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Holocaust Heroes Honored in Exhibit

By Daniel C. Stevenson
Associate News Editor

In observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Hillel sponsored exhibits in Lobby 7 and a memorial service yesterday. Institute Professor Emeritus Victor F. Weisskopf spoke at the service in the MIT Chapel about "The Rescue of the Danish Jews," followed by readings and reflections on acts of heroism during the Holocaust.

"The purpose of both the exhibit and of the memorial service was to teach the community that those were the heroes of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Joshua Plaut, a speaker at the service.

Provost Mark S. Wrighton, who introduced Weisskopf, asked the audience to "reflect on whether you yourself would have the courage to behave in the ways which these leaders did 50 years ago."

"The memorial service in a more solemn atmosphere brought home the facts pertaining to how widespread assistance was granted to the Jews, even though it was only done by a few people," Plaut said.

"I think the service was a good tribute to the memory of the 6 million. I was very pleased with the attendance on the part of the administration, the faculty, and the students," Plaut said.

During the memorial service, members of the MIT community read stories about people who had sheltered and rescued Jews during the Holocaust. After each reading, one of 12 candles was lit. The candles represented the 6 million Jews and 6 million non-Jews who perished in the Holocaust, Milner said.

In his talk, Weisskopf said that the Danish rescue of Jews was a "unique example of collective action."

"Heroism makes mankind worth existing," he added.

Weisskopf also made several references to current global situations in his talk. The type of genocide in the Holocaust is still going on today in the former Yugoslavia, Weisskopf said. The recent election of a fascist party to the Italian leadership also shows that vigilance is still necessary.

Horrors and heroes'

"This year's Holocaust Memorial theme is the righteous of the nations,' " said Joseph M. Milner G, one of the organizers of the event. "Righteous of the nations" refers to those honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Israel for risking their lives to save Jews, Milner said.

The exhibit in Lobby 7, "Horrors and Heroes of the Holocaust" featured the histories of six of the righteous of the nations, including factory owner Oskar Schindler, who saved over 1,100 Jews from death in concentration camps.

"I think the exhibit was well received and really I think taught people things about the rescuers of Jews during the holocaust," Plaut said. "I think the exhibit was viewed by hundreds of people and I think informative literature was handed out to at least 2,000 people."

The exhibit consisted of six panels of text and photographs profiling these people that rescued Jews, according to Julia Khodor '96, an organizer of the exhibit. The exhibit also told "the story of how Jews were treated during the Holocaust," Khodor said.

Throughout the day, Hillel members stood in Lobby 7, taking turns reading lists of names of people who died in the Holocaust, Milner said. Six memorial candles, representing the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, were burned near the exhibit, Milner said.

The exhibit's purpose was to "inform the general population" about the Holocaust, Milner said, citing a recent statistic showing widespread ignorance of the extent of the Holocaust. The exhibit was both a memorial and a warning about where "man's inhumanity to man" can lead, Milner said.

"It was great to see a lot of people stopping by and taking the time to read some of the exhibits," Milner said.