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Current Series

41st Holocaust Lecture Series 2018-19

Spring Semester, 2019

1) United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Day: Tom Wood

Monday, January 28, 2019, at 7 PM
Sarratt Cinema

Polish born Jan Karski was one of the first people to report an eyewitness account of the Nazi Holocaust to the West. Tom Wood served as his biographer and is the author of the b ook, “KLarski: How One Man Tried to Stop the Holocaust.” Jan karski was a liaison officer for the Polish underground during WWII and an eyewitness to the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto and concentration campus in Poland. Mr. Wood will share this hero’s story along with his personal recollections of Karski.

2) Jan 14-Feb 28, 2019, at Sarratt Gallery: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Event

The 75th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising recognizes the largest and symbolically most important Jewish uprising in German-occupied Europe. This exhibit tells the stories of the leaders of the uprising and survivors who lived through the heroic resistance.

The exhibit pays tribute to the 750 Jewish fighters who led the largest resistance effort in German-occupied Poland during World War II. Among those honored are three Chicago area Survivors: David Figman, a fighter with the ZOB resistance; Barbara Zyskind Steiner, a medic who tended to the wounded; and Estelle Laughlin, the daughter of a Jewish resistance leader.

3) Genocide, Hate Speech and Social Media: Responses and Interventions with Rachel Brown

Thursday, February 7, 2019, at 12-1:30 PM
Vanderbilt Divinity School Reading Room

This will be a lunch-and-learn training session with Rachel Brown, an expert on counteracting hate/dangerous speech, violence prevention, and civic engagement. She is the founder of OverZero whose mission is to reduce, prevent, and create long-term societal resilience to violence. Ms. Brown will share techniques and strategies for resisting division and diffusing hate and dangerous speech today.

She holds a BA in international relations with a focus on global conflict cooperation and justice from Tufts University, where she conducted international research on the relationships between power structures, corruption, violence, and poverty. While serving as a fellow for the United States holocaust Memorial Museum, she created a guide for practitioners seeking to counter the impact of inflammatory hate speech. The guide sets out key concepts, strategies, and tools for designing speech interventions that are based on sound analysis, clear goals, best practices, and accurate risk assessment. (Co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Divinity School)

4) Agnes Grunwald-Spier: Women Heroes of the Holocaust

Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at 5 PM
Student Life Center Board of Trust Room
310 25th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37240

Agnes Grunwald-Spier was born in Budapest in July 1944. She and her mother were sent to the ghetto there in November 1944 and were liberated in January 1945. A former civil servant, she holds degrees in History and Politics and Holocaust Studies, and was a founding trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews for 15 years, a member of the Architects’ Registration Board and a Justice of the Peace for 30 years.

Ms. Grunwald-Spier currently lives in London. She was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New year Honours List for her work as a Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Trustee and for services to Holocaust awareness.

Ms. Grunwald-Spier is the author of three books, Women’s Experiences in the Holocaust, Who Betrayed the Jews? and The Other Schindlers. (Co-sponsored by The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center and Vanderbilt Divinity School)

Fall Semester, 2018

1) Holocaust Lecture Series Keynote: “Coexistence and Violence: Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians on Poland’s Eastern Borderlands “

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 7:00 PM
Flynn Auditorium, Vanderbilt Law School

This lecture will discuss the triangular relationship between Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians in Eastern Galicia, with a particular emphasis on the town of Buczacz, between the rise of nationalism in the late nineteenth century and the aftermath of World War II. These three groups had lived side-by-side for four centuries under Polish and Austrian rule. But this mostly peaceful existence unraveled under the impact of foreign invasions and increasingly violent nationalist rhetoric, eventually leading to ethnic cleansing and violence. The lecture will examine the links between external and domestic factors in the transformation of a community of coexistence into one of utter devastation.

2) Estelle Laughlin, Warsaw Ghetto Survivor

Thursday, September 13 2018 at 7:00 PM 
The Schulman Center for Jewish Life—Vanderbilt Hillel
2421 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN

Estelle Laughlin is a child survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, the Uprising, and concentration camps. She immigrated to America at eighteen with only three years of public school education. Estelle was born in Warsaw in 1929, she lived with her parents and older sister in relative peace and calm until Hitler invaded Poland when she was ten years old. Soon after, the family home on Nowolipki Street became part of the Warsaw Ghetto, where 400,000 Jews were squeezed into a 1.3-square-mile area – 30 percent of the city’s population forced to live in less than three percent of the city’s space.

