Learning from the Past
helps bring the lessons of the Holocaust to UMD students
(Right: Holocaust survivor Henry
Oertelt and Betsy Rosenzweig)
Betsy Rosenzweig, 77, has been walking
UMDs halls and thinking about the Holocaust since she was in
high school. She was intrigued by that part of World War II and in
order to write a paper on the topic, she visited the UMD Library.
She even met Walter Bauemler, the UMD professor for whom a Holocaust
lecture series is named. Now, 20 some years later, she still walks
the halls, turning over thoughts about WWII. Rosenzweig is in her
fourth year as one of the community members on the Baeumler-Kaplan
Holocaust Memorial Lecture Series committee.
This past April, the committee brought Holocaust survivor Henry Oertelt,
from St. Paul, Minnesota, for the annual lecture. We know the
survivors wont be around a lot longer so our focus is on bringing
one each year, Rosenzweig said.
Henry Oertelt wrote the book, An Unbroken Chain, One Mans Survival.
At UMD, Oertelt told the story of eighteen heart-stopping incidents,
or chains in his life. He recounted his life as a child in Hitlers
Germany. He told about wartime Berlin and his experience in the concentration
camps. He narrated the account of his eventual liberation, many days
into a death march, when he saw tanks bearing the U.S insignia and
he realized he would be free.
Rosenzweig said that Oertelt chose the motif of a chain with 18 links,
(18 or Chai, which means life in Hebrew), to explain why he was one
of the lucky ones to survive. The passage of time has made Oertelts
message even more pertinent, she said. Oertelt is a humble
man and he told his story in such a heartfelt way that everyone in
the crowd could identify with the situation. The students were especially
Engaging students, Jewish and non-Jewish, is important to Rosenzweig.
She was not raised in a Jewish family and that is one of the reasons
she was invited to be on the committee. However, Rosenzweig is married
to a Jewish man, Michael Rosenzweig, and her father-in-law is a Holocaust
survivor. In addition, each year Rosenzweig visits grade school classrooms
to share the story of Hanukkah and its critical message of religious
freedom. Those things, combined with her status as a UMD alumna from
the Communication and Science Disorders program, made her an ideal
candidate. When Shirley Garber, a long-time Duluth activist and UMD
supporter, made the call to invite Rosenzweig to join the group, Rosenzweig
College students made up over half of the audience at Oertelts
lecture and the film, The White Rose, which was shown later that evening.
The film told the story of a college student group in Nazi Germany
who resisted Hitler and were caught, imprisoned and executed. They
had secretly printed and distributed anti-Nazi pamphlets that revealed
the truth about concentration camps. Rosenzweig believes that college
students today have a lot of that same spirit. My generation
resisted Vietnam and worked for civil rights, she said. Students
today are adamant about recycling, they are in the environmental movement
and they are passionate about peace and justice. They are impatient,
where some of us are complacent. They want to change it now.
The Holocaust Memorial Lecture brings up some serious issues. It
makes you think about what one human group does to another group,
Rosenzweig said. We can ignore genocide in Rwanda, Afghanistan
and Bosnia. We can let ourselves be lulled into a false sense of peace,
but when we see a film like The White Rose, we are forced to think
about what we would do in that situation.
With people like Betsy Rosenzweig and the rest of the Baeumler-Kaplan
Holocaust Memorial committee, we arent allowed to forget the
sobering facts of the Holocaust. They push us to remember the despair
and challenge us to place hope in the human spirit.
About Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Memorial Series: The gifts of the
Baeumler family, Leonore Baeumler, the Northland Jewish Fund and many
others insure the future of the Holocaust Lecture Series, which has
been bringing lectures, films, and discussion groups to UMD with the
support of the Alworth Institute, the College of Liberal Arts and
the Chancellors Office. Mrs. Baeumlers husband, Walter,
was a professor of sociology at UMD for 28 years and frequently taught
courses on the Holocaust. He was born in Germany where his experiences
in the 30s and during the War made him deeply aware of the human
cost of prejudice and hate. Mortrud Kaplan, also honored in this endowment,
was a lifelong resident of Duluth. His family commemorated him by
supporting endeavors that explored the plight of Jews and Judaism.
