UNI, Mount Mercy plan Holocaust remembrance events - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UNI, Mount Mercy plan Holocaust remembrance events

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Renee Firestone will speak at Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids Renee Firestone will speak at Mount Mercy in Cedar Rapids

Two speakers will discuss their experiences with the Holocaust at two eastern Iowa colleges during Holocaust Remembrance Week.

At the University of Northern Iowa, Howard Reich -- arts and jazz critic for the Chicago Tribune and a child of Holocaust survivors -- will present the fifth-annual Norman Cohn Family Holocaust Remembrance and Education Lecture.

Reich's lecture is at 7:30 p.m., Monday, April 15, in Sabin Hall, Room 002, on the UNI campus.

Reich will present excerpts from and discuss his film, "Prisoner of Her Past," based on his book "The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich." The film documents his mother's late-onset PTSD resulting from her experiences during the Holocaust and Howard Reich's own journey to learn about his mother's story of survival.

A question-and-answer period, book signing and reception will follow the lecture, which is made possible by the ongoing support of Norman Cohn, a native of Waterloo and a graduate of UNI.

In Cedar Rapids, Mount Mercy University will host special guest and Holocaust survivor Renee Firestone.

Her lecture will be on Tuesday, April 16, from 7– 9 p.m. in the Chapel of Mercy, as part of the Holocaust Speaker Series. This event is free and open to the public, though seating is limited.

Firestone was forced to Auschwitz concentration camp when she was just 16 years old. Before her family's capture in 1941, she was living in Hungary where she lived a comfortable life.

Through her speeches, Firestone paints a picture for the audience of the struggles that Jewish people faced while in Auschwitz.

She recalls how her family was given 24 hours to pack one bag of belongings that they never received after arrival. Children and the elderly were sent straight to the gas chambers upon arrival at Auschwitz.

The Nazi guards stripped female prisoners of their clothes, shaved their heads, and administered yellow paint from the front of their hair-lining up, across their heads, and down their backs. This was a way to create mass confusion, as the women became unrecognizable.

Throughout her time at Auschwitz, Firestone and her sister were able to remain close to each other -- until her sister suddenly disappeared.

Firestone was released from Auschwitz at the age of 20.

Years later, while working on a film about Holocaust survivors with Hollywood director, screenwriter, and producer Steven Spielberg, she learned her sister had been tortured in one of the Nazi medical-experiment hospitals by the infamous Josef Mengele, and then gassed to death.

Firestone's experience at Auschwitz displays the true horror of Nazi torture that was experienced by both Jewish men and women. Through her deep personal stories, audience members will be able to gain a broad understanding of how race, class and gender work together to form social mechanisms that are the building blocks of oppression.

For more information on the UNI lecture, contact the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education at 319-273-3870, chge@uni.edu or www.uni.edu/chge.

For more information on the Mount Mercy Holocaust Speaker Series, contact Assistant Professor of History Allison McNeese at amcneese@mtmercy.edu.

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