Emma Coffey ~ Staff Writer
On Wednesday, Nov. 13th at 7:00 p.m, Holocaust survivor Halina Yasharoff Peabody, will give a lecture about her experiences. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, Peabody was born December 12, 1932, in Karkow, Poland, to a Jewish family. Her father was a dentist and her mother was a champion swimmer.
Professor Naomi Amos said the purpose of the lecture is, “sharing historical experience is a form of oral history and giving testimony to a time that was horrific and should never happen again.”
According to Amos, she is part of the Holocaust Education Foundation of Central Virginia, and it is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to education K-12 primarily, but teachers and the general public, as well through lectures. Amos said that students should attend this lecture because there is no substitute for a live experience and reading about it is not the same. Amos also said that students can gain a broadening appreciation of these survivors because of what they have gone through. Students can also get the sense of the survivor’s joy of living. Amos said, “In addition, I think it is an opportunity to evaluate, to be aware of what is going on in the U.S., and around the world.”
According to Amos, she has organized, programed, and discriminated information for the Holocaust Education Foundation for the last two or three years. She said that the purpose of the organization is to educate in schools. There are annual writing competitions in schools to write about the Holocaust and there are also art competitions.
Amos said that after the lecture, there will be a time for questions and answers and all are encouraged to ask them. According to her, Halina Yasharoff Peabody will bring a PowerPoint with photos as she shares her story. The day after the lecture, Peabody will also talk at a reception for students at E.C. Glass and Heritage High School. She will also speak on a broadcast at the University of Lynchburg on the same day.
Director of the Westover Honors College, Dr. Edward DeClair, helped with some of the organization details for the lecture, and the Westover Honors College is helping with the funding as well by hosting the lecture and reception dinner. He said it is important to give voice to those who survived the Nazi genocide. Dr. DeClair said, “We can all learn from people who experienced directly this significant historical moment in history; moreover, because of the passage of time there are very few survivors still alive today to give a first-hand account of their experiences.”
According to Dr. DeClair, students should attend this lecture because of the racial and ethnic strife as well as the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States. He said that it is important for the students and the wider community to be mindful of what can be learned from history. Dr. DeClair said, “Also, in this post-Charlottesville era, we in Virginia must remain vigilant about the rise of anti-Semitism and the spread of white nationalism in our own state and community.”
Dr. DeClair also noted that students will gain, “Hopefully empathy and understanding about the fragility of the human experience during a time of great political, economic, and social upheaval. Maybe they will also glean some lessons for the time in which we live.”
According to Dr. DeClair, this event can benefit the campus community by creating a dialogue about these important issues. He is looking forward to, “The opportunity to say thank you to Ms. Peabody for sharing her story with our students and for taking the time to remind us of the impact of man’s inhumanity to man.”
Dr. DeClair said, “It was an opportunity to support my colleague, Naomi Amos, and to create a dialogue on our campus about the worst genocide of World War II.”
For more information about Halina Yasharoff Peabody, visit https://www.ushmm.org/remember/holocaust-survivors/volunteers/halina-litman-yasharoff-peabody or attend the lecture.