Standing by their mission to promote a spirit of multiculturalism on campus, the Francis Marion University Multicultural Advisory Committee educated students, staff and faculty on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Jan. 27.
The program, held in the Lowrimore Auditorium, consisted of a short history of the Holocaust and several individual stories of victims and survivors read by faculty and students. The stories told first-person narratives of what it was like to live through the Holocaust and experience the Nazi’s hatred towards anyone considered different.
Participants of the remembrance program also watched a short but stirring video from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum that chronicled what life was like inside a concentration camp for both victims and Nazi guards. The film asked viewers to ponder the question of man’s capacity for evil.
Larry Falck, FMU media production and web design coordinator, participated in the program by sharing a personal story about his grandfather, a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who lived in Germany. According to Falck, when the Nazis began burning Jewish synagogues in Germany, his grandfather lived in an apartment above one of the only synagogues that was not burnt to the ground. Falck’s grandfather was saved only because the Nazis did not want to risk burning the German store next door to the building.
After speaking, Falck lit six candles and held a moment of silence so participants could quietly reflect on the effects of the Holocaust. Over six million Jewish people are estimated to have died during the Holocaust, in which Adolf Hitler and his Nazi followers went about the systematic annihilation of Jews in Europe.
Falck said it is vitally important to hold events remembering the causes of the Holocaust so that people can become educated, especially since Holocaust education is being cut from public schools.
“There is still discrimination, there is still genocide, there are still people persecuting others, just because of who they are and not the content of their character,” Falck said. “As we move further away from the Holocaust, as we lose survivors, it’s important to remember.”
Many of the students who attended the program were unsure of what to expect, but most said they walked away with a better understanding and appreciation of the events surrounding the Holocaust and the plight of the people who experienced the atrocity.
Hannah Rivers, a FMU junior majoring in psychology, said the event was very emotional but also educational and thought-provoking.
“It made my friend and I wonder if we have any German or Jewish family members who may have lived through the Holocaust,” Rivers said.
Matthew McDaniel, a junior from Florence Darlington Technical College, attended the program with a friend and was surprised to learn details about the Holocaust that he had never known.
“I learned a lot that I didn’t know before,” McDaniel said. “It’s important to remember, even if you’re not personally connected with anyone from that time, because if it was you, you would want to be remembered.”
According to U.S. Holocaust Museum the United Nations General Assembly designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005. The date marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. The U.N. hope the remembrance day will serve as an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era. Every member nation of the U.N. has an obligation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and develop educational programs as part of an international resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide.
Those looking to learn more about the Holocaust and its ramifications can go to http://www.ushmm.org/ and explore the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which is located in Washington, D.C.