For the past twelve years, the Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Committee has worked to include a survivor of the Holocaust as a focal point of our commemoration. This year, we are very fortunate in that our featured speakers are David Gewirtzman and Eugenie Mukeshimana. Mr. Gewirtzman is a Holocaust survivor and Ms. Mukeshimana is a Rwandan refugee and genocide survivor. They will present: "The Holocaust and Genocide, Past and Present" on Monday, April 18 at 4:30 p.m. in Chem 200. We have timed the showing of Ghosts of Rwanda to be closer to our Commemorative lecture.
2005 Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Film Series
Our film series begins at the end of March. All six viewings begin at 7:00 p.m. and will be followed by a facilitated discussion.
Tuesday, March 29 - Weber Music Hall
The Pianist - Winner of three Academy Awards
The story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a brilliant Polish/Jewish pianist who escapes deportation and is forced to live for a time in the Warsaw ghetto. He escapes the ghetto and hides in Warsaw's ruins.
Wednesday, March 30 - Weber Music Hall
Europa, Europa - Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film
This is the tale of Holocaust survival, rather than martyrdom or heroism. Based on the real life experiences of Solomon Perel, the film's theme centers on the complicated issues of adolescent and Jewish identity.
Thursday, March 31 - Weber Music Hall
The Shop on Main Street - Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
The Shop on Main Street takes place during the war, in the Nazi-controlled fascist puppet-state of Slovakia and focuses on the moral questions associated with collaboration.
Saturday, April 2 - Bohannon 90
The Grey Zone - Starring Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, and Mira Sorvino
Set in Auschwitz during the end of the war, the film explores the "moral grey zone" experienced by the film's protagonists.
Sunday, April 3 - Bohannon 90
Judgment at Nuremberg - Nominated for 11 Academy Awards
The movie opens with scenes of Nuremberg, Germany, 1948. The destruction of the war is evident everywhere. Judge Hayward is in Nuremberg, along with two other judges, to preside over the trial of Ministry of Justice officials for their complicity in the Holocaust.
Saturday, April 16 - Bohannon 90
Ghosts of Rwanda - The powerful Frontline documentary first seen on PBS
The documentary marks the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, a state-sponsored massacre in which 800,000 Rwandans were methodically hunted down and murdered by Hutu extremists.
2005 Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration Lecture
Our featured speakers are David Gewirtzman, a Holocaust Survivor, and Eugenie Mukeshimana. Here are their personal statements.
David Gewirtzman writes:
"I was born on May 16, 1928 in Losice, Poland. My father was a grain merchant, my mother a housewife. Losice had about 8,000 inhabitants, 75% of them Jews. I have two younger siblings. My parents died some years ago, my father at the age of 102.
"On September 1, 1939, the German army invaded Poland. On Saturday, September 9, our town was bombed. Fifty-five Jews were killed and 150 injured. The old synagogue was destroyed. The town was occupied several days later.
"Harassment, deprivation and persecution of the Jewish population soon followed. In spite of the difficulties, I and a number of other Jewish children managed to persevere and continue our education. In 1941 I celebrated my Bar Mitzvah in the Ghetto.
"Forewarned, we built a hiding place in the attic of our building. On August 22, 1942, the Ghetto was surrounded by an assortment of German and Polish policemen and the 8,000 Jews were led to the railway station and shipped to the extermination camp, Treblinka. My family and a few others hid in the attic. A failed attempt to excape from there landed my sister and I in jail. Two young people below our cell were shot the same night, possibly by mistake, instead of us. We were taken to a labor camp where the rest of my family joined us later.
"My sister found refuge with the same Polish policeman, who previously arrested us. My brother, at age 9, was hidden in a haystack, where he spent 22 months. Sveral relatives, my parents and I, were hidden under a pigsty until the summer of 1944, when liberated by the advancing Red Army. Of the 8,000 Jews in the Ghetto, 16 came back.
"I left Poland, alone, in the spring of 1945. After crossing numerous borders (illegally), I was welcomed by the Palenstinian Jewish Brigade stationed in Tarvisio, Italy. Later, I joined a kibbutz near Rome where my family found me in 1946. I went back to school, graduated from an Italian Lyceum and attended the University of Rome for one year. In 1948 we arrived in the USA. I continued my education and graudated in 1954 with a degree in Pharmacy. I got married the same year. After two years in the U.S. Army (in Germany) I resumed a normal life. I owned several pharmacies, raised and educated two children and am a proud grandfather of six grandchildren.
"Since retirement in 1995, I became involved with the Nassau Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center in Glen Cove, New York. I am the chairman of the education committee and a member of the board. I lecture to high school and college students as well as adults about my experiences during the Holocaust and the lessons to be learned from it as well as the genocides that followed since then.
"I participate in seminars for teachers and other professionals, both at our center and outside. In 2001 I teamed up with Jacqueline Murekatete, a 16-year-old suvrvivor of the Rwandan genocide and together we have been lecturing about prejudice and intolerance.
"We have spoken at several of the Ivy League schools, Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, many of the high schools and universities in the New York area, at temples and churches in Washington, D.C., and many other places. In May of 2005 I spoke to the students and faculty of the University of Bologna, in Italy, and on a separate occasion to several hundred high school students (in Italian). We were honored last November by the ADL (Anti Defamation League) with a dinner and concert by the National Symphony orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. In December we received "The Global Peace and Tolerance Award" from the United Nations. Jacqueline was given the opportunity to give a talk on the floor of the United Nations to over 180 delegates from all over the World during the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. We were written up in the New York Times, People Magazine and several other publications. We appeared several times on NPR radio, BBC and Voice of America. On TV we were interviewed on ABC, NBC's Today Show, the Wolf Blitzer Hour on CNN and on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer on Public television. Jacqueline received a full scholarship to attend college and is currently a second year student at New York University. We both hope to continue our mission as long as the opportunity exists."
Eugenie Mukeshimana writes:
"I was born in Rwanda. My father was an elementary school teacher, then a principal of the same school in a rural village where I spend my first 15 years of life. My mother was a stay-at-home mum. I moved to Kigali (the capital city of Rwanda) at the age of 16 to attend Lycee Notre Dame des Citeaux , a Roman Catholic High School. The genocide began a few weeks before high school graduation. I was 23 years old then, married, and eight months pregnant with my first child. My husband and I were attacked and forced to flee our home. We hid in a local school the first night. With help from an old friend, a stranger family hid me; my husband was taken to a separate location. An old friend of ours helped us find families to hide us. He was later found and killed. I was discovered by the militia and taken to a local female government representative. Her daughter pleaded with her to save my life, which she did for a few days. On the night of May 8, 1994, I gave birth to my daughter, was discovered again by the militia and taken to the killing site where I was handed over to a local militia gang-leader and taken into captivity until the fall of Kigali to the Rwanda Patriotic Army. Both my child and I survived but several members, including my father and my elder sister my family were killed.
"In the aftermath of the genocide, I went back to school and got my high school diploma in Accounting. I taught myself English and got jobs with international aid agencies. My ambition to become somebody took another turn after meeting a UN Human Rights worker who shared my story with her friends around the globe, including my current host family. I came to America in December of 2001 to attend the undergraduate social work program at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY from which I am expected to graduate this summer. As a way of giving back to the community that has been so generous to me, I took on a new role of educating the local community about the Rwandan genocide through schools, churches, social agencies, and public libraries."