CORVALLIS - Oregon State University is marking its observance of Holocaust Memorial Week this month with one of strongest slate of speakers and programs since the university began commemorating the event 16 years ago, said Paul Kopperman, chair of OSU's Holocaust Memorial Committee.

"The speakers will first and foremost confront ethical issues," said Kopperman, who is also an OSU professor of history. "During the Holocaust, tens of millions of Europeans were confronted by a profound choice: Would they help the Jews? Would they help those who were working to destroy them? Would they do nothing? And whichever way they went, there is the question, 'Why?'"

Although the program will focus on the Holocaust, it will include a day of events on the Armenian Massacres of 1915-16.

"In recent programs, we have worked to increase awareness of just how widespread a problem genocide and mass murder has been over the past century. We do this by sponsoring a day of activities focused on some 20th-century episode of genocide other than the Holocaust."

About six million Jews and five million other civilians died at the hands of the Nazis and their allies during the Holocaust, which occurred before and during World War II. Homosexuals, Gypsies, the disabled, Jehovah's Witnesses, leftists, artists and others were targeted for persecution.

All events are free and open to the public. The schedule includes:

Sunday, April 7

  • 7:30 p.m.: "Christianities of Complicity and of Compassion," a talk by Lawrence Baron, professor of Jewish history, California State University, San Diego. He will focus on how the religious sense of strongly identifying European Christians was reflected in stances they took to assist Jews or those who worked to destroy them. Withycombe Auditorium.

Monday, April 8

  • 7 p.m.: Holocaust vigil on the north steps of the OSU Memorial Union. Speakers include Helen Berg, mayor of Corvallis and Danette Gillespie, head of the OSU Diversity Committee.


  • 8 p.m.: "Angel: A Nightmare in Two Acts," a play by Jo Davidsmeyer. Based on an actual case, the play studies the nature of evil and depicts the postwar trial of a former Nazi concentration camp guard, Irma Grese, whose angelic beauty contrasted with her violent nature. The play will be performed as reader's theater. Memorial Union East (Snell Hall).

Tuesday, April 9

  • Noon: "A Survivor's Story," by Itka Zygmuntowicz. Zygmuntowicz, a survivor of Auschwitz, will focus on her wartime experiences. A number of photos of concentration camps will be on exhibit and Rachel Becker, an OSU student, will read a letter written in April 1945 by an American soldier who, having participated in the liberation of Buchenwald, reported his impressions. MU East (Snell Hall).


  • 7:30 p.m.: "Twisted Cross: Were the Nazis Christians?" The presentation by Doris L. Bergen, associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame and board member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, will consider three perspectives - statistical, ideological, and institutional - as she examines the issue of whether the Nazis were Christians. Bergen's book, "Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich" has attracted worldwide attention. LaSells Stewart Center.

Wednesday, April 10

  • 7:30 p.m.: "Confronting Evil," a talk by Sibylle Niemoller von Sell focusing on the career of her late husband, Martin Niemoller, a primary figure in the Confessing Church during the 1930's. Pastor Niemoller was interned 1937-1945, mainly at Sachsenhausen and Dachau. A statement he made after the war gained him worldwide recognition: "They came for the Communists, and I didn't object - for I wasn't a Communist; They came for the Socialists, and I didn't object - for I wasn't a Socialist; They came for the trade unionists, and I didn't object - for I wasn't a trade unionist; They came for the Jews, and I didn't object - for I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me - And there was no one left to object." In addition to reflecting on her husband's career, Mrs. Niemoller will speak of her own wartime experiences, notably her participation in an underground group that attempted to rescue Jews in Germany. LaSells Stewart Center.

Thursday, April 11

  • 7:30 p.m.: Panel discussion, "A New Beginning?" Representatives of several Christian denominations will discuss what their respective churches have done in recent years to combat anti-Semitism. Participants will include the Rev. Timothy Stover, United Campus Ministry and Chris Anderson, a deacon at St. Mary's Catholic Church. Tom Sherry, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Institute of Religion, will moderate. LaSells Stewart Center.

Monday, April 15

  • 7:30 p.m.: "Reflections on Terezin," a lecture and panel discussion on the settlement the Nazis operated at Terezin (Theresienstadt) from 1941-45 to show that they were treating Jews humanely - only about 15 percent of the prisoners survived the war. The program includes a virtual tour of Terezin by Petra Penickova, a guide at the camp memorial, a talk by Paul Kopperman, OSU history professor on "The Terezin Lectures and the Theme of Jewish Resistance." Concluding the program, a panel, including Edgar Krasa, a survivor of the settlement, will discuss efforts by Jewish prisoners to maintain their culture in the ghetto at Terezin. LaSells Stewart Center.

Tuesday, April 16

  • 7:30 p.m.: "The Armenian Genocide as a Prototype," a talk by Richard G. Hovannisian, professor of Armenian and Near Eastern history at the University of California, Los Angeles. Hovannisian, author of the multi-volume study, "The Republic of Armenia," will talk about the Armenian Massacres of 1915-16 and relate them to the general theme of genocide in the 20th century. LaSells Stewart Center.

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Paul Kopperman, 541-737-1265