In 1977, then Vanderbilt University Chaplain, Beverly Asbury, conceived what has become the longest running Holocaust Lecture Series at any American university. The theme for this year’s Thirtieth Annual Holocaust Lecture Series—Broken Silence—reaffirms our long-standing commitment to expand the frontiers of our conversation about the Holocaust and other genocides by providing a stage for new perspectives, new questions, and for conveying those narratives that have struggled to find a voice or an audience. Hence, in these lectures, we will listen to the voices of victimized Jews as well as Kurds and Armenians, and, in the process, we find the courage to confront the question of “racial cleansing” on American soil. At the same time, we do not let the testimonies from men and women drown out the stories recounted by children, whose soft voices touch us deeply and reverberate loudly, about life under the Nazis. In opening ourselves to the full spectrum of sound, and bringing more witnesses to speak about our human capacity for deep good and deep evil, we discover that the terrible crimes of the Holocaust and other genocides are not someone else’s stories, nor are they the stories of particular people, places, or time, far beyond our own communities. Their stories emerge as our stories because they speak to us and about every one of us. Indeed, we hope that long after the Broken Silence, these voices will continue to echo not only in these lecture halls, but within ourselves.
On behalf of the Planning Committee, we cordially invite you to attend the films, lectures and discussions of the Thirtieth Annual Holocaust Lecture Series.
—co-chairs, Shaiya Baer and Irek Kusmierczyk