University of Minnesota Duluth
Establishment of the Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration
Establishment of the Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration

Suitecases on display in the Auschwitz Camp
Leonore Baeumler, Robert Karon, the Twin Ports Jewish Federation, and the University of Minnesota Foundation have agreed that the Baeumler-Kaplan Holocaust Memorial Lecture Series will be established at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD).

Walter Baeumler (1928-93), Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota, Duluth for twenty-eight years, was born in Nurnberg, Germany. At age sixteen, he was inducted into the German army; at seventeen, he was a "veteran" who had escaped from the Russians and had returned to a destroyed home and a ruined town. His mother had been killed by a bomb, his father was a POW in France, an uncle had been killed in Stalingrad, and other close relatives were scattered across Europe. Soon he found his beloved grandfather, who suffered starvation and torture in the hands of the Nazis, dying in an American field hospital. He told Walter, "It is better to have tyranny end with terror than to have terror without end," and admonished his grandson to build a better future. Walter Baeumler did.

In 1955, Walter Baeumler, his wife Leonore, and their baby son emigrated to America. With a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Nebraska, he came to the University of Minnesota, Duluth in 1965 and taught until he died in 1993. Dedicated to explaining to the young the importance of social problems, he always bridged the theoretical and the practical. Together with his friends, Walter and Goldie Eldot, he established the Holocaust Commemorative Series at UMD while he taught classes on the subject. Professor Baeumler wanted to insure that the lessons of the Holocaust would neither be forgotten nor swallowed by a fascination with the horrible. Thus, in his honor, this Memorial Lecture Series has been established to remember, with dignity, the lives and sufferings of the victims and to encourage change through the dissemination of truth, justice, and peace.

Mortrud Kaplan (1908-86), a lifelong resident of Duluth and a registered pharmacist, was the son of Lithuanian immigrants who worked hard to send their children to college. His sister, Mrs. Ida Grubnick, instructed her attorney, Robert J. Karon, to memorialize her brother with funds that she gave originally to the Jewish Federation and Community Council of Duluth, now the Twin Ports Jewish Federation. Mrs. Grubnick wished the commemoration to explore the plight of Jews and Judaism.

In the late twentieth century, it is difficult to believe that a civilized society like Germany could have enacted the tragedy of the Holocaust. Indeed, today there are people who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. Honoring the wishes of Mrs. Grubnick and the spirit of Mortrud H. Kaplan, Robert J. Karon has authorized this contribution to the Walter Bauemler-Mortrud H. Kaplan Holocaust Memorial Lecture Series to combat this ignorance about the past, perpetuate the memory of Jews and Jewish traditions, and exhort people--especially youth--to live without bigotry, racism, and violence.

The purpose of this fund is to provide resources for a lecture; a seminar; or series of lectures, seminars and presentations, to occur at least once every two years, dedicated to informing and educating people about the Holocaust, its victims, causes, consequences, lessons, and memory. Ignorance about the Holocaust is widespread in America, especially among young people. Consequently if the Holocaust indeed is not to happen again--to Jews or other people--it is essential that the young, in college, high school, and even earlier, be educated about the forces and attitudes that lead to one people utterly dehumanizing other people.

Criteria for Expending Funds:
As lectures and presentations are considered and provided for under the terms of this memorial gift to UMD, the following criteria must be considered:

  • Funds may be used to cover the cost of the speaker(s) or presenters, the necessary and customary travel expenses, i.e., hotels, meals, and any miscellaneous expenditures incurred for the purposes of putting on the lectures or presentations.
  • In consultation with the faculty and the UMD central administration, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts will appoint a committee of five UMD community members who, in turn, will determine appropriate subjects for the lecture, presentation, or series; select the speakers or presenters; and establish a budget for the event(s). Members of the committee shall serve for a term of two years and shall elect a chair from their own members for the two-year period. Additionally, a member of the Twin Ports Jewish Federation, in consultation with the Baeumler family, will participate as an advisor to this committee. Annually, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts will review proposals for and the general status of the budget to insure the continuity of the program.

Program Criteria:
Speaker(s) or presenters must be capable presenters and/or qualified to express their experiences, the history of the Holocaust, the Holocaust's impact upon the world, or its lessons, or be considered an expert in this particular field of teaching.

It is understood by those entering into this agreement that a time will come when no living survivors of the Holocaust can offer their experiences, and others who could offer their testimony to what actually transpired will no longer exist. The charge to the committee involved in the selection of presenters is such that they must recommend and select speaker(s) or an alternate form of presentation which best represents the intent of the Holocaust Memorial Lecture Series.

Fund Management:
The University of Minnesota Foundation shall manage and invest this fund as an endowment. A fixed percentage of accrued income earned from investment of the fund's principal shall be used to finance the lecture(s) or series of lectures and presentations. Current University of Minnesota endowment policy states that an annual rate of 5.5 percent can be spent. Any income earned above that rate shall be added to the principal of the endowment for reinvestment purposes so that the value of the fund grows over the years and keeps pace with the increasing costs connected with higher education. The principal of this endowment shall never be spent, ensuring that this fund continues to provide a learning atmosphere for UMD students in perpetuity.

Publicity for the lecture(s) or series of lectures and presentations will be a partnership between the University of Minnesota Duluth and the Twin Ports Jewish Federation. In addition, a statement of the gift account will be furnished to Robert Karon, trustee for Mr. Kaplan, Mrs. Leonore Baeumler and/or her heirs, and/or to the designated advisory person at the Twin Ports Jewish Federation.

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