Powell-Heller Conference for Holocaust Education

Women and the Holocaust

Free and Open to the Public. Please register online to help with our planning.

 7:00 p.m. – Music of Remembrance (Eastvold Auditorium, Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts)

Free and open to the public.

Music of Remembrance presents a community-wide free concert at the Eastvold Auditorium at Pacific Lutheran University. The concert launches the 2016 Powell-Heller Holocaust Conference on Women and the Holocaust.

The Music of Remembrance program complements the conference theme with a program of works that open a window into the emotional lives of women trapped in the web of Holocaust tragedy. The featured work, Another Sunrise (2012), by contemporary American composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, paints a powerful portrait of survival through the true story of one woman, Krystyna Zywulska.  A resistance fighter, Auschwitz survivor, poet and lyricist, Zywulska wrote daring poems in Auschwitz that became anthems of defiance among her fellow prisoners.  Soprano Sarah Davis portrays Zywulska in this one-woman musical drama directed by Erich Parce.

Directed by Mina Miller.

Download the Program

8:15 p.m. – Dessert Reception (Eastvold Auditorium Lobby, KHP)

A dessert reception will be held following the musical performances.

9:00 a.m. – Registration and coffee  (Gray Area outside of Regency Room, Anderson University Center)

10:00 – 11:40 a.m. – Women as Perpetrators (Regency Room, AUC)
Scholars will present the latest analysis of the role of women as perpetrators of Nazi crimes. The study of women as being active persecutors has long been neglected by most historians, who tended to associate women as traditional caregivers and nurturers incapable of participating in acts of oppression and murder.


  • Pauline Kaurin, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Holocaust and Genocide Studies faculty, PLU


  • Beth Griech-Polelle, The Kurt Mayer Chair in Holocaust Studies, PLU
  • Daniel Patrick Brown, author of The Beautiful Beast: The Life & Crimes of SS-Aufseherin Iram Grese (2004) and The Camp Women: The Female SS Auxiliaries Who Assisted the SS in Running the Nazi Concentration Camp System (2002).
  • Shelly Cline, public historian of the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education
    Title: “Women at Work: The SS Aufseherinnen and the Gendered Perpetration of the Holocaust”

11:45 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.* – Mayer Summer Research Fellow presentation (AUC 133)
Carli Snyder ‘17 has been a recipient of the Mayer Summer Research Fellowship two years in a row. Her presentation will reflect her research interests in studying women, gender studies and the Holocaust. Poster session: Sophia Mahr ’18 and Kate Wiley ’18 will be presenting summaries of their Mayer Summer Research projects at the lunch as well.


  • Rona Kaufman, Associate Professor of English, PLU

Kurt Mayer Summer Research Fellows:

  • Carli Snyder ’17, 2015
  • Sophia Mahr ’18, Carli Snyder ’17 and Kate Wiley ’18 – 2016

* box lunches (11:45 a.m. – 12:20 p.m.)

12:30 – 1:35 p.m. – Sexual Violence against Jewish Women (Regency Room, AUC)
Nazi propaganda presented a stark ideology that stressed absolute separation of Aryans and Jews. Their argument was the Jews polluted anything they came into contact with and therefore, many scholars in the post-World War II environment simply assumed that Aryan men would not have committed rapes against Jewish women. New research suggests that Jewish women were still targeted for sexual violence by Aryan men.


  • Jennifer Smith, Director of Center for Gender Equity and Affiliate Faculty Member in Women’s and Gender Studies, PLU


  • Sonja Hedgepeth, co-author, Sexual Violence against Jewish Women
    Title: “Struggling Against Disbelief: Sexual Violence Against Jewish Women During the Holocaust”

1:45 – 3:30 p.m. – Survivor Testimony (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC)
One of the most valuable and powerful resources for historians are the living eyewitnesses to Nazi atrocities. Survivors speak not only for themselves but also for those victims whose voices were silenced. Mrs. Agi D. will speak about her experiences as a hidden child in Hungary during the war.


  • Ilana Cone Kennedy, Director of Education at the Holocaust Center for Humanity, Seattle, Washington


  • Mrs. Agi D., born in Yugoslavia, hidden in Hungary as a child.

