Holocaust Survivor Anita Schorr Keynote Speaker at UNH’s Holocaust Remembrance Day April 9
March 25, 2013
WEST HAVEN, CONN. --- Anita Schorr has two messages for UNH students, faculty, and staff when she speaks at the university’s 10th Annual Holocaust Remembrance event April 9: You must remember. But most important, you must act.
If someone is being bullied or marginalized, she said, “Step in. Be a hero. Don’t stay silent. Speak out. This takes guts, but it is what we must do as people.”
The ceremony – at 3 p.m. at the University Theater in Dodds Hall - will feature the reading of the names of relatives of UNH faculty and staff who perished in the Holocaust. “It is a very stirring ceremony,” said Ira Kleinfeld, UNH associate provost. More than 80 names will be read. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
Schorr, a Westport resident, is a Holocaust survivor who kept the story of her time in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen tucked inside her, out of the reach of others. But 20 years ago, after visiting the Holocaust Museum, listening to recordings of the stories of survivors and watching the powerful reaction in the room, she knew she had to share her story. “I found my voice,” she said. “Speaking about it is a way of honoring and immortalizing my family. And it keeps me strong.”
Kleinfeld said he felt compelled to ask Schorr to give the keynote address after hearing an earlier speech. “She said, `I can tell you my story, but how will you be different from hearing this? What will you do?’” he said. “The remembrance event is meant to make an impression on our students. It is for all of us to reflect and ask, `Do I have the courage to act?’”
Schorr’s brother and mother were taken to the gas chamber and murdered in Auschwitz, and her father was shot and killed just two days before the war ended. Schorr survived Auschwitz because her mother pushed her into a line of women who were being sent to slave labor in Hamburg. She was nearly 15 when she was liberated in Bergen-Belsen. She never saw her family again.
After liberation, Schorr lived in Prague, and a year later she joined Haganah, the Israeli underground. She then went to Israel to participate in the war for independence, living on a border kibbutz, a farming collective. “It was the most amazing thing. We would plant these seeds into the ground and they would grow into beautiful fruits and vegetables,” she said. “And at the same time, we were building a new country. This was the driving force that made me feel human again.”
“We also pay tribute to the righteous, those who risked everything to step in to help,” he said. This year they will honor Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish architect and diplomat, who is credited with saving the lives of 100,000 Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary, issuing special passports and sheltering them in Budapest properties designated by Wallenberg as Swedish territory.
Students in the UNH theater program will perform a reading of the lyrics of a famous Yiddish song, “Es Brent,” about a mob attack against Jews in Poland, as no one acted to intervene. Kleinfeld said the song has become a rallying cry not to stand idly by. “Don’t just stand there, brothers, with folded hands,” the lyrics read. “Don’t stand there, put out the fire!”
The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in New Mexico and California. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. The University enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.