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MLK Day

January 19, 2004

First, the library is open today. I know it’s Martin Luther King Day, but it’s one of those holidays on which the library now stays open.

The others are President’s Day, Columbus Day, and Veteran’s Day. We don’t lack a spirit of remembrance, but these are gray days in practice. Many people in our community don’t get them as holidays, and those that do are just as happy to have the library open.

Second, there is still an air of remembrance in the library this week, and it does have to do with human rights. We had the chance to borrow something users call the “holocaust trunk,” a collection of materials assembled for schools by the Holocaust Awareness Institute at the University of Denver.

High school history teacher Ed Lambert borrowed the materials for his classroom and offered them to the library for the last week.

We don’t have enough time to permit check-outs, but the materials, which include some video, will be available in the library community room (when it’s not in use) for perusal this week.
The library will show two of the shorter films on Wednesday and Thursday evening.

Here are examples of what’s included in the trunk:

The “Historical atlas of the Holocaust” from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has over 230 maps covering the period from the early 1930s to 1950.
“The hidden children” tells the stories of thirteen of the thousands of children who were sent away from their families into hiding.
A long pamphlet called “Resistance during the Holocaust” summarizes resistance in the Ghettos, Nazi camps, and Europe, as well as resistance within Nazi Germany by various groups such as the Jehovah Witnesses.
One textbook is called “No way out: letters and lessons of the Holocaust,” and it includes selections from hundreds of letters to and from the Deutsch family from 1938 to 1947, many dealing with the attempts to emigrate.
There are a few collections of supplementary materials intended for classroom use. You might take a look at a folder called “Japanese-American internment,” which discusses that often forgotten part of World War II in America, and which involved Colorado.
“The trimphant spirit” is a collection of portraits and brief stories of survivors, and it was selected among the best books for young adults in 1997.
There are a few dozen titles in all including the books, pamphlets, and video material.

The library will screen two of the shorter films at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the library community room. (They will be “screened” using a projector, so it will be comfortable viewing, even if the subject will be powerfully uncomfortable at times.)

Wednesday, we’ll show a 30-minute film called “Heil Hitler: confessions of a Hitler youth.” It is based on the book by Alfons Heck, who joined the Hitler Youth at age ten. The Anti-Defamation League called it “a cautionary tale that needs to be seen and discussed by young people everyhwere.”
Thursday, we’ll show a 40-minute film called “One survivor remembers,” which won a 1995 Academy Award for best documentary short film. Gerda Weissman Klein’s tale of survival is documented through interviews, photographs, and film footage.
I tested the projector with this one. It had been left un-rewound in the middle of the tape just before an American jeep drives up to the camp for the first time. Within seconds, I was captivated. Within minutes, I had tears in my eyes.
We’ll have tissues handy.

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