UPCOMING LUNCH-AND-LEARN PROGRAMS:
Join us for our Lunch-and-Learn series to hear children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, notable speakers on timely issues, and historical experts.
These programs aim to present perspectives and voices that challenge and inspire people to confront bigotry, racism, and indifference, and to consider how their actions make a difference.
Disclaimer: The views, information, or opinions expressed in these programs are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of the Holocaust Center for Humanity and its employees.
The Ravine: A Family, A Photograph, A Holocaust Massacre Revealed
Tuesday, October 26 | 12pm PT
With Dr. Wendy Lower
In 2009, Dr. Wendy Lower, the acclaimed author of Hitler’s Furies, was shown a photograph newly revealed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. While the documentation of the Holocaust is vast, there are only a few known images of Jewish families at the actual moment of murder, in this disturbing photo, by German officials and Ukrainian collaborators. A Ukrainian shooter’s rifle is inches from a woman’s head, obscured in a cloud of smoke. The woman is bending forward, holding the hand of a barefoot boy. And—only one of the shocking revelations of Dr. Lower’s 10-year investigation of this image—the shins of another child, slipping from the woman’s lap.
Dr. Lower’s detective work—in Ukraine, Germany, Slovakia, Israel, and the United States—recovers astonishing layers of detail concerning the open-air massacres in Ukraine. Her search for the identities of the victims, of the killers—and, remarkably, of the photographer who openly took the picture, as a secret act of resistance—are dramatically uncovered. Finally, in the hands of this scholar, a single image unlocks a new understanding of the place of the family unit in the history and aftermath of Nazi genocide.
Wendy Lower, Ph.D., is the John K. Roth Professor of History and George R. Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College and chairs the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and served as its Acting Director at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.
1st & 3rd Tuesdays of every month, November 2021-February 2022
All programs are virtual on Zoom.
My Father Was One of the Lucky Ones
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 | 12pm-1pm (PT)
With Ron Gompertz
In the late 1920's, there were 1,500 Jewish people living in the Krefeld, Germany. One of them was young Rolf Gompertz. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Rolf remembers his world changing. On November 9, 1938, Nazi soldeiers banged at the door of his parents' apartment, demanding to be let in. They stormed into the apartment, ready to arrest Rolf's father. The Nazi's left before arresting him, but that night they would arrest 30,000 other Jewish men in what became known as Kristallnacht, a turning point in the Holocaust. Rolf would prove to be one of the lucky Jewish individuals to find refuge in the United States. Rolf's son Ron, tells his father's story of antisemitism and persecution and eventually building a new life as an immigrant in the United States.
Ron Gompertz works in the tech industry, a published author, and is a member of the Holocaust Center's Speakers Bureau.
Concentration Camps before Nazi Germany
Tuesday, November 16, 2021 | 12pm-1pm (PT)
With Andrea Pitzer
Registration coming soon!
The extermination camps of the Holocaust mark the nadir of the twentieth century and stand alone in history. But how did humanity come to that point? Before the death camps, a concentration camp system had existed for years in Nazi Germany. And before those early Nazi camps, places called "concentration camps" had existed for decades around the globe. Join us to learn how the idea of concentration camps entered the world, and how those roots fed the camps' most horrific and lethal incarnation.
Andrea Pitzer is the author of One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps, which was named a best history book of 2017 by Smithsonian Magazine. She loves to unearth lost and forgotten history.
In addition to One Long Night, Pitzer is the author of Icebound: Shipwrecked at the Edge of the World, which narrates the three Arctic voyages of Dutch navigator William Barents, and The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov. Andrea has written for The Washington Post, The New York Review of Books, Outside, GQ, Vox, Slate, and elsewhere. Her books have been featured in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and on MSNBC, among other outlets. Her research has taken her to four continents and on multiple expeditions to the Arctic.
Searching for Survivors: The Fate of the St. Louis Passengers
Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | 12pm-1pm (PT)
With Scott Miller
Registration coming soon!
In early June of 1939 the St. Louis, a ship carrying 937 refugee passengers – almost all of them Jews fleeing Nazi Germany – was denied entry into both Cuba and the United States. After sailing off the coast of Miami Beach and with no refuge in sight, the St. Louis had to sail back to Europe.
The story of the St Louis has become a symbol of America’s indifference to the plight of Jews during the Holocaust. The fate of the ship’s passengers, however, remained an unsolved mystery for over sixty years. Scott Miller will discuss his decade long search to uncover the fate of every passenger on board this famous and fateful journey.
Scott Miller was a founding staff member at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he worked for 30 years (1989-2019), and is the co-author (with Sarah Ogilvie) of Refuge Denied – The St. Louis Passengers and the Holocaust (University of Wisconsin Press: 2006) -- the story of their search for the St. Louis passengers.
Scott managed and was spokesperson for the Holocaust Museum’s Rescue the Evidence initiative – the program to build the collection of record on the Holocaust through the acquisition of primary source and original research materials. In this capacity directed the museum’s archival, artifact, photo, film, music and oral history collections.
Currently Scott is a curatorial consultant for the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.
Remembering Felicia: The Son of an Auschwitz Survivor Shares her Story
Tuesday, December 21, 2021 | 12pm-1pm (PT)
With Matthew Erlich
Registration Coming Soon!
Felicia Lewkowicz, was born in Krakow, Poland in 1923. Felicia was one of seven children, four girls and three boys. In the spring of 1941, Felicia and one brother were sent by the Nazis to the Krakow ghetto while her mother and other siblings were sent to Tarnow, 70 miles from Krakow. Luckily, Felicia was able to get work outside the ghetto, cleaning the offices of German officers. One day, she did not return to the ghetto, escaping onto a train which would take her to Vienna, Austria. On the way, she stopped in Tarnow where she saw her family for the last time.
