May 20, 2024
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Heroines of the Holocaust Finally Brought Into the Spotlight

Groundbreaking international symposium at Wagner College changes our understanding of women’s central role in resistance and rescue.

(Courtesy of Wagner College) During the Holocaust, thousands of women engaged in acts of courage and defiance, saving individuals and entire communities. On June 14-16 2022, international scholars from 10 different countries will come together to celebrate and share the stories of these heroines. Organized by Professors Lori Weintrob and Laura Morowitz, the Wagner College Holocaust Center on Staten Island will play host to the symposium, featuring some of the world’s leading Holocaust experts, as well as survivors rescued by women. The two-day event will feature roundtables, panels, film screenings and an exhibition, as well workshops for educators on Staten Island.

“At a time when female agency and leadership are very much in the spotlight” stated Morowitz, “we want to expand the narrative and make sure the full range of women’s heroism during the Shoah and in other genocides is recognized.” With the partnership of the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, the symposium is also being sponsored by the USC Shoah Foundation and the Holocaust; Genocide and Interfaith Center; Manhattan College; with the participation of the Museum of Jewish Heritage and Remember the Women Institute; as well as other important Holocaust centers throughout Europe and the U.S.

Both Jewish and non-Jewish women fought defiantly to resist Nazi persecution and save lives. In what Holocaust scholar Judy Baumel Schwartz refers to as “a unique endeavor never before attempted,” the symposium brings together scholars and educators to highlight their research on over 20,000 female military strategists, nurses, lawyers, spies and courriers. From women partisans hiding in the forest, to ordinary women resisting in daily life, to women saboteurs in the death camps, an important outcome of the symposium, said Weintrob, “is the effort to identify a ‘canon’ of key Jewish and non-Jewish Holocaust heroines. Teaching and learning about these courageous women, including in their own words, can advance the goals of Holocaust education: to better understand how the Final Solution emerged, to remember the six million Jews killed, and to articulate the meaning of Auschwitz and its ongoing relevance to human rights struggles.”

In addition to the scholarly talks and panels, the two-day symposium features a screening of Roberta Grossman’s film “Who Will Write Our History,” an exhibition of tapestries by artist Linda Stein entitled “Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females,” and a keynote talk by Judy Batalion, author of the NYT beststeller The Light of Days (William Morrow, 2021)

Registration is open to all at: http://alumniconnect.wagner.edu/symposium2021 http://sites.google.com/wagner.edu/heroines

The mission of the Wagner College Holocaust Center is to promote empathy, courage and ethical decision-making in order to prevent antisemitism, racism and prejudice in all its forms. Founded in 2014, the WCHC has connected Holocaust survivors to over 6,000 youth in the tri-state area, as well producing an original play, “Rise Up: Young Holocaust Heroes.” The Center’s work has been recognized in Shira Stoll/silive.com’s NY-Emmy award winning film “Where Life Leads You,” also shown on PBS.

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