Holocaust Awareness Series

April 10-14, 2017 • The Price of Prejudice

The Holocaust Awareness Series is an interdisciplinary forum of events and seminars that investigates facets of modern genocide and roughly coincides with the commemorations surrounding the Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust. Our programs focus on the origins, events, and experiences of genocide in the modern era, looking not only at all of the groups systematically targeted by the Nazi regime, but also by those who were the victims of government-sponsored atrocities such as the Armenian Genocide, the Cambodian Genocide, ethnic cleansing and genocide in Rwanda, Iraq, and the Balkan region, and the current genocides taking place in Nigeria, Myanmar, and the Sudan. Our goal is to bring together local Grand Junction residents with the Colorado Mesa University academic community, emphasizing issues of education, respect, and diversity. Once again, we will host a Field of Flags display on the central campus, which represents the different groups targeted during the Holocaust. In addition to programs scheduled for the CMU Main campus, at least one will be offered on the CMU Montrose campus.

All of these events are free and open to the general public.

Schedule of Events

Moment of Silence Dedication for the Field of Flags Display

Monday, April 10 • 10:50am • CMU Main Campus, College Center Field

Sponsored by the Social and Behavioral Sciences Dept. of Colorado Mesa University and constructed by many volunteers, the Field of Flags display on the campus green southwest of the University Center presents over 2,000 flags representing the major groups targeted by the Nazis during World War II, including Jews, Poles, Soviet Citizens, homosexuals, Communists/Socialists, Jehovah Witnesses, Freemasons, Roma, Sinti, and the disabled. Each flag represents 5,000 individuals and the colors match the various known color schemes used by the Nazis. Flags will be displayed the entire week, from Monday, April 10 through Saturday, April 15. Grand Junction Pipe and Supply generously donated the flags. Members of the Gay-Straight Alliance created the posted signs with details about the Field of Flags.

"What is the Cost of 'Alternative Facts'? The Eternal Jew and the Consequences of Cinematic Propaganda"
Vincent V. Patarino Jr. (Assistant Professor of History, CMU)

Monday, April 10 • 5:30-7:30pm • CMU Main Campus, Houston 139

Since the 2016 presidential election, white supremacist groups have infiltrated the mainstream of American society, alongside symbols such as Pepe the Frog, dismissive epithets like "snowflakes", attacks on the media, and the rise of "alternative facts." During the Second World War, Nazi Germany used sophisticated propaganda techniques to display its own brand of "alternative facts." One of the clearest examples of how they laid the groundwork for the Holocaust was through the production and distribution of a film titled Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew). Originally produced in 1940 under the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, Der Ewige Jude remains illegal to screen in Germany. The film, still a powerful if not disturbing piece of propaganda, serves as a precaution for any society willing to accept blindly "alternative facts." This presentation will include a short lecture on the background of Nazi film propaganda, along with a discussion after the film.

"The Holocaust: A Shoah Like No Other or Just Another Genocide?"
Adam T. Rosenbaum (Assistant Professor of History, CMU)

Monday, April 10 • 5:30-7pm • CMU Campus, Montrose Library Community Room

The Holocaust, the attempted extermination of Europe's Jews by Nazi Germany and its allies during the Second World War, is one of the most significant events of our times. Like the French Revolution, it represents a turning point in modern history, marking a rupture between the world which existed before and the one that followed. While some scholars continue to emphasize the uniqueness of the Holocaust, pointing to the central role of the death camps, the systematic and bureaucratic character of the "Final Solution," or the Nazis' obsessive determination to rid the world of the Jewish people, the Holocaust was clearly not the only instance of twentieth-century genocide, either before, during, or (most obviously) after the Second World War. This historiographical essay will address the simple question: was the Holocaust unique, or just an extreme example of a larger phenomenon? Discussion will follow.

"Hannah Arendt and The Origins of Totalitarianism: Lessons for Today?"
Tim Casey (Professor of Political Science, CMU) & Bill Flanik (Assistant Professor of Political Science),

Tuesday, April 11 • 4:30-6:30pm • CMU Main Campus, Houston 139

Genocides and mass atrocities often follow a shift from pluralistic to totalitarian politics. How does totalitarianism arise, and to what extent do we see these mechanisms at work in contemporary politics? This workshop will address those questions with respect to the current political climate. The workshop will begin with Dr. Bill Flanik leading participants in a discourse analysis of a key text from the so-called "white nationalist" movement. The activity will highlight how white supremacists have gained entry into mainstream political discourse by adopting key frames from constitutional liberalism and even the civil rights movement. Following a brief clip from the film Hannah Arendt, Dr. Tim Casey will then lead participants in a discussion of Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism. A discussion about the implications of Arendt's analysis will follow.