In Vienna, Felicia was able to acquire false identity papers and found work in a hotel. When a friend was caught smuggling clothes, a photo of Felicia was found among the clothes and she fled the hotel for fear of being caught. The authorities caught up with Felicia and she was sent to Auschwitz as a political prisoner.
Against all odds, Felicia survived Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen. She met her husband in a displaced persons camp in Germany and later moved to Canada before moving to the United States. Felicia's son Matthew Erlich tells her incredible story. Matthew is a member of the Holocaust Center's Speakers Bureau.
Tuesday, January 4, 2022 | To Be Announced!
The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive
Tuesday, January 18, 2022 | 12pm-1pm (PT)
With Lucy Adlington
Registration coming soon!
The Dressmakers of Auschwitz powerfully chronicles the stories of the women who used their sewing skills to survive the Holocaust, stitching beautiful clothes in an extraordinary fashion workshop within the Auschwitz concentration camp.
At the height of the Holocaust twenty-five young inmates of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp – mainly Jewish women and girls – were selected to design, cut, and sew beautiful fashions for elite Nazi women in a dedicated salon. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the gas chambers.
This fashion workshop – called the Upper Tailoring Studio – was established by Hedwig Höss, the camp commandant’s wife, and patronized by the wives of SS guards and officers. Here, the dressmakers produced high-quality garments for SS social functions in Auschwitz, and for ladies from Nazi Berlin’s upper crust.
Drawing on diverse sources – including interviews with the last surviving seamstress – The Dressmakers of Auschwitz follows the fates of these brave women. Their bonds of family and friendship not only helped them endure persecution but also to play their part in camp resistance. Weaving the dressmakers’ remarkable experiences within the context of Nazi policies for plunder and exploitation, Lucy Adlington exposes the greed, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the Third Reich and offers a fresh look at a little-known chapter of the Second World War and the Holocaust.
Lucy Adlington is a British historian and writer with more than twenty years’ specialisation in social history. Her previous non-fiction titles include Stitches in Time: The Story of the Clothes We Wear and Women’s Lives and Clothes in WW2: Ready for Action. Her fiction titles include the award-winning young adult novel The Red Ribbon. She runs the History Wardrobe series of costume presentations, and has an extensive collection of vintage and antique clothing.
The Holocaust through Muslim Eyes
Tuesday, February 1, 2022 | 12pm-1pm (PT)
Dr. Mehnaz Afridi
Registration coming soon!
Author and scholar Mehnaz Afridi will discuss her book, Shoah through Muslim Eyes, which describes her journey with Judaism as a Muslim. Her book is based on the struggle of antisemitism within Muslim communities and her interviews with survivors. Rejecting polemical myths about the Holocaust and Jews, Afridi offers a new way of creating understanding of two communities through the acceptance and enormity of the Shoah. Her journey is both personal and academic as she reflects on the impact of the Holocaust, her interviews with survivors, antisemitism and Islamophobia, and Islam and memory.
Dr. Mehnaz Afridi earned her PhD in Religious Studies from the University of South Africa. She currently serves as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Interfaith Education Center at Manhattan College (Riverdale, NY). Her research interests include the Holocaust; interreligious identity; post-genocide identity; Diaspora and Transnational Studies; and feminist post-colonial theory. Her publications and presentations have focused on the Qur'an and human rights, Islamic Literature and Culture; Judaism & Islam, Holocaust and antisemitism, including her co-edited book, Global Perspectives on Orhan Pamuk: Existentialism and Politics (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012). She received a National Endowment for Humanities Institute Grant in 2006 to study Venice, the Jews, and Italian Culture: Historical Eras and Cultural Representations; a Coolidge Fellow Grant from Union Theological School in 2003; and attended the Hess Seminar on Teaching Testimony and Holocaust at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2011. She has been a Board Member of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics since 2004.
Leo’s Journey – In My Father’s Words
Tuesday, February 15, 2022 | 12pm-1pm (PT)
With Richard Lowy
Registration coming soon!
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was the place where nearly 1.2 million jewish prisoners were exterminated, but it had another equally dark and tragic secret. It was ground zero for one of the largest human experimentation programs in the world. Where doctors performed horrific experiments on live prisoners, with a specific focus on twins. One of those twins was a 15-year-old boy named Leopold Lovi. (Leo Lowy).
Leo miraculously survived and went on to live a long and productive life, but the memories of what he and his twin sister Miriam had endured at the hands of Dr. Josef Mengele stayed with him until his dying days. Before he passed away in 2002, Richard encouraged his father to share his story so what Leo and the other twins endured, would never be forgotten.
Richard has chosen to deal with the burden of the painful truths of his father's story by sharing it. Though heartbreaking, the horrific implications of his father's story is truly a gift.
The BC Ministry of Education and BC Teacher’s Federation have both endorsed and presented "Leo’s Journey - In My Father’s Words" for the past 2 years on the Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau to all the High Schools and Universities in British Columbia. “In My Father’s Words” has been presented to full houses in the Johannesburg & Cape Holocaust & Genocide Museums (in association with the Apartheid Museum), the Vancouver Holocaust Educational Centre, Phoenix Holocaust Association, Schara Tzdeck Synagogue, UBC Holocaust Symposium to name a few.
Richard is currently developing a theatrical production of his father’s story.
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Thank you to our 2021 Lunch-and-Learn Sponsors:
The Frances Roth & Stanley R. Schill Foundation