The Holocaust Living History Workshop (HLWH) at the University of California San Diego once again launches a year-long series of educational events that will focus on the theme, The Possibility of Renewal: The Shoah Between Past, Present, and Future. This year’s programming, presented by the UC San Diego Library and the UC San Diego Jewish Studies Program, will unearth how renewal is possible in the wake of genocide, shed light on what it means for a defeated people to resurrect its past, and explore the roles of memory and justice in the process of renewal.
HLHW events are designed to broaden understanding of the past, foster tolerance, and preserve the memory of victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Each month, members of the public and campus community are invited to attend the events to hear personal stories and memories from Holocaust survivors, witnesses, relatives, and scholars. In accordance with this year’s theme, many of the 2017-18 speakers will remind us that while the massive destruction wrought by the Holocaust cannot be diminished, the attempt to move beyond catastrophe and rebuild life and culture deserves recognition as well. All events are free and held on the UC San Diego campus in Geisel Library’s Seuss Room from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
October 11—Like Shadows Walking: Liberating Treblinka with the Red Army with Jacob Sandbrand
The first event this fall will be held on Wednesday, October 11, featuring Jacob Sandbrand who was barley 16 years old when he was forced to enlist in the Red Army. Sandbrand grew up in Kolomyia, a town formerly located in Eastern Poland considered to be in the “bloodlands”— the part of Eastern Europe that suffered the worst socio-political turmoil in the late 1930s and 40s. In September 1939, Kolomyia succumbed to Soviet invasion and its people—many of whom were Jewish—quickly became Soviet citizens, including Jacob. During his time in the Red Army, Sandbrand took part in the push westward and in the summer of 1944 he helped liberate Treblinka, a name that has come to epitomize the horrors of the Holocaust. Sandbrand will share his experience serving in the Red Army and how it felt to liberate a Nazi extermination camp.
November 15—Tales Retold: Holocaust Survivors on Schindler’s List with Jeffrey Shandler
Sponsored by Daniel and Phyllis Epstein
On Wednesday, November 15, the HLHW series will feature Jeffrey Shandler a professor in the department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University and a leading authority on Jewish culture past and present. His newest work, Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age: Survivors’ Stories and New Media Practices, explores how Holocaust survivors’ life stories are informed by other narratives with which they are familiar. Through an in-depth study of the largest and most widely available collection of videotaped interviews with survivors and other witnesses to the Holocaust, the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive, Shandler weighs the possibilities and challenges brought about by digital forms of public memory.
Since its establishment in 2008, the HLHW has gone beyond teaching the history of the Holocaust through face-to-face interactions at the monthly lecture series by engaging the public through the Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive. The Archive was created by filmmaker Steven Spielberg to document the stories of Holocaust survivors for his movie, Schindler’s List. In 1994, Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to collect and preserve firsthand accounts of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. The foundation became the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education in 2006.
The UC San Diego Library is one of only three university libraries on the West Coast to have access to the Visual History Archive, which includes 52,000 digital oral testimonies. Members of the campus community and the public can access the testimonies housed in the Archive, which come from 40,000 specific geographic locations in languages ranging from Bulgarian and Greek to Japanese and Spanish, from any computer on the UC San Diego campus.