For more information about the series view the web site at http://www.d.umn.edu/~dpeters1/.
For endowment information contact Colleen Holwerk at 218-726-7833.
Julie Unulock guest directs in
the UMD theatre
When Pat Dennis, the head of the UMD Department of Theatre, called
Julie Unulock and invited her to return to UMD as a guest artist,
Unulock jumped at the chance. It wasnt just a chance to direct
another play and it wasnt just the opportunity to work in
the familiar Marshall Performing Arts Center. It was a chance to
collaborate with the playwright, UMD 1992 alumna Jeannine Coulombe.
The two had never met, but they developed a relationship over the
phone and the internet and then in November 2000, while Coulombes
play was in rehearsal, Coulombe also came back to UMD. It
was a rare treat for the cast to meet the playwright, said
Unulock. The sessions were rich and rewarding.
Unulock was drawn to the plays topic. I am attracted
to plays about the human condition and plays about women and womens
lives. Jeannine Coulombes The Vacant Lot is all of that
This spring Coulombe was recognized for the script at the American
College Theatre Festival. Coulombe earned $2,500 and won the National
AIDS Fund/Council of Fashion Designers of America-Vogue Initiative
Award for Playwrighting.
The play is about someone who is searching for meaning in
her life, Unulock said. The main character, an AIDS patient
named Melissa, embarks on a journey to re-discover her life in its
final moments. In the play, an unexpected guide appears to help
her, not only come to terms with the paths she has chosen, but also
to embrace the essence of who she is.
Unulocks university career was full of meaning. She was onlife,
Unulock said. The main character, an AIDS patient named Melissa,
embarks on a journey to re-discover her life in its final moments.
In the play, an unexpected guide appears to help her, not only come
to terms with the paths she has chosen, but also to embrace the
essence of who she is.
Unulocks university career was full of meaning. She was one
of many people who take a break before finishing college. I
started school in Superior but never finished, so after about 20
years I found myself in school at UMD, she explained. In 1996
Unulock graduated with a bachelors degree in theatre with
a minor inwomens studies.
She directed her first play for MPACs Stage 2 and, fell
in love with the whole process and discovered I had a a passion
for finding the projects, doing the research, and directing the
rehearsals. I loved everything about it.
Then she became the production stage manager for UMDs summer
program at the Minnesota Repertory Theatre. I was always intrigued
with directing. When I had the chance to do some stage management
I found that it informed my work as a director.
After she graduated, Unulock joined Theatre Professor Tom Isbell
and a team of collaborators who wrote the ACTF award-winning play
Dear Finder. The play, which is based on stories of Holocaust survivors,
is taken from diaries and news accounts. Isbell began the research
at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Next the seven collaborators
had to synthesize the accounts of Holocaust survivors into a cohesive
piece of theater. In 1999, Unulock traveled with the UMD Department
of Theatre production of Dear Finder to the John F. Kennedy Center
for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
It was an undescribable experience. Tom Isbell is one of the
people who has influenced my work, she said. UMD womens
studies professors Tineke Ritmeester and Linda Krug also influenced
me to look at my world and the world I live in with a more attentive
Since graduation Unulock has directed at the College of St. Scholastica,
Duluths Dark Horse Theatre and the Duluth Playhouse. This
summer she returned to UMD to stage manage the musical Man of LaMancha
for Minnesota Repertory Theatre.
She said that directing is a challenging, inspirational and spiritual
part of her life. I love the learning process associated with
directing a play. There is something special about a live production
as the actors interact with the audience. It is invigorating!! There
are a lot of plays to come in Unulocks future and here at
UMD, we are waiting to see them.
by Cheryl Reitan