Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552
ahayes@semo.edu

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EVENTS AT SOUTHEAST PLANNED IN OBSERVANCE OF HOLOCAUST AWARENESS WEEK

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 15, 2002 – Hedy Epstein, a survivor of the Holocaust, and Jeany Soshnik, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, will participate in a panel discussion during one of the key events scheduled for April 3 to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Week April 1-3 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Epstein will make a keynote Common Hour presentation at noon on April 3 in Johnson Lecture Hall on the Southeast campus. She will talk about her Nazi Holocaust experiences, including her personal rescue in the Kindertransport, in which almost 10,000 children from Nazi Germany and Austria were transported to England between December 1938 and Sept. 1, 1939.

Epstein was separated from her family at age 14, when her parents sent her to England on the Kindertransport, and she never saw them again. In 1942, her family was sent to Auschwitz and were never heard from again.

Once the war was over, Epstein went back to Germany to work for the American government at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, which tried the doctors accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp inmates. In 1948, Epstein came to the United States and became active professionally and personally in causes of civil and human rights and social justice. She began speaking to audiences in 1970 and currently works as a docent for the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. Her topics include her Nazi Holocaust experiences, her work at the Nuremberg Medical Trial, her separation from her parents, present-day genocides and related subjects.

Later on April 3, Epstein will join Soshnik and Dr. Mitchel Gerber, Southeast professor of political science, for a panel discussion at 3 p.m. in Glenn Auditorium in Dempster Hall.

Soshnik is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. She will discuss her mother's experience of being rescued by the Aux Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE), a major Jewish organization of the French resistance, which saved thousands of children in France. She lives with her family in St. Louis and is a docent at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center.

Gerber, who has studied the Holocaust and teaches a specialized upper-level University Studies course at Southeast on the Holocaust, will serve as the moderator and will discuss the multiple courageous roles of women in the French resistance, primarily based upon his scholarly research of oral videotaped testimonies in the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Sterling Library, Yale University.

“The critical point of Holocaust Remembrance Week is that it is not just another horrific historic event of the forgotten past. Rather, it teaches us valuable ethical lessons about humanity and the human condition,” Gerber said. “The horrors of genocide are unfortunately with us today, and by studying and reflecting upon the Holocaust we should be able to learn how to transcend such atrocities.”

On April 1, the film “Into the Arms of Strangers” will be shown at 7 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. This Academy Award winning documentary chronicles the lives of children saved through the Kindertransport. Narrated by Judi Dench and directed by Mark Jonathan Harris, this devastating and deeply moving film bears witness to the kindness of these "simply wonderful people" and to the resilience of the children, now elderly, who recall in haunting stories the unimaginable grief of being suddenly torn from their parents, the trauma of not knowing whether they would ever see them again, and the difficulties some faced in their new homes. Epstein is interviewed and appears in this film.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Mitchel Gerber at (573) 651-2694.

 

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