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From 1933 to 1945, more than two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population was sacrificed along with gypsies, homosexuals, physically disabled and anyone else who was considered to be socially unacceptable.
CSU students are presenting the ninth annual Holocaust Awareness Week beginning today through Friday. This year's theme is "60 years of Liberation: Every Face has a Number. Every Number has a Face" and will celebrate Holocaust survivors' accomplishments and struggles.
"This year's theme is focusing on the survivors. I think that that's so important as we get further away from the Holocaust and when it happened that there are going to be fewer people around to tell the firsthand stories and that's why we wanted to have this year's event," said Hedy Berman, director of Hillel, the Jewish student organization at CSU.
Flags representing those who lost their lives throughout the Holocaust were displayed Friday on the Natural Resources Building lawn. Each flag represents 5,000 lives and will be on display throughout the week.
"To look at the flags themselves is amazing, and to think of that (amount) times 5,000, and to think of the amount of people affected directly and indirectly, and that we are still to this day affected," said Jenn Christ, co-chair of Holocaust Awareness Week. "That's what it is all about, to keep their stories alive."
The week's events will begin with a panel of three Holocaust survivors who will share their stories at 7 p.m. today in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom. The event will be followed by a question-and-answer period.
The keynote speaker for this year's event will be Eva Kor, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp as well as founder of both the Holocaust Museum in Indiana and Children of the Auschwitz Nazi Lab Experiment Survivors (CANDLES), an organization designed to locate and reunite survivors of the twin medical experiments conducted at Auschwitz.
Kor will be speaking at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the student center north ballroom in a speech titled "Echoes from Auschwitz." She will relate her own and her sister's experiences as they were subjected to Dr. Josef Mengele's twin experiments. She will also present "My Long Journey to Healing" as part of the Women at Noon Series on Wednesday in student center room 230.
Mengele, often referred to as the Angel of Death, selected twins from platforms at Auschwitz, placed them within special barracks and then used them as experimental specimens. One twin would be used as a control while the other was to be subjected to experiments. One thousand five hundred sets of twins (3,000 children) were selected for the experiments; at liberation, around 200 were released. Today there are about 150 CANDLES members alive, according to the organization's Web site.
Events this week are designed to inform students about Holocaust awareness. Many will take place in the student center, including "The Litany of the Martyrs," where the names of people who were murdered in the Holocaust are read. These readings take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday.
"The Litany of Martyrs always has such a big impact being in the student center, with such high traffic at the time," said Katie Frey a junior psychology major and member of the awareness committee.
"It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more" – July 15, 1944 "The Diary of Anne Frank"