Mar 012009
Authors: Scott Callahan

Student volunteers laid down row upon row of colored flags on a small patch of grass near the Plaza Friday afternoon, each representing 5,000 victims of the Holocaust.

The planting of the 2,200 flags — separated by color, which represent groups of Holocaust victims — kicked off the 13th annual Holocaust Awareness Week.

Molly Zwerdlinger, director of Holocaust Awareness Week, said that the Field of Flags allows people to visualize the scale of deaths caused by the genocide.

“We do it to bring a visual to a number,” Zwerdlinger said. “When you look at a number you think one is just one. But when you think about it in a larger context like the holocaust, one is actually a person, and one flag . is actually five thousand people.”

The flags, in total, represent the approximately 11 million people who were killed during the Holocaust. In comparison, only 22 flags can represent the Fort Collins’ population.

But Zwerdlinger said the flags also speak to another purpose, saying the Field of Flags “(brings) awareness about the current genocides occurring.”

“Holocausts are still happening,” Zwerdlinger said. “By showing people how and what happened in World War II, hopefully it will prevent what’s going on now.”

The flags, which are separated into groups of yellow, red, orange, blue, white, pink, green, brown and black, represent Jews, Soviets, Polish civilians, Gypsies, people with disabilities, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, political prisoners and German/Africans, respectively.

The flags are set to remain on the lawn all week as Holocaust Awareness events take place. Events, speakers and presentations will be held to tell people about the Holocaust and genocides.

The week is sponsored by Hillel, Students for Holocaust Awareness, the Associated Students of CSU, and the Association for Student Activity Programming, along with other student organizations.

Scott Wisor, an advisor to the Sudan Divestment Task Force, will speak about current genocides worldwide Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Cherokee Ballroom of the Lory Student Center.

Other speakers include Walter Plywaski and Doris Fedrid, who will tell their story of surviving the Holocaust.

Also, a list of names of those who perished during the Holocaust will be read by volunteers in the Sunken Lounge of the LSC on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, starting at 10 a.m. each day.

Holocaust Awareness Week will conclude Friday with a memorial service consisting of candle lighting, readings, songs, prayers and poetry.

For more information about Holocaust Awareness Week visit

Staff writer Scott Callahan can be reached at

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