in the small Polish town of Chmielnik, moved to Sosnowiec near the German border when she was 13. When German troops invaded Poland, she and her family were selected for forced labor.

After her family was deported to Auschwitz, Friedman and other prisoners were transported to the Ravensbrück concentration camp and later to the Rechlin camp, where she was rescued by the Swedish Red Cross in April 1945. In 1950, she emigrated from Sweden to the United States. She is currently a volunteer at the USHMM and is an active member of the museum’s speakers bureau.

Marion Deshmukh, associate professor in the Department of History and Art History, will moderate the event.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Other events that Fowler has in mind for the future are to bring a panel of WWII veterans to campus to discuss their experiences, show another film related to the Holocaust and bring Mason alumni who work at the museum as historians to campus to discuss various topics.

For more information about the Holocaust Remembrance events, contact Megan Fowler at mfowler1@gmu.edu.

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