Five to six million people died during the Holocaust of World War II. Starting today, CSU will be remembering those lost for Holocaust Awareness Week.
Events are scheduled throughout the week to encourage students and community members to be aware of what happened more than 65 years ago as well as current issues.
“There are still issues of racism and anti-Semitism all over the world,” said Carmody Leerssen, a junior English major and president of Students for Holocaust Awareness. “If we don’t control it now, it will happen again.”
The theme of the week of remembrance is “Do Not Stand Idly By.” Director of the Jewish student organization Hillel, Hedy Berman, said it’s important to remember.
“When things happen today, you need to speak up,” she said. “We need to have allies and come together.”
“You need to be aware of your surroundings and to step up (when racist or anti-Semitist remarks are made),” Leerssen added.
The events are set to kick off today at 7 p.m. with the Survivors Panel, which will showcase three Holocaust survivors and their stories. A Q-and-A session will follow the presentation.
“The survivor panel is the biggest event,” Leerssen said. “It is very powerful and it is a good way to start off the week.”
The panel will be held in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom.
This year’s keynote speakers are Dave Gewirtzman and Eugenie Mukeshimana. Gewirtzman is a Holocaust survivor while Mukeshimana is a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. They have combined their experiences and narratives into a program called “Voices of Survival.” The presentation will be in the Lory Student Center Theatre on Tuesday.
Two afternoon presentations are also scheduled.
The first, “Displaced Persons: Rebuilding Culture and Community in the Aftermath of WWII,” will be Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. in Room 203 of the Lory Student Center. On March 1 at noon, Ron Sladek, a Fort Collins resident, will discuss his recent visit to Slovakia with his father, Osi, who survived the Holocaust there. This presentation will be in the Lory Student Center room 224.
According to Leerssen, the most important part of the week of remembrance is the Litany of Martyrs. Every day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Sunken Lounge of the Lory Student Center, volunteers will read names of some of those who died during the Holocaust.
“It is important because as long as the names are said, they are remembered.” Leerssen said. “It is also a way to get the campus involved.”
The week of commemoration will wrap up with a memorial service at noon on March 2 in the Lory Student Center Art Lounge. All are welcome.
“As survivors get older, we won’t have them any more. Don’t wait; as long as they are here, take advantage of their experiences,” Leerssen said.
More information and a schedule of events can be found at csu.hillelcolorado.org by clicking on the Holocaust Awareness Week logo.
Staff writer Anica Wong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.