Tag Archives: International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Holocaust Remembrance Day program at the Library

“Evil does not need your help; only your indifference.”

—Hanns Loewenbach (1915-2012)

On Monday, January 28th, Regent University and the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater will observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a multimedia presentation, What We Carry, a documentary based on interviews with four Holocaust survivors from the Hampton Roads area.

What We Carry is an educational program for classrooms, museums and community outlets. It was created to preserve personal testaments from Holocaust survivors for future generations. In the words of the program’s creators: “First person accounts are the heart and soul of the unimaginable tragedy that is the Holocaust. To look into somebody’s eyes as they are recounting inconceivable degradation and horror is unforgettable. But what happens when survivors are no longer alive to share their stories? Who will teach the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations so that truth can continue, questions can be asked, and history cannot be rewritten?”

Monday’s presentation will focus on interviews with Hanns Loewenbach, who died last January at the age of 96. The program will be held from 6:00 to 7:30 in the Library Auditorium. A reception will follow. Please consider joining us for this important event.

For more information, visit the What We Carry website or visit the links on the Library’s What We Carry webpage.

Library commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Written by Harold Henkel, Associate Librarian

On January 27, 1945 the advancing Soviet army entered Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the United Nations designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era.

This year, on the 66th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Library marked this solemn event with two days of commemorative events. From 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, the Library screened Claude Lanzmann’s 9½ hour film Shoah. Based on interviews with concentration camp survivors, guards, and witnesses from surrounding villages, Shoah (1985) has been acclaimed as the most important of all Holocaust documentaries.

At 6:30 p.m., in front of a standing-room only audience in the Library Auditorium, a memorial service for victims of the Nazis was held in conjunction with an introduction to the world premier of The Auschwitz Album Revisited, an exhibition of 28 paintings by artist Dr. Pat Mercer Hutchens. The memorial service included reflections on the Holocaust by Library Dean Sara Baron, University Chancellor Pat Robertson, and President Carlos Campo. Five honored guests also spoke. Dr. Israel Zoberman, founding Rabbi at Congregation Beth Chaverim in Virginia Beach, led the recitation of the Kaddish (Jewish Mourner’s Prayer). Holocaust survivor and Chesapeake resident David Katz gave a moving testimony of how he survived the war with the aid of French “righteous Gentiles,” and even served as a courier for the French Resistance. A brief autobiography of Mr. Katz may be read here.

Following Mr. Katz’s remarks, Rev. Sonny Mathew introduced the artist. Dr. Hutchens recounted looking at the Auschwitz Album and feeling deeply moved by the photographs, particularly those of women and children. “I tried to think about how I would have felt, and I was overwhelmed with sorrow.” It was then that she felt God’s call to give artistic expression to the subjects of the photographs. Initially, Dr. Hutchens had planned to do a series of only twelve paintings, but as she worked on the project, she felt a responsibility to memorialize all the children in the Auschwitz Album. Twenty-eight paintings have now been created, and Dr. Hutchens continues to add to the series.

The memorial service concluded with Cantor Roni Wexler chanting the El Male Rachamim (prayer for the departed). A video of the memorial service may be viewed by clicking here.

Following a five-minute break, the audience re-assembled in the Library gallery, and the artist’s husband, Brigadier General James Hutchens, US Army (ret.), offered a prayer, blessing the paintings and officially opening the exhibition. A video of Gen. Hutchen’s remarks may be viewed here.

The Auschwitz Album Revisited will be on display in the Library gallery through February 18th. The paintings will be taken to the Krakow Jewish Cultural Festival in Poland this summer.

On January 28th at the Library, 14 readers joined historian Dr. David Meyer for a discussion of Elie Wiesel’s memoir of Auschwitz, Night, one of the foundational works of Holocaust literature.

Throughout all the commemorative events, the declaration “Never Again” emerged as the over-arching theme of the proceedings, with President Campo articulating what must be the end-purpose of all education about the Holocaust: “We will ever remain vigilant, and I stand in the tradition that says ‘never again.’”

David Meyer to lead discussion of Elie Wiesel’s Night

On Friday, January 28, at 12:00 in the Library Conference Room, Dr. David Meyer will lead a discussion of Night, by Elie Wiesel. Wiesel (b. 1928) is a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps and the 1986 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He is the author of over 50 works of fiction and non-fiction.

Night (1958) was Wiesel’s first book. Originally written in Yiddish in 1956 (Wiesel writes that he took a personal vow in 1945 to wait ten years before attempting to write down his Holocaust memories), the work tells of the deportation of the Jews from his hometown in Hungary to Auschwitz-Birkenau and the author’s struggle to keep himself and his father alive through hard labor and a death-march to Buchenwald. Along with works such as Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, Victor Frankel’s Man’s Search for Meaning, and Primo Levi’s If This Is a Man, Night is one of the core texts of Holocaust literature.

In the preface to a new translation of Night, published in 2006, Wiesel writes, “If in my lifetime I was to write only one book, this would be the one. Just as the past lingers in the present, all my writings after Night…profoundly bear its stamp and cannot be understood if one has not read this very first of my works.”

Dr. Meyer is Associate Professor of Government and History in the School of Undergraduate Studies. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University. Among his areas of research are ethnic conflict, religious persecution, and genocide. Among many other distinctions, Dr. Meyer has served as Academic Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy at the University of Tel Aviv.

The Library’s discussion of Night will take place on the day following the Memorial Service and Exhibition Opening for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. To request a free excerpt of the book, please contact Harold Henkel at harohen@regent.edu.