Website ■ Blog ■ Donate ■ Scholarships
Newsletter – Spring 2018
The Spring semester is always a special time at the Weiss-Livnat International Program. We begin to see the fruits of our current student’s hard work and dedication and are excited by their success. But it is also a bittersweet time as we begin to bid our current cohort goodbye and prepare for the new cohort’s arrival in October. Please enjoy this newsletter sharing accounts from the past semester, upcoming events and introductions to some of our new students.
Thank-you for following the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program at the University of Haifa. Your continued support and interest is vital to our program’s success.
Arieh J. Kochavi & Yael Granot-Bein
Students participating in the course Visual Culture in the Holocaust were honored to hear a fascinating lecture from Professor Paolo Coen on the state of Holocaust memorialization in Italy. In addition to his position at the University in Teramo, Professor Coen also sits on the board of the planned Museo della Shoah in Rome. The museum will be the first of its kind in Italy and is projected to open in 2021.
On the occasion of his 90th birthday and after plenty of “noodging” from the family, Holocaust survivor Catriel Fuchs finally decided to commit his amazing story to paper. Now 92, Catriel has written and published his autobiography, which, loosely translated, is entitled More luck than judgement.
“But don’t go rushing to the next book store,” he jokes, “because only ten copies exist. They contain the memory of my murdered family, of my youth, and are dedicated to my family, of course, and to my seven great grandchildren, aged from two-and-a-half to 13. One copy is in Yad Vashem.”
In 1995, Hannah M. Lessing took the helm of the Austrian National Fund, an institution entrusted with Holocaust recognition, restitution and remembrance. At the time, her father, himself a survivor, was less than impressed with her decision to turn her back on a successful banking career. His response? “Can you give me back my childhood? Can you bring back my mother from Auschwitz?”
“That’s when I decided to do it, with the knowledge that we cannot turn back the hands of time, that we cannot repair anything,” Hannah explains. And true to her word, she approached the then President of Parliament and asked for the job.
“A person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten.” Words from the Talmud, no less, and the inspiration behind the world’s “largest commemoration project”, the Stolperstein.
The brainchild of German artist Gunter Demnig in the early 1990s, Stolpersteine – stumbling stones or blocks – are commemorative brass plaques installed in the pavement in front of a Holocaust victim’s last address of choice. Each engraving begins with the words, “Here lived…”
Cohort VI enjoyed a lively afternoon with ethical campaigner Terry Swartzberg, who is a tireless and, quite clearly, passionate advocate of the memorial project. “Stolpersteine are just the start of getting to know someone, an introduction to the victim,” he explains. “We can restore their name to our consciousness.”
This week in the Research Forum, Holocaust Survivor Micha Gelber shared his story with Cohort VI.
Micha was born in 1935 in the Netherlands. His memories began in 1940 at age five when the Germans invaded. He recalled the Nazi restrictions placed on him and his family, from not being permitted to leave their village, to have the family’s house confiscated and going in and out of hiding. Fortunately, Micha’s father was well-informed through the company he worked for and by local connections and was warned in advance when there would be waves of arrests. In 1943, however, when a Dutch policeman warned them of further arrests, Micha’s father, who had been given information that the family would be receiving Red Cross exchange certificates, decided not to go into hiding. As a result, the family was sent to Westerbork, but did receive confirmation that the Nazis intended to keep them alive to be exchanged for German nationals living in Palestine. That certificate was one of the reasons why the family was able to survive together throughout the rest of the war.
This week in the Research Forum Holocaust Survivor Danny Chanoch spoke to Cohort VI to share his story of survival through solidarity. Danny was born in 1933 in Lithuania. He was nine years old when the Germans invaded. Danny recalled seeing the atrocities that accompanied the German occupation of Lithuania with his own eyes. Because of his blonde hair and Baltic looks, he was the only member of his family who was able to safely leave their home to buy food. Walking around Kovno as a young boy, Danny saw Jewish people being tortured on the street. At such a young age he had to put up a wall between him and what he saw happening. His duty was to get food for his family, and he was also unable to help.