Yom HaShoah: Holocaust Memorial Programs Open to the Public ASU April 30, May 5

Published Friday, April 29, 2016 at 11:15 am

For this year’s Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), Appalachian State University’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies has worked with partners throughout North Carolina to organize two events. The public is invited.

Second-generation Holocaust survivor Roger Grunwald will perform in a one-person play April 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union to commemorate Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day).

Second-generation Holocaust survivor Roger Grunwald will perform in a one-person play April 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union to commemorate Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day).

A play and educational program on Germans of Jewish ancestry in the Holocaust will be presented April 30at 7:30 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union’s Blue Ridge Ballroom, Room 201 AB.  Admission is free of charge. The 30-minute play is followed by a panel discussion with the artist and two Holocaust historians.

Also, a public reading of the names of European Jews murdered by the Germans during the Holocaust will be held Thursday, May 5, in front of Belk Library and Information Commons, in conjunction with Temple of the High Country and Appalachian’s Hillel chapter. The reading will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., when it concludes with a ceremony. To sign up to be a reader, visit


The Saturday program will evolve around The Mitzvah Project, a one-person play performed by Roger Grunwald, an acclaimed actor and child of survivors who co-wrote the piece with Broadway veteran and director Annie McGreevey. The play tells the tragic story of Christoph Rosenberg, a German half-Jew who became a decorated officer in Hitler’s army. A panel discussion will follow with Grunwald and Professor Thomas Pegelow Kaplan, director of Appalachian’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies, and Professor John Cox of UNC Charlotte.

This program focuses on the struggles of Germans and other Europeans of partial Jewish ancestry whom the Nazi regime persecuted along with Jewish community members across the continent. In the early stages of its assault on German Jewry, the Nazi state deprived Jewish communities of the right to determine what it means to be Jewish and imposed racialized definitions of Jewishness on the Jewish population. Among others, Nazi bureaucrats introduced the “Jewish Mischling” or “half-breed” as a new legal category and created – in Nazi parlance – a “third race” that was comprised of descendants of one or two “full-Jewish” grandparents. The Nazi state defined more than 100,000 women, men and children as Mischlinge. A minority of them joined the Jewish communities; most of them, however, originally belonged to one of the Christian Churches. They had Jewish ancestors and, in many cases, living Jewish relatives, including a Jewish parent. Initially, many male Mischlinge were drafted and fought in Hitler’s military. Some willingly served in the hopes of being able to protect their Jewish mother or father. In the course of the 1930s and early 1940s, almost allMischlinge gradually lost their rights and were subjected to ever-increasing discrimination. Many were deported to work camps and some to death camps like Auschwitz.

Grunwald has been a professional performing artist for almost four decades. In 2013, he was honored with a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) for the development of The Mitzvah Project. He has performed the play to high acclaim in synagogues and on university campuses throughout the United States and will be heading to the U.K. in 2016. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He has appeared in over 70 stage productions in the United States and Europe.

Pegelow Kaplan is Appalachian’s Leon Levine Distinguished Professor and director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies. He has studied modern European history and American Studies in Tübingen, Eugene, Berlin and Chapel Hill. Before coming to Appalachian, he taught Holocaust studies at Grinnell College, Davidson College and De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. His research focuses on histories of violence, language and culture of Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe and the 1960s global youth revolts. His books include “The Language of Nazi Genocide: Linguistic Violence and the Struggle of Germans of Jewish Ancestry” (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

Cox is a historian of genocide and modern world history and directs the Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Studies at UNC Charlotte, where he serves as associate professor. He earned his PhD at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2005. Cox is the author of “Circles of Resistance: Jewish, Leftist, and Youth Dissidence in Nazi Germany” (Peter Lang Publishing, 2009). His second book, “To Kill a People: Genocide in the Twentieth Century,” was published by Oxford University Press in February 2016. Cox has written and lectured extensively on the Holocaust, other genocides and anti-Nazi resistance.

For more information, call 828-262-2311 or email [email protected].

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