During the occupation, Estelle’s remembers her sister Freda saying, “Please, Mama, I don’t want to live like this,” as they watched the bodies of friends dangle from the gibbet in the center of Warsaw’s Apel Platz. “I cannot take the indignities and brutalities. Let’s step forward and make them kill us now.” But Estelle’s mother fiercely responded to her two daughters: No! Life is sacred. It is noble to fight to stay alive. Their mother’s indomitable will was a major factor in the trio’s survival in the face of brutal odds. But Estelle recognized other heroes in the ghetto as well, righteous individuals who stood out like beacons and kept their spirits alive. Their father was one, as were hungry teachers in dim, cold rooms who risked their lives to secretly teach imprisoned children. Estelle’s memoir, published sixty-four years after their liberation from the concentration camp, is a narrative of fear and hope and resiliency. While it is a harrowing tale of destruction and loss, it is also a story of the goodness that still exists in a dark world, of survival and renewal.

3) “Scandal in Ivansk” (iLens featured film)

Wednesday, October 3, 2018 at 7:30 PM
Sarratt Cinema
24th Avenue, South at Vanderbilt Place

In the small Polish town of Ivansk, one word ignites a nationwide controversy. Most of Ivansk’s Jews were killed by the Nazis, and the headstones in the Jewish cemetery were plundered for construction purposes. A group of descendants of Ivansk Jews restore the town’s cemetery, retrieving what headstones they can. When they commission a plaque that includes the word “collaborator,” a national scandal is unleashed. This eye-opening documentary strives to understand why much of the nation won’t accept “collaborator” to describe Polish people who aided the Nazis and benefitted from the genocide of Jews.

4) Who Will Write Our History: The Secret Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto

Tuesday, October 30 2018 at 7:00 PM
Belcourt Theatre
2012 Belcourt Avenue

Imagine if Anne Frank’s diary had never been published. Millions fewer people would know about the Holocaust or see the individual faces of its victims. In fact, the world would be a different place.

Now imagine there were twenty or thirty “Anne Frank” diaries, buried under the Warsaw Ghetto in milk cans and metal boxes that had never really seen the light of day! And what if those milk cans and metal boxes contained more than 30,000 other treasures—poems, paintings, photographs, underground newspapers, essays on hunger, smuggling, the Jewish police, clandestine schools and literary evenings and much more—all collected by brave members of a secret organization who risked their lives so that we, the future generations, would know the truth?

Such a priceless treasure does exist. It’s called the Oyneg Shabes Archive. It is the Dead Sea Scrolls rising from the rubble of the Warsaw Ghetto, and yet, few of us even know of its existence.

This film, co-sponsored with the Nashville Jewish Film Festival, will right that wrong in the way only a film can, by making the story accessible to millions of people around the world.

Nancy Spielberg, sister of Steven Spielberg, was the executive producer of this film and will be at the Belcourt Theatre to discuss with the audience afterward.

5) The 80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht with Survivor, Marion Lazan

Tuesday, November 6 2018 at 7:00 PM
Benton Chapel at Vanderbilt Divinity School
411 21st Avenue

Marion Blumenthal Lazan will recount the devastating years that shaped her childhood. Following Hitler’s rise to power, the Blumenthal family—father, mother, Marion, and her brother, Albert—were trapped in Nazi Germany. They managed eventually to get to Holland, but soon thereafter it was occupied by the Nazis. For the next six and a half years the Blumenthals were forced to live in refugee, transit, and prison camps that included Westerbork in Holland and the notorious Bergen-Belsen in Germany. Though they all survived the camps, Walter Blumenthal, Marion’s father, succumbed to typhus just after liberation. It took three more years of struggle and waiting before Marion, Albert, and their mother at last obtained the necessary papers and boarded ship for the United States. Their story is one of horror and hardship, but it is also a story of courage, hope, and the will to survive.