The Institute for Holocaust Education is pleased to announce a new educational learning opportunity that will begin on Thursday, Nov. 19, titled 'Third Thursdays: IHE Lunch and Learn.' On the third Thursday of each month from noon until 1:30 p.m., the IHE will offer educational opportunities for the community to learn about different topics involved in both Holocaust education and topics of interest on subjects involving the Holocaust. For the foreseeable future, these classes will be offered on Zoom.
Facilitation of this series will be by Scott Littky, Executive Director and Kael Sagheer, Education Coordinator of IHE, along with different experts of various topics.
For the first month on Nov. 19, please join us for our discussion on "How Humor Helped Heal The Pain Of The Holocaust." Together on Zoom we will view a short lecture from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In this presentation, Dr. Edna Freidberg, Historian at the USHMM, speaks with Ferne Pearlstein, director of The Last Laugh, to explore how humor kept the human spirit alive during the Holocaust and helped some survivors heal. Jewish comedian Robert Clary, who was imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp and later acted in the 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, says that making people laugh during the Holocaust saved his life. Humor helped some people cope with atrocious conditions in ghettos and concentration camps as they suffered under Nazi brutality. We will debrief and discuss the presentation together after the viewing.
On Dec. 17 from noon to 1:30 p.m., we hope you come learn with Kael Sagheer, IHE Education Coordinator, when she will present and discuss the book Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm. There is no need to read the book. We will send you a synopsis. Ravensbrück, from the outside, was a prison/re-education center (1939-45) for women who were a threat to German society: communists, socialists, criminals, asocials, Jehovah Witnesses, and Jews among them. From the inside, it was a place of torture, infanticide, prostitution, theft, slave labor, medical experiments, and murder. According to those who survived it, Ravensbrück was its very own kind of hell—one only understood by those inside the walls. The environment spawned both incredible compassion and generosity, as well as dog-eat-dog competition—the very best and worst of which humans are capable.
In her 658-page book, Sarah Helms tells the previously unknown story of Ravensbrück through historical investigation and personal narratives of inmates as well as German personnel. Yevgenia Klemm, the Soviet POW; Elsa Krug, the prostitute from Düsseldorf; Krysia Cruz, the Polish rabbit; Grete Buber-Neumann and Olga Benario, the German communists are among the inmate narratives. Dr. Sonntag, the barbarian; Dr. Mennecke, the psychiatrist; Dorothea Binz, the cruel but beautiful guard, and Johanna Langefeld, the morally conflicted chief guard are among the personnel. Each story is a complete tale of the human experience. Yet each one is also a piece of the whole picture that is Ravensbrück. Unfortunately, not every story of the nearly 140,000 women could be known. Many voices were lost in that dark place.
Speaking about her session, Kael states, “the voice that I will be focusing on Dec. 17 is that of Johanna Langefeld, the Oberaufseherin of Ravensbrück. Quite often when teaching and talking about the Holocaust, the question, “How could good people let this happen?” comes up. It is both an earnest and a rhetorical question because to answer it takes a considerable amount of thought and exploration. My hope is that through Johanna’s story we will be able to explore whether she deserves our empathy or condemnation, and whether we can make a personal connection to Johanna or others like her.”
On Thursday, Jan. 21 at noon-1:30 p.m. we are excited to learn from Dr. Eileen M. Angelini about The Vel d’Hiv Round-Up: The Largest Mass Arrest in Wartime in French History.
From July 16-17, 1942, the French Police arrested French Jews. The victims were held in deplorable conditions at the Velodrome d’Hiver, or Vel d’Hiv, an indoor cycling stadium. Learn about the detailed planning by the Vichy Government behind the round-up and how the French Government and citizens have since dealt with the pain and shame of this traumatic event.
Dr. Angelini, co-creator and co-director of the documentary La France Divisee (France Divided) will share her historical knowledge, her experience working with survivors, and her work in Holocaust education with us.
Dr. Eileen M. Angelini, was from 2013-2017 a Fulbright Specialist, recipient of a 2010-2011 Canada-U.S. Fulbright award as a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Globalization and Cultural Studies at McMaster University and named Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques in August 2011, received her B.A. in French from Middlebury College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in French Studies from Brown University. Dr. Angelini is the Associate Dean of the School for Graduate Studies at SUNY Empire State College.
To register for the third Thursday IHE Lunch and Learn series, please email Ivy Banks, IHE Administrative Assistant at Ibanks@ihene.org. After registering for the event, a confirmation email with the Zoom link will be sent to you.