Candle, Boat and Warning Lights. Lilly Edna Amit (Bobasch). c. WWII.
The candle stood proud and upright
a spark did kindle its light
spreading its shine, its heat
fleeting slowly and complete.
A ship sailed far and away,
listing, it went almost astray,
days, sunsets, storms and fogs
steering between the dangerous rocks
Will it find the lighthouse it seeks?
Will it be able to see the light shine,
to hear the warnings just in time?
-Poem by Lilly Edna Amit (Bobasch), Survivor, WWII Labor Camp at Terezin
Voices of Terezin: Art as a Strategy for Survival
Through April at Bender Library
In 1941, the Nazis created a ghetto in Theresienstadt (in the modern day Czech Republic) that served as a collection camp for inmates on their way to the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Prisoners were allowed a certain level of freedom by the Nazis to create an appearance of normalcy for outside observers. These prisoners found a release for their hopelessness in artistic creations ranging from operas and cabarets to concerts and covertly produced drawings that recorded the truth of the ghetto. This powerful exhibit chronicled that effort and features words, images and posters by the indomitable spirits who endured this terrible fate. The exhibit was part of the Capstone Project of Inga Bunsch Sieminski.
Honors Colloquium Course: Voices of Terezin
Jan. 13 to May 4
This was the first time the Jewish Studies Program will be represented in the Honors Program with this course that examines the experiences and testimonies of the Jewish inmates of the Terezin/Thereisenstadt concentration camp during and after the Holocaust with a particular focus on the extraordinary artistic life of the prisoners. The course had three goals:
1. To deepen students' understanding of the camp within the broader context of war and genocide.
2. To equip students with knowledge of the history and rich culture of the Jewish inmates of Terezin/Theresienstadt, most of whom came from communities across Central Europe.
3. To address broad historical themes such as war and genocide, totalitarianism, and collective trauma and memory.
Film Screening: The Fuehrer Gives the Jews a City
Jan. 27, Bender Library
This remaining 22 minute footage of a Nazi propaganda film was intended to deceive the outside world about atrocious conditions inside the Terezin ghetto. The screening was followed by a discussion about how media can be misused when populations have been robbed of their basic rights to free expression and information. Film was introduced and discussion was guided by Nina Spiegel, AU’s Schusterman Teaching Fellow in Jewish Studies. Cosponsored by the AU Library and Jewish Studies Program.
Film Screening: Fighter
Sponsored by the Embassy of the Czech Republic
Director: Amir Bar-Lev
Director of Photography: Gary Griffin (AU SOC Professor)
Fighter followed two men, Jan Weiner and former American University Professor Arnost Lustig, survivors of Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. What Director Bar-Lev first envisioned as a historical documentary soon became the personal story of the battle between two very different men—one the bitter, angry fighter, the other, the wise and cynical philosopher—who have very different ways of dealing with memories of the Holocaust. As they retraced the steps of Weiner’s escape from the Nazis, they regaled one another with thrilling exploits, revisiting scenes of romance, humor, narrow escapes and life-or-death confrontations.
Stanislav Petr Kolar visits Washington
Prof. Kolar is the author of, among other works, Seven Responses to the Holocaust in American Fiction, published in the Czech Republic by the University of Ostrava. While at American University, he spoke about the east European shtetl before the war, participated in a panel with AU professors, including noted poets Myra Sklarew and David Keplinger, on "Art in a Post-Holocaust World," and lectured to the class on “Voices of Terezin.” Professor Kolar's visit was sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program.
Workshop with Woodrow Wilson High School
Woodrow Wilson High School in D.C. included Terezin for the first time in their Holocaust education. Fifty 10th graders worked with a study guide developed by AU graduate student Inga Sieminski, participated in an in-class workshop of experiential learning, attended a Voices of Terezin performance, and concluded with a talkback and reflective writing.
Survival in the Aftermath: Art in a Post-Holocaust World
Feb. 17, Bender Library
Panel with AU Professors Myra Sklarew, David Keplinger, and University of Ostrava (Czech Republic) Professor Stanislav Kolar. The panel presented readings of poetry, and a discussion on the stories and books by suvivors including Paul Celan Miklos Radnoti, Viktor Frankl, and Arnost Lustig, as well as Jewish American writers and the children of survivors, investigating the links between writing, survival, and memory. Cosponsored by the AU Library and the Department of Literature. Visited by Professor Kolar sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program.
Film Screening: Theresienstadt: Gateway to Auschwitz
Mar. 16, Bender Library
A group of child survivors of the Terezin ghetto shared how cultural activities enabled them to cling to hope in the face of daily exposure to death. A panel discussion with Dr. Nancy Goodman and Dr. Marilyn Meyer provided context through the lens of trauma psychology. Cosponsored by the AU Library and Department of Performing Arts.
Invited Preview: Voices of Terezin
Mar. 18, Abramson Family Recital Hall, Katzen Arts Center
Detailed performance description below. The performance was followed by a "Talkback on Human Rights" sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences Dean's Office. Panelists included faculty members Max Friedman (history), Brenda Werth (language & foreign studies), and David Vine (anthropology). Panelists expanded the issues raised in the performance to a broader human rights context.