Holocaust survivor Martin Lowenberg will share his powerful story during a Wednesday, March 25 appearance at Ferris State University as part of “Remembering the Holocaust,” a two-day event designed to raise awareness about the evils of genocide.
Lowenberg survived the Holocaust, but his parents and younger twin brothers were among six million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime during World War II. He will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the College of Business, Room 111. His presentation is free and open to the public.
“By highlighting the events of the Holocaust, we hope to draw attention to the realities of genocide and to encourage a dialogue of tolerance and peace,” said Charles Vannette, an associate professor in Ferris’ Department of Languages and Literature. “Attending the talk of a Holocaust survivor is an important and moving experience, and one that is becoming increasingly rare … Learning about the realities faced by people like Mr. Lowenberg gives us a different perspective on the actions of contemporary groups such as Boko Haram or ISIS.”
Lowenberg, 86, who now lives in Southfield, Mich., has made it his life’s mission to educate others about the atrocities of the Holocaust and how similar hatred exists today.
“People must not be intimidated if we stand united in defense of freedom and against hatred as long as intolerance exists,” Lowenberg said. “We will win.”
Lowenberg was just 5 years old when Adolf Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany in 1933. During the next 12 years, he endured unimaginable horrors under Hitler’s Nazi regime. His family was forced to leave their home and live under harsh conditions in a ghetto in Latvia. He and an older sister later were sent to separate slave labor camps, and their parents and nine-year-old brothers were taken to the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp in Germany, where they perished.
He spent his teenage years in five labor camps, subjected to harassment and hunger, torture and trauma. He was 17 and weighed just 76 pounds when the war ended and he was liberated.
Lowenberg shares the details of his experience “so we never forget,” he said.
“I speak so that students understand,” he said. “Hate is a horrible word. Love is a beautiful word. Hate hurts, and love heals.”
Lowenberg’s appearance highlights “Remembering the Holocaust,” an event being presented by the university’s German program, part of the Languages and Literature department within Ferris’ College of Arts, Sciences and Education.
The event begins Tuesday, March 24 with lectures by Ferris faculty members Barry Mehler, a professor of History, and Pasquale DiRaddo, a professor of Organic Chemistry and an expert on the use of imagery in propaganda.
Mehler will present “There But for Fortune: Tormented Memory” at 11 a.m. in the Interdisciplinary Resource Center, Room 109. DiRaddo will discuss “Understanding (?) the Holocaust through the Medium of Cartoon Imagery” at 7 p.m. in the Starr building, Room 120.
On Wednesday, March 25, Ferris students, faculty and staff, and Big Rapids area residents are invited to view and participate in “Remembering the Holocaust,” an exhibit planned from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Quad view area of the University Center. The exhibit will feature informational posters, biographical banners and a “Reading of Names” of Holocaust victims by Ferris students.
“Speaking the names of victims is a meaningful and symbolic way of remembrance, and of calling to mind not only the number of victims, but their individuality as well,” Vannette said.
Twenty-one posters provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. feature a timeline of the Holocaust, from Adolf Hitler’s election as German chancellor in 1933 to the war crime trials. A final poster addresses genocide in the post-Holocaust era.
Additionally, biographical banners created by Courtney Lauer, a sophomore from Harbor Springs, Mich., majoring in Graphic Design, also will be on display.
“The concept behind the banners Courtney is designing is to give a personal face and story to the Holocaust,” Vannette said. “The people who were killed had lives, lovers, jobs, children ... The victims Courtney is honoring came from all over Europe – women, men and children from different social and linguistic backgrounds who have very different stories to be told.”
“Remembering the Holocaust” is sponsored by the Department of Languages and Literature with support from the College of Arts, Sciences and Education and the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
For more information, visit the FSU Events Calendar, here.
PHOTO CAPTION: Martin Lowenberg, a survivor of the Holocaust, has spent the past 25 years speaking about his experiences. (Photo courtesy of the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Mich.)