Reading the name of every person killed in the Holocaust would take more than 500 days – about 120,000 hours of non-stop reading.
The Litany of Martyrs began Monday as part of Holocaust Awareness Week in the Sunken Lounge of the Lory Student Center and continues though Friday. Volunteers give up 15 minutes of their time to read the names of victims of the Holocaust.
“I think the best way to prevent something like this from happening again is to educate people,” said Ben Tessler, a freshmen psychology major and member of Sigma Alpha Mu. “So many innocent people died, it’s only right to honor their memory.”
Sigma Alpha Mu is the national Jewish fraternity and newest fraternity to appear on campus. Dan Croll, a junior construction management major, and other “Sammy’s” are helping with activities during Holocaust Awareness Week to pay tribute to their Jewish heritage.
“We have been here through all of the genocides, all of the persecutions and we are going to have our voices heard,” Croll said.
Freshmen political science major Kate Johnston admitted to being a little nervous at the possibility of mispronouncing a name but wanted to read in remembrance of those who died.
“People suffered so much,” she said. “It’s the least we can do to show them respect and honor those people.”
Connie Winter-Eulberg, the Lutheran campus pastor, comes to the Litany of Martyrs to read each year to help herself remember.
Winter-Eulberg has twice taken students on trips to Germany during Spring Break to study the Christian response to the Holocaust. During one of those trips, she and her students stayed in the house where Martin Niemolier was arrested. Niemolier was a Lutheran pastor who was imprisoned in concentration camps for seven years and is famous for his poem, “First They Came for the Jews.”
The poem deals with the consequences of inaction, fitting precisely with the theme for the week, “Do not stand idly by.”
“I’m of German heritage,” Winter-Eulberg said. “Somewhere I have some unknown relative who contributed to this. We all have to remember so this won’t happen again.”
Staff writer Bob Shipton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“In Germany, they came for the Communists
I didn’t speak up then because I wasn’t a communist
Then they came for the Jews
I didn’t speak up then because I wasn’t a Jew
Then they came for the Trade Unionists
I didn’t speak up then because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist
Then they came for me
By that time, there was no one left to speak.”
– Pastor Martin Niemolier, survivor of Dachau