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Furman hosts national Holocaust exhibit, holds educational sessions

Last updated March 21, 2023

By Clinton Colmenares, Director of News and Media Strategy

“Americans and the Holocaust,” a traveling exhibit of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association, is open to the Furman University community and to the general public, now through April 25 in the James B. Duke Library on the university’s campus. Furman is one of 50 sites around the country chosen for the exhibit.

An opening reception will take place Friday, March 24th, 4-6 p.m., in the library. Furman University President Elizabeth Davis and Rabbi Samuel Rose from Temple of Israel will speak. Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be served. RSVP requested here.

The exhibit “examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war, and genocide,” according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum website.

“The Americans and the Holocaust exhibit provides a framework that, through study, and reflection, can promote compassion in our students and community for those experiencing war and genocide and can encourage a more robust response to escalating animosity toward refugees, immigrants, and minority groups in the United States and throughout the world,” said Caroline Mills, director of libraries at Furman.

While the Nazi party grew in Germany, America was still in the throes of the Great Depression. Many prominent Americans, including politicians and people with political aspirations, promoted isolationism. The exhibit asks two main questions: “What did Americans Know?” and “What more could have been done?” It presents public opinion polls about whether more Jewish refugees should be allowed into the United States, whether people thought Nazis were treating Jews fairly and attitudes about engaging in war.

The Furman University libraries are using the exhibition as a springboard for learning, working with faculty, local partners and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to identify experts in this field. Regional schools are bringing students in grades six through 12 to campus to experience the exhibit.

Several events are scheduled and open to the public. These include:

  • March 28, 6:30 p.m., bestselling author Edwin Black will discuss his research into the role that IBM played in the persecution and genocide of Europe’s Jews.
  • March 29, 7 p.m., Frank Baker and Esther Greenberg will give a presentation that addresses the challenges and opportunities of teaching about the Holocaust by focusing on the stories of Holocaust survivors.
  • March 31, 5:30 p.m., a short version of the Ken Burns’ film S. and the Holocaust, followed by panel discussion.

Additional details and other events can be found on the library’s website.

“One of the overarching goals of The Furman Advantage is to foster empathy and understanding in our students, and to create a connected community that is welcoming of diversity of thought and experiences,” said Beth Pontari, Furman’s interim provost and vice president of academic affairs. “This exhibit demonstrates how exceptional actions undertaken by a few individuals had widespread, positive impact on the course of history. It will galvanize our students’ commitment to the well-being of the global community and inspire them to make a lasting impact.”

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Clinton Colmenares
Director of News and Media Strategy