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Holocaust art and writing ceremony attracts overflow crowd to Memorial Hall

March 10, 2010

From the moving words of featured speaker Curt Lowens — Holocaust survivor, rescuer and now a distinguished actor — to those of the young student award-winners themselves, is there any wonder why Memorial Hall was packed March 5 for the 11th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest Award Ceremony?

Lowens, who recently played a former Nazi in the ABC series Flash Forward, told of hiding from the SS in German-occupied Holland and working with the resistance to help rescue Jews. He spoke directly to the middle- and high-school students on hand when he said, “From one moment to the next, it was an ugly time. You lose your friends, your mates and your rights because the government rules you are evil.”

Holocaust survivor and rescuer Curt Lowens, with the grandmother of a contest winner, a Japanese-American internee during WWII.

He went on to advise the attendees, “As you make your own choices about your path in society, when things go wrong, don’t be discouraged. Remain alert and flexible, and please, may I ask, continue to preserve the memories to help prevent other disasters.”

Also on hand were members of the 1939 Club, whose videotaped testimonies inspired the students’ contest entries, which took the form of essays, poems, paintings and other artistic works. The students and survivors got a chance to meet and mingle after the ceremony at a reception in Beckman Hall.

Among the essay winners was a high-school student who wore the navy-blue pea coat that was given to his grandmother when she was sent from California with other Japanese-Americans to an internment camp in Arkansas.

Congratulations on another extremely moving event to everyone involved — especially Professor Marilyn Harran, Ph.D., and all the staff of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education.

After the ceremony, Dr. Harran said she hoped the students would go home with a renewed understanding that history lives and breathes and that memory has meaning.

And the Holocaust survivors?

“They have a sense of hope that their stories will not be forgotten.”

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