Remembering the Holocaust in Buley
Jaylen Carr – Sports Editor
In the lobby of the Buley Library, the Holocaust exhibition featured books, videos, photos, and souvenirs of victims who died and those who sacrificed their lives to save those persecuted.
Since 2017 the Judaic Studies program and the philosophy department have held commemorating the event of Holocaust victims, said David Pettigrew, a philosophy professor, and event organizer, said.
Pettigrew has been involved in every commemorating event since its inception. This year the exhibit will honor two Connecticut residents, Varian Fry, and Hiram Bingham, who helped rescue Jewish refugees who escaped between 1940 and 1941 in Marseille.
“Varian Fry had been selected to go organize the rescue effort,” Pettigrew said. “Hiram Bingham was the Vice Counsel at the consulate in Marseille, and the two of them were working in parallel tracks trying to save people, and they sometimes met.”
Pettigrew said he was recently in a meeting with teachers, and because of the pandemic, they were asked to focus on mathematics and language arts and cut out teaching history.
“We have to be sure to provide commemorative culture activities of remembrance in order to help educate people,” Pettigrew said. “It is important to remember the victims to ensure it never happens again. So, it is seen as education and awareness as genocide prevention or prevention of repetition of the atrocities.”
Corinne Blackmer, the Director of Judaic Studies, said Pettigrew contacted her about helping him fund the event, and she undoubtedly agreed to help.
“It is extremely important that this event happened,” Blackmer said.
The Holocaust was such a horrific occurrence that cannot be ignored, Blackmer said.
“We have to remember it and have to understand it and hopefully avoid repeating it,” Blackmer said. “That is easier said than done because we have seen the rise of fascism and a lot of prejudice in this country.”
Pettigrew said another significant part of the program is that the event organizers will read details of “The Diary of Anne Frank” and a biography of Hermine Gies for this year’s commemorating program.
“Those two are very about text about the Holocaust, obliviously most of us know about the Diary of Anne Frank,” Blackmer said.
Gies, born in Vienna, Austria, helped provide a safe place for Frank and her family during the Holocaust.
Miriam Glenn, a senior citizen student and event organizer, played a pivotal role in making this event possible, Pettigrew said.
“I was always involved in helping the plan the Holocaust remembrance program,” Pettigrew said. “It has just been great to work with Miriam on this project.”
When Pettigrew introduced and taught a new course 10 years ago called Introduction Holocaust and Genocide Studies, he met Glenn.
“The two of us hatch this plot to have an exhibit in the library during the month of April,” Pettigrew said.
When the spring semester started, Glenn started having a discussion with Pettigrew about brainstorming and planning ideas about the event.
“The reason I chose Anne Frank this year is somehow other people are choosing her this year,” Glenn said. “There are plays about her, there are movies about her, and I said, why not?”
When Glenn saw students from other schools visiting, she asked if they knew anything about World War II or the Holocaust, and they were a few hands raised by some of the students.
It is essential to have this event not only to commemorate but to educate, Pettigrew said. Both Glenn and Pettigrew played a considerable role in making this event possible.
“We should all be grateful to Miriam for her dedication to the exhibit and the commemoration,” Pettigrew said.
Glenn, born in Israel, said she is forever grateful for Pettigrew’s effort in helping with planning the event.
“I consider him to be one of the righteous even though he is not honored like this; I’m honoring him like that; otherwise, who is going to do this with me,” Glenn said. “He is all for it and gun hoe for it. He is my righteous gentile.”