"Dear Holocaust: Heartache, Hope, and Healing"
Jessica Bertrand (Instructor of English, CMU/WCCC),

Tuesday, April 11 • 6:30-9pm • CMU Main Campus, Houston 139

Letters have played an integral role in the communication process for centuries. In the case of the Holocaust, letters reveal how people reacted to the events before, during, and after the genocide. One letter reveals how a mother's desperation led her to ship a daughter to England on the Kindertransport. Another discloses how a Catholic German army conscript was given the death sentence for being a conscientious objector. Other German soldiers wrote of their superiority, while American soldiers related what they have seen to family back home, trying to make sense of the horror. In the meantime, Jewish men and women wrote notes on any scrap of paper they could find, begging people to mail them. In other cases, families struggled to find lost loved ones only to realize that many would not return at all. Years later, they found their salvation in the grateful hearts and letters of school children. This will be an interactive presentation, revolving around the reading of letters and discussion.

"Hitler Used 'Fake News' Too"
Eric Sandstrom (Assistant Professor of Mass Communication, CMU),

Wednesday, April 12 • 4:30-6:30pm • CMU Main Campus, Houston 139

American journalists have suggested strong parallels between Hitler's propaganda machine and today's Breitbart News. This right-wing news organization has been accused by the Southern Poverty Law Center (and other organizations) of representing white nationalists and racists by publishing "fake news" stories that endorse certain political agendas and spread unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. This presentation will explore the following questions: How did "fake news" help Hitler brainwash 80 million Germans? What role does social media play in the today's world? Where does the Freedom of Information Act enter the picture? Based on analysis of existing research, expert opinions, and historical reports, this presentation will endeavor to address these important questions in a fair and impartial way. After providing as much factual evidence as possible, the presenter will invite the audience to weigh in on these questions.

"The Holocaust as Heirloom: The Perspective of the Granddaughter of Survivors"
Kristin Heumann (Assistant Professor of Kinesiology, CMU),

Wednesday, April 12 • 6:30-9pm • CMU Main Campus, Houston 139

This presentation promises a different sort of insight into issues of survival, memory, and generations. Dr. Kristin Heumann will discuss the story of her grandparents, Holocaust survivors whose parents were murdered during the Second World War. Detailing both the history of her family in Germany and how certain people were able to escape, Dr. Heumann will also address the contentious issue of why some family members were unable to get out in time. This presentation will include clips from an interview with her grandmother, photos of her family, and other related documents. It will conclude with remarks on how the shadow of the Holocaust has impacted her personally, as well as comments about the importance of speaking for others who do not have a voice. Discussion will follow.

"Aestheticizing the Holocaust: Art Spiegelman's Graphic Novel, Maus"
Barry Laga (Professor of English, CMU),

Thursday, April 13 • 4:30-6:30pm • CMU Main Campus, Houston 139

On one hand, there is an intense desire to document and historicize the Holocaust. On the other hand, the Holocaust becomes unknowable, beyond our conceptual reach. This presentation will address these competing desires by discussing Art Spiegelman's Maus, a work that reminds us that aestheticizing the past is not an apolitical or benign affair. With his graphic novel, Spiegelman provides us with a kind of history that seems to move between presence and absence, asserting a tangible past while undermining its very possibility. In other words, instead of presenting Maus as an accurate record of the past, Spiegelman highlights its fictive and second-hand nature. History, even of the Holocaust, is inevitably a construct that is mediated in an infinite number of ways, with dire consequences. Spiegelman wants to show us the seams of history, the places where cause and effect are stitched together. Discussion will follow.

Screening of My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes
sponsored by CMU Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta

Thursday, April 13 • 6:30-9pm • CMU Main Campus, Houston 139

The 2014 documentary, My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes, recounts how Italian citizens helped to rescue Jews, partisans, and refugees in Nazi-occupied Italy. Director and writer Oren Jacoby tells these stories with the help of archival film footage, dramatic reenactments, and interviews with those involved, including several survivors who return to Italy to confront the nightmares from which they escaped. One of these stories involves Gino Bartali, a Tour de France-winning cyclist, who helped to transfer documentation for hidden Jews in the frame of his bicycle while pretending to train for a competition. It was only much later in his life that Bartali told his family and friends of his heroic but dangerous actions during World War II. A discussion focused on issues of memory, responsibility, and nationalism will follow.