Teachers Study Holocaust for Students' Benefit
HOUSTON, TX (July 2, 2009) – Texan and Croatian educators will come together this July to attend an intensive four-day training institute giving them skills to teach their students about lesser-known aspects and issues surrounding the Holocaust.

The teachers will attend the seventh annual Max M. Kaplan Summer Institute for Educators held at Holocaust Museum Houston July 7-10. This year, the series of seminars and lectures will explore lesser-studied topics of this grim period in world history. Speakers will discuss the Romani nation, atrocities of medical experimentation, the role of partisans, rescuers and the conditions for art and culture under Nazi Germany’s rule.

“The institute broadens the experience of teachers,” said Mary Lee Webeck, the Museum’s director of education. “These educators already have a rich background, so each summer we extend the context of how they can present the Holocaust. They are provided more entry points to thoughtfully and analytically engage students in the subject.”

An application process selected participants for the program, with preference shown to teachers with previous Holocaust education and those who have participated in the Museum’s educational programming.

“The recent shooting at the national museum is an unfortunate reminder of how hatred and intolerance have an impact on society today,” she said. “The challenge of Holocaust Museum Houston’s mission to teach the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy is of great importance today, and I think teachers are realizing they can help prevent future prejudice by acting today.”

Dr. Ian Hancock, professor and director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at The University of Texas at Austin, will introduce educators to the plight of the Romani people and the 1.5 million Roma murdered during the Holocaust. Hancock will also discuss conditions for the Romani today.

The teachers also will hear from local author and former Nuremberg Trials courtroom reporter Vivien Spitz, who will give second-hand testimonial to the atrocities committed by Nazi physicians on concentration camp patients.

Dr. Pascale Bos, associate professor of German and Dutch studies at The University of Texas at Austin will investigate gender issues during the Holocaust, and use French author Charlotte Delbo’s writings about her time in captivity in Auschwitz. Dr. Helga Kessler Aurisch, associate curator of European art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), will introduce “The Rape of Europa,” a film about the Nazi looting of fine art during the war.

Hitler’s covetous love for fine, classical art did not apply to modern art. His suppression of “degenerate” art will be the topic of author and curator of Redbud Gallery Gus Kopriva’s lecture. Anne Wilkes Tucker, the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography at MFAH, will discuss the links between photography and genocide.

The final day will feature Mitch Braff, executive coordinator of the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, using the film “Defiance” to teach about partisan activity during the Holocaust. Dr. Mark Wygoda, editor of “In the Shadow of the Swastika,” written by his father, Hermann Wygoda, will illuminate what it was like to be a partisan smuggler during the Nazi occupation of Italy.

Participants from Houston in this year’s institute include: Michelle Arroyo-Peterson of Cypress Ridge High School; Ashley Howard of Cy-Ridge High School; Jared Hansen, Matt McDougall, Sylvia Sierra, Laura Tully and Wendy Warren of Hastings High School; Jessica Danziger of Houston; Stephanie Cox of Johnston Middle School; Kate McEntire of River Oaks Baptist School; Rebecca Johnson of the Awty International School; and Hada Flores of YES Prep East End.

Other Texas teachers attending are: Daniel Pabon of Katy; Talya Johnson of Hightower High School, Missouri City; Victoria Ellis, Susan Locklear and Stacey White of Pasadena Memorial, Pasadena; Michael Segrist of Sam Rayburn High School, Pasadena; Jessica Wright of Rockport Fulton High School, Rockport; and Shawna Zak of Lamar Consolidated High School, Rosenberg.

In addition to the 22 Texan teachers, two teachers hail from Croatia: Tvrtko Božiæ of Malinska and Milivoj Dretar of Ludbreg.

This educator training program has been supported by grants from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and is generously underwritten by the Max M. Kaplan Teacher Education Fund, the Chevra Kadisha Holocaust Studies Scholarship Fund and The M.B. and Edna Zale Foundation, with special thanks to Continental Airlines, the official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.

For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.
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