Cultural Center to Host Holocaust Exhibitions for Schools

Posted: September 09, 2002
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History (WVDCH) will join the Federated Jewish Charities of Charleston (FJCC) and Kanawha County Schools (KCS) to sponsor the national traveling exhibition "Schindler" as the centerpiece of "Holocaust Remembered: Witness and Legacy," a month-long series of free displays and programs Sept. 9-Oct. 6 at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex, Charleston.  

The 600-square-foot exhibition, on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, tells the story of Oskar Schindler, who has come to personify those who risked their lives to rescue Jews and others from the Nazis during the Holocaust. An unlikely hero, Schindler joined the Nazi party in 1939. He amassed a fortune through rigged army contracts and exploitation of cheap labor and lived in high style. Nonetheless, he was moved by the cruelties he witnessed and devised a plan to protect his Jewish workers. Through negotiations and bribes that depleted his war profits, Schindler was able to transfer more than 1,000 Jewish workers from a Nazi labor camp, ensuring their humane treatment and ultimately saving their lives. He was the subject of the 1993 Academy Award-winning film "Schindler's List."  

Other exhibits planned as part of the series include "'How could it happen?': Through the Eyes of a West Virginian," a display of photographs by U.S. Army investigator James H. Hall. A native of Roane County who now lives in Mink Shoals, Hall was one of the first Americans to see and photograph concentration camps and Holocaust survivors. His photos, taken in May 1945, document the atrocities of the Dachau concentration camp and the resulting war crimes tribunal.  

A third exhibit will feature artwork and poetry created by local students and teachers after they studied the Holocaust. The exhibit, "Reflections: Interpretations of the Holocaust," is part of the Jewish Labor Committee/FJCC Fellowship Program, which is sponsored in conjunction with KCS and the West Virginia Department of Education.  

Finally, as part of an interactive exhibition, "Poland 1942/Germany 1942," visitors will have the opportunity to trace the steps of both those condemned to concentration camps and those who grew up indoctrinated by the hatred of the Nazi government. The exhibit is designed to help people consider the types of choices people had to make during World War II, and to compare and contrast those decisions with the types of choices people have to make today.  

From Sept. 16-27, students in fourth-12th grades will travel to the Cultural Center to see the exhibitions. Reservations are required. Call (304) 558-0162. A packet containing pre-visit classroom activities will be sent to teachers when reservations are made.  

In addition to the programs and exhibits at the Cultural Center, there are a number of related events scheduled throughout the Charleston area, including a talk, "Consequences of War," by war crimes investigator Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at First Presbyterian Church; free showings of the Academy Award-winning film "Schindler's List" Sept. 20-26 at the Park Place Stadium Cinemas; a firsthand account of Holocaust experiences by Charleston resident Kaethe Wells at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, at Baptist Temple; a concert by members of the American Trio of New York at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29, at Temple Israel; and an interfaith service at B'nai Jacob Synagogue on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 10:30 a.m.  

Because of the nature of the subject matter, these exhibitions and programs are not intended for young or immature audiences.  

For more information about the events and exhibits at the Cultural Center or to request a complete schedule of community programs associated with the "Holocaust Remembered" project, call (304) 558-0162 or visit the Division's website at http://www.wvculture.org.  

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