3:45 – 5 p.m. – Women as Rescuers and Collaborators (Regency Room, AUC)
Recent studies have revealed how complex women’s roles were under Nazi domination. In this panel, we have an opportunity to witness how women as members of organized Catholic religious institutions responded to the discrimination and persecution of their Jewish neighbors and students.


  • Robert Ericksen, Kurt Mayer Chair in Holocaust Studies (emeritus)


  • Martina Cucchiara, Assistant Professor of History, Bluffton University, Ohio
    Title: “Antisemitism as such did not exist” Jewish and Catholic Girls in Private Convent Schools in Nazi Germany, 1933-38
  • Suzanne Vromen, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Bard College, New York
    Title: “Belgian Nuns and their Rescue of Jewish Children”

5:15 – 6:30 p.m. – Pre-Keynote Reception $30 (Scandinavian Center, AUC)

Join PLU Holocaust and Genocide Studies faculty, conference speakers and other attendees for a pre-keynote reception with a delicious light fare—Register here

6:45 – 7:00 p.m. – Musical Performance (Regency Room, AUC)

PLU Music students, Miya Higashiyama ’17, mezzo soprano and Austin Baduria, alto saxophonist, will perform “The Butterfly” and “The Old House” from American composer Lori Laitman’s, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly.”

7:00 p.m. – Keynote: “Jewish Women as Couriers in the Resistance” (Regency Room, AUC)


  • Christopher R. Browning, Frank Porter Graham Professor Emeritus of History, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Dr. Lenore Weitzman, a distinguished scholar, will discuss her latest research on the role that Jewish women played as couriers in the Resistance movement.

8:15 p.m. – Dessert reception (Gray area outside Regency Room, AUC)

8:30 a.m. – Registration and coffee (Gray area outside Regency Room, AUC)

9:00 – 10:15 a.m. – Women as Survivors (Regency Room, AUC)
The Nazis intended to leave no survivors in the wake of the Holocaust hoping to silence all voices of suffering and trauma. Thankfully, survivors are still with us today- through their writings, such as the works of Charlotte Delbo, who sought to find the words to describe the hell which they experienced. This panel will also feature the voice of a second-generation daughter of a survivor of Theresienstadt ghetto. Despite unimaginable suffering, survivors continue to share their knowledge in order to inspire us to continue to fight against injustice.


  • David Simpson, Assistant Professor of Social Work, PLU


  • Patrick Henry, Cushing Eells Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Literature, Whitman College, Washington
    Title: “Seeing Things Differently: Community and Theatre in Charlotte Delbo’s ‘Auschwitz and After'”
  • Dee Simon, Baral Family Executive Director, Holocaust Center for Humanity, Seattle, Washington
    Simon is a second generation survivor. Her mother was interned in Theresienstadt during WWII.

10:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Reconsidering Anne Frank (Regency Room, AUC)
For many people, their first encounter with studying about the Holocaust comes when they read The Diary of Anne Frank in middle school. As such, Anne Frank has become one of the most iconic images of a victim of the Holocaust. In this panel, our presenters will challenge some of the conventional ways Anne Frank has been portrayed and make suggestions about new ways of teaching the classic work.


  • Kirsten Christensen, Associate Professor of German and Director of Holocaust and Genocide Studies program, PLU


  • F.K. Clementi, Associate Professor of English and Jewish Studies, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
    Title: “A Feminist Reading of Anne Frank’s Diary: Unexplored Perspectives”
  • Lisa Marcus, Professor of English and Faculty Affiliate, Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, PLU
    Title: “The Anne Frank Project: Anne in the Classroom”
  • Lexi Jason ’17, PLU undergraduate student, HGST minor

12:30 – 2:15 p.m. – Rebuilding Lost Polish/Jewish Connections in the School of Dialogue Program (Chris Knutzen Hall, AUC)
This panel will join the voices of the Director of International Relations, Forum for Dialogue in Poland, with PLU Peace Scholars who have been studying strategies for bringing about a more peaceful resolution to conflicts. Our hope is that our audience members will leave this conference feeling that there are ways to make the world a better place.


  • Ann Kelleher, Professor Emeritus, PLU


  • Olga Kaczmarek, Director of International Relations, Forum for Dialogue, Poland
  • Ellie Lapp ’17 and Taylor Bozich ’17, 2015 PLU Peace Studies Fellows
  • Ariel Wood ’17 and Theo Hofrenning ’17, 2016 PLU Peace Studies Fellows