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Holocaust Posters

Here is one of the Holocaust Remembrance Day posters.



1) Previous discussions here and here.

2) Seems clear that these images and information came from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Posters featured (among others) Dora Rivkina, Max Rosenblat and Thomas Elek. See also this pdf.

3) Were all those remembered Jewish? Yes (I think). Why can’t I find anyone from the WCJA to answer some questions on the details? Help us out, readers!

4) Were all those pictured killed because they were Jewish? No.

In 1940, after the Germans occupied France, Thomas’s mother enlisted in a women’s resistance group. Following her example, Thomas joined a progressive students’ organization in 1941 and later, with his brother, Bela, joined the armed resistance group, Franc-Tireurs et Partisans. Thomas participated in sabotage actions against the Germans. His group launched numerous grenade attacks, and set fire to a German library on the Left Bank. On July 28, 1943, his unit blew up a convoy of German officers and soldiers, killing 600.

Arrested on November 21, 1943, Thomas was tortured and condemned to death. On February 21, 1944, at the age of 20, he was executed by a Nazi firing squad.

Thomas Elek, resistance fighter, would have been tortured and shot regardless of his religion. Now, I don’t think that the WCJA was trying to make any sort of subtle point here. I suspect they just skimmed through the on-line information and picked some pictures/stories. But the identities of the victims, the stories behind their deaths, and the reasons for their selection by WCJA are an important point in the conversation. Recall Jonaya Kemper:

I found the HRD posters just as offensive. Saying they were not religious posters is bull. Saying that you were trying to call attention to all the atrocity in the world is backpeddling at best. There were no African children or Bosnian children on those posters. Only Jewish children. Not even the children of gypsies or any of the mixed race children that were experimented on and sterilized. Not a single one. There was a Star of David on the poster, and the way a small child died horribly. I take offense at ANYONE posting the methods of cruelty measured on any child, on my door.

It would be good to have more dialog about these posters. The Mary Jane Hitler controversy has eclipsed a useful conversation about how we should mark Yom Hashoah and how we might encourage others to do the same.

5) Does Thomas Elek belong on a Yom Hashoah poster? Probably not. Although usage varies, the Holocaust “is the term generally used to describe the killing of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, as part of a program of deliberate extermination planned and executed by the National Socialist regime in Germany led by Adolf Hitler.” So, Jewish US soldiers who died during World War II are not remembered on this day because their deaths were not part of the Holocaust per se. We honor them on Memorial Day. Similarly, Thomas Elek was treated no differently (?) than non-Jewish French resistance fighters who were caught by the Gestapo.

6) I realize that this is arcane commentary, at best, but uncomfortable learning demands close attention to the details of the symbols that we choose and their effects on fellow Ephs.

UPDATE: Post title changed by request.

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#1 Comment By frank uible On May 3, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

I don’t need more details. The uninvited placing of HRD posters on doors was a little rude (the placing). The uninvited placing of Hitler posters on doors was a little rude (the placing) and also extremely obnoxious (the posters).

#2 Comment By hwc On May 3, 2007 @ 6:03 pm

I think that the series of Holocaust posters was a moving remembrance. I applaud the Williams students for the work that went into the effort.

#3 Comment By hwc On May 3, 2007 @ 6:20 pm

BTW, could I make a small request to change the name of this thread to “Holocaust Posters”?

One of the (many) things that offended me about Julia’s letter to the editors was the way she dehumanized the Holocaust posters by refering to them as “HRD” posters.

I know that is not DK’s intent, but I’d prefer to see it spelled out so that there is no way to ignore what Ms. Julia was attacking.

#4 Comment By Ronit On May 3, 2007 @ 6:52 pm

I’d agree that HRD is an odd kind of terminology.

I was quite moved when I found one on my door, and appreciated the effort of the students who put them up. I didn’t think they were rude, though I accept that Frank Uible might have felt differently had they been on his door.

#5 Comment By current eph On May 3, 2007 @ 9:01 pm

I couldn’t agree with hwc more.

#6 Comment By Anonymous On May 3, 2007 @ 9:31 pm

Dehumanized posters? Well, it’s not that difficult to remove the humanity from a piece of paper.

Get a grip. Thanks.

#7 Comment By hwc On May 3, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

Thank-you for the change, DKane.

BTW, I would like to thank you for your tireless efforts to pursue this issue and bring it to the fore. Big round of applause from me and, I know from many alums and students who feel that the fundamental issue here (an anti-semitic attack) would not otherwise have been given sufficent notice.

#8 Comment By ephmom On May 3, 2007 @ 10:34 pm

“the fundamental issue here (an anti-semitic attack”

I wonder why the administration shows so little concern.

#9 Comment By frank uible On May 3, 2007 @ 11:20 pm

Because it was a weak kneed attack – merely a mealy-mouthed verbal and graphic insult of limited scope – not a credible threat of anything physical – certainly not the occurrence of injury to persons or damage to property. The Administration is being cautious in order to avoid an escalation. So far it has been correct in its judgment. This incident has produced only a lot of hot air and apparently has good prospects of drifting away without anything of further significance happening.

#10 Comment By ephmom On May 3, 2007 @ 11:40 pm

Except the everlasting links from Google.

#11 Comment By frank uible On May 4, 2007 @ 7:28 am

Anything that results, directly or indirectly, fom googling I regard generally as a part of hot air.

#12 Comment By Anonymous On May 4, 2007 @ 2:31 pm

I wasn’t there, but I think I would view anything that someone posted on the door to my bedroom as a violation of my personal space, regardless of the content. I believe that the college has rules against doing this. It may be that the administration is being relatively quiet because of the conundrum: how do you condemn the posters that you don’t agree with if you allowed a violation of the rules by condoning the posters that you agree with?

That said, I find the Holcaust remembrance posters moving. I think they could have been posted on campus in an effective way without violating the rules. Remember the red balloons?

#13 Comment By ssnightrider1488 On March 26, 2008 @ 7:26 pm

The only thing i can say about this poster is never forget. Never forget what hitler tried to do for us. he loved his beloved german people so much that he devoted his very last breath to it.
Love and Respect

#14 Comment By frank uible On March 26, 2008 @ 11:01 pm

Is there a full moon tonight?