Holocaust Studies Newsletter - Spring 2014

March 12-14 Seventh Annual Powell-Heller Conference: Survivors and Rescuers

This year’s Powell-Heller Conference for Holocaust Education will emphasize stories of survivors and the role of rescuers during WWII. Pierre Sauvage, a child survivor and child of survivors, will present works based on his feature documentary, Weapons of the Spirit, which begins the program on March 12.

Members of the Brill family, survivors of Exodus 1947 will discuss the ship that almost never landed. Scholars including Dr. Susanna Heschel, Dr. Christopher Browning, Dr. Helmut Lehmann will join Dr. Robert Ericksen in Ericksen’s retirement year. Survivor Renee Firestone and rescuer Nellie Trocme Hewett will also present talks during the three-day conference. Ilana Cone-Kennedy and Nick Coddington have prepared a Friday morning dual-track experience for teachers and high school students to explore teaching and learning the lessons of the Holocaust. Teachers seeking credit or clock hours are encouraged to attend.

Clock hours will be provided free of charge upon request, and credit can be earned through coursework monitored by Dr. Frank Kline, PLU Dean for the School of Education and Kinesiology. Registration is requested for this free conference. There will be opportunities for a few shared meals at a nominal cost. Registration and additional schedule information available at www.plu.edu/holocaustconference-2017

The Kurt Mayer Summer Student Fellowship Winners for 2013

Julia Walsh, ’14, History Major

Julia Walsh is a budding young scholar of the Holocaust and a multiple winner of Holocaust Study awards at PLU. She won second place in the Raphael Lemkin Student Essay Contest in 2012 and first place in 2013. She also was one of two Kurt Mayer Summer Student Fellows in 2012, before being selected again for the summer of 2013. Julia received a prestigious appointment to spend one week in July at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, working on documents of the International Tracing Service now in the possession of the Museum. Julia was one of fourteen students accepted for this opportunity, which is usually available only to students at the MA or PhD level.

Walsh studied “Trends in the Study of Holocaust Perpetrators.” She explored trends in perpetrator studies, focusing on changes over time as seen in the work of individual scholars, such as Christopher Browning and Hannah Arendt. As she writes, “Trends in historiography matter, because the trends in the subject matter in any field reveal deeper meanings in the subject and deeper meanings in humanity. . . . Perpetrators are human. That is their terrible secret–not that they are aberrant to human nature, but that they are not so.”

Kelsey Mejlaender, ’14, History Major

Kelsey Mejlaender arrived at PLU in 2011 with advanced placement credits, so that she is now approaching her senior year. She has maintained a rare and impressive 4.0 grade point average and has worked as a History tutor for other students on campus. This is her first receipt of a Holocaust Studies award. She studied “Nazi Treatment of Black American and Jewish American POWs.”

It is widely noted that American, British and French POWs received far better treatment during World War II than did Russian POWs or other captured troops from central and Eastern Europe. This reflected Nazi ideas on race and their assumption of the inferiority of Slavic peoples. Kelsey has noted, however, the brutal treatment often accorded to Black American and Jewish American POWs by their Nazi captors. Her research includes an overview of Nazi treatment of western prisoners of war and points out examples of the mistreatment of Jewish and Black American prisoners, finishing with the case of Luther Smith, a black American member of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Rachel Samardich, ’14, Peace and Justice Studies, and Hispanic Studies Double Major

Rachel Samardich, a participant in the International Honors program at PLU, has worked closely with Professor Beth Kraig of the History Department to create an individualized major in Peace and Justice Studies. She also has studied away in the PLU “Gateway” program at Oaxaca, Mexico.

She studied “Past, Present, and Future: Peacebuilding in Israel/Palestine.” Samdardich’s research seeks to answer the following question, “Are there events in the shared Jewish (and eventual Israeli) and Palestinian history that may have engaged both communities in cycles of violence and victimization? If so, what are they?” Additionally, under the assumption that children are the future of any nation, are there organizations that are engaging Palestinian and Israeli children in peace-related activities? Rachel employs historical texts, conflict theories and models, and case studies of children’s organizations to answer these questions.

Student Opportunities for 2014

Students are encouraged to submit an essay on Holocaust or genocide to the Raphael Lemkin Student Essay Contest. The deadline for submissions will be Feb. 21, 2014. Check the PLU website of the Social Science Division for further details. First and second place winners will be awarded cash prizes on March 13, at the Seventh Annual Powell and Heller Family Holocaust Conference.

The Sixth Annual Kurt Mayer Summer Student Fellowships will be awarded for summer 2014. Applications will be due approximately late March or early April. Check on details with the History Department by early March.

Students are encouraged to attend the Seventh Annual Powell and Heller Family Holocaust Conference. It will take place March 12-14 under the theme of “Rescue and Survival.”