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Holocaust Awareness Week to explore ‘personal confrontations with the past’

Northeastern’s commitment to Holocaust remembrance is long and deep, dating back to 1977. Since then, the university has hosted an annual weeklong series of events designed to bear witness to the Holocaust while exploring issues arising out of the extermination of 6 million Jews.

Northeastern’s 2017 Holocaust Awareness Week—presented by the Holocaust Awareness Committee, the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, the Office of the Provost, and the Northeastern Humanities Center—will run from Monday, Jan. 23 to Thursday, Jan. 26.

Titled “Personal Confrontations with the Past,” the commemorative series of events will include a sur­vivor talk, a film screening, and a number of educational lectures.

Here’s a preview of the events:

Holocaust Commemoration

Northeastern’s Holocaust Commemoration will be held on Monday at 4:30 p.m. in the Cabral Center. The event will feature remarks from President Joseph E. Aoun; a talk by a distinguished Northeastern faculty member; and a presentation by the recipient of the Gideon Klein Award.

The Gideon Klein Award—which honors the memory of the Czech pianist and com­poser who died in a Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camp in 1945—is annu­ally bestowed upon one stu­dent, who receives $5,000 to study the work of an artist who was per­se­cuted by the Nazis.

Ali Camp­bell, SSH17, this year’s Gideon Klein Scholar, will discuss the life and work of Wilhelm Brasse, a Polish photographer who was imprisoned in Auschwitz during World War II. Campbell is a photographer herself, capturing life in Rwanda last year as part of her ongoing research project to examine the visual rep­re­sen­ta­tions of geno­cide and the pol­i­tics of memory.

Faculty member Rose Zolteck-Jick, associate teaching professor in the School of Law, will deliver a lecture titled “The Search for Meaning: Survivors’ Children and their Choice of a Life in the Law.”

RSVP is required to attend this event.

Philip N. Back­strom Jr. Sur­vivor Lec­ture Series

Anna Ornstein, author of My Mother’s Eyes: Holocaust Memories of a Young Girl, will deliver the Philip N. Back­strom Jr. Sur­vivor Lec­ture on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. in the Raytheon Amphitheater.

Ornstein was born in 1927 in Szendro, a small agricultural village located in northern Hungary. When she was just 17, the Nazis took her and her family to Auschwitz, transporting the group by cattle-wagon. Her father and grandmother were killed, while she and her mother were selected for work.

Ornstein’s memoir comprises a collection of stories about her harrowing experiences at Auschwitz and other forced labor camps, which she and her mother managed to survive before being liberated in the spring of 1945.

“As a Holocaust survivor, I am deeply concerned with the survival of the memory of this catastrophic event,” Ornstein told the Terezin Music Foundation. “It is my conviction that survival of any historical event can be assured only when such events become transformed into various forms of art.”

Bill Giessen film screening

Northeastern will host a screening of What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Raytheon Amphitheater followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Philippe Sands.

Holocaust Awareness Week’s annual film screening is named in honor of Bill Giessen, a former North­eastern pro­fessor who grew up in Nazi Ger­many and passed away in 2010.

This year’s thought-provoking documentary centers on two men whose fathers were high-ranking Nazi officials, including one who is quick to offer excuses for his father’s actions. As both men confront the realities of their family heritage, they travel through Europe with Sands, a human rights lawyer who lost members of his own family in the Holocaust.

“My family was very directly affected by the actions of these men,” Sands explains in the film’s trailer, including “the killing of my grandfather’s entire family.”

The 25th annual Robert Salomon Morton Lecture

Sands—professor of law at University College London—will deliver Northeastern’s 25th annual Robert Salomon Morton Lecture on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Raytheon Amphitheater.

The lecture will be based on his book East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity,” which won the 2016 Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction. The book recounts the life and work of the two men who conceived of the concepts of genocide and the crime against humanity, Jewish thinkers named Hersch Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin.

In its review of Sands’ book, The New York Times lauded Lauterpacht and Lemkin as “indefatigable champions of rights who fought for their entire lives…to produce a philosophy that led to…the possibility that not all of the mass murderers of our time will pass away peacefully in their sleep.”

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