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Lecture Helps Mark Holocaust Resource Center's 20th Anniversary

Holocaust scholar Geoffrey Megargee, Ph.D., was at Albright College to lecture on "The Universe of Nazi Camps and Ghettos," the subject of his groundbreaking research.


 

Sept. 12, 2013

Reading, Pa.  – When Holocaust scholar Geoffrey Megargee, Ph.D., first set out to catalog the Nazi camp and ghetto system, he expected to compile a list of 5,000 to 7,000 sites. But the more he researched, the higher the number climbed.

Thirteen years on and the list has topped 42,000 ghettos, concentration and labor camps, killing centers, prisoner of war camps, brothels and detention centers, stretching from France to Poland, Norway to North Africa. Some sites imprisoned as few as 20 people and functioned for a month; other places persecuted hundreds of thousands of victims and operated for years.

But perhaps more shocking is that Megargee’s list is not yet complete.

“You couldn’t turn a corner in Germany without encountering someone being held against their will. For Germans who said they knew nothing about the camp system, it could not be true,” said Megargee during a lecture Monday at Albright College, held in conjunction with the 20th anniversary commemoration of the College’s Holocaust Library & Resource Center (HRC).

Although the event was a celebration of the center’s successes, Megargee’s talk provided a sobering reminder of why the HRC was established in the first place and why it’s necessary to continue the mission of raising awareness about the Holocaust and working to prevent future genocides.

“The center is an invaluable resource for scholars and survivors alike and for the community,” Albright President Lex O. McMillan III, Ph.D., told the more than 250 people who packed the Wachovia Theatre for the event. Among the attendees were students, College faculty and staff, HRC supporters, community members and representatives of the Jewish Federation of Reading, which established the HRC and partners with Albright in its operation.

State Sen. Judy Schwank was also on hand to deliver a Pennsylvania Senate proclamation honoring the milestone. And following the lecture, McMillan and Federation President Tammy Mitgang toasted the center’s work over the last two decades.

Housed in the Gingrich Library, the HRC includes more than 2,300 books, 300 videos, CDs, and DVDs, wartime artifacts, pictures and recorded testimonies. The center sponsors workshops, seminars and lectures, provides educators with resources to teach the Holocaust and other modern genocides, and coordinates survivor visits to schools.

Megargee is a senior applied research scholar at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. His research on the Nazi camps and ghettos is being compiled into a 7-volume collection, Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945. The first two volumes have already been published.

Following the lecture, attendee Ryan Woodward of Wilmington, Del., lauded Albright for bringing Megargee to campus. “It is important students get to see scholars of this caliber,” he said.

Woodward said he wasn’t that surprised to learn the Nazi camp and ghetto system was so extensive, but added, “It’s not any less shocking. It would be bad enough if it was 100 or 10 or the five most people can name.”

Megargee’s lecture was made possible through the Campus Outreach Lecture Program of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, supported by the generosity of the Jerome A. Yavitz Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Arlyn S. and Stephen H. Cypen.

The Freedman Gallery at Albright also remained open late on Monday so lecture attendees could view the exhibit Illuminations: The Art of Samuel Bak, featuring 20 original works by artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak. The exhibit, also held in conjunction with the HRC’s anniversary, will be on display through Sept. 29, 2013.

 

Founded in 1856, Albright College is a nationally ranked, private college with a rigorous liberal arts curriculum with an interdisciplinary focus. The College’s hallmarks are connecting fields of learning, collaborative teaching and learning, and a flexible curriculum that allows students to create an individualized education. Albright enrolls about 1,700 undergraduates in traditional programs, another 800 adult students in accelerated degree programs, and 100 students in the master’s program in education. Albright College is located in Reading, Pennsylvania.

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