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Thursday, March 4,2010

Holocaust Awareness Week marks 26th year

By Jefferson Dodge

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Another film that will be shown during Holocaust Awareness Week, Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg, will be followed by remarks from George Kondor, a Holocaust survivor whose family was saved by the Swedish humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg.

Kondor told Boulder Weekly that his father worked for Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Jews in Budapest, Hungary, by issuing Swedish protective passports that identified them as Swedish subjects and saved them from deportation.

Kondor shares a story about the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross military surrounding a “ghetto” of about 60,000 people in Budapest, threatening to burn it down. Wallenberg, who enjoyed political power because he was a wealthy diplomat, called the Arrow Cross commander in chief “and said he would be the first to be hanged after the war,” Kondor says. “He guaranteed it.”

As a result, he recalls, the Arrow Cross backed down.

When he was a young boy, Kondor and his sister were sent to different nunneries for protection, and one day his mother got the feeling that his sister was in danger, so she picked her up from the nunnery. “That evening, it got a direct hit, and everybody died,” Kondor says.

Kondor’s father was shot and killed by Soviet soldiers after he tried to protect a woman they were trying to rape. Kondor was 11.

As for Wallenberg, his fate was disputed for many years. He was arrested by the Soviets in Budapest in 1945 after they took control from the Germans, and the Soviets claimed that he died of a heart attack in 1947, at the young age of 35.

But Kondor believes he lived longer in captivity, in part because of a story he heard from a Hungarian who came to Canada. (Kondor lives in Toronto.) The Hungarian claimed to have worked on a train in Budapest where he overheard Soviet officers speaking about Wallenberg and a secret agreement between the Soviet Union and Germany to take over Poland and split it up between the two countries, Kondor says. When Wallenberg was arrested, Kondor was told, he threatened to unveil to the world that the Soviets had massacred thousands of Polish prisoners of war in the Katyn Forest in Russia. As a result, he says, Wallenberg was taken directly to Moscow and locked away.

Kondor calls the film and his talk that will follow “a story of a great man who sacrificed himself for others and became the second honorary citizen of the United States, after Winston Churchill.”

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Holocaust Awareness Week, which is hosted at CU by the Jewish organization Hillel, features other events throughout the week in UMC 235. Kathy Kondor, George Kondor’s daughter and co-coordinator of the event series (along with Melissa Weintraub), outlined a few of the other highlights of the week.

For instance, Holocaust scholar Bryan Rigg will be speak at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9. Rigg, author of Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military, has written about Jews who fought alongside the Nazis in hopes of saving their families, according to Kathy Kondor.

Kondor says another highlight will be Zachary Kutner, who survived the concentration camp at Auschwitz, and his wife, who was imprisoned in Shanghai. They will speak at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10.

And Holocaust survivor Doris Small of Broomfield will speak at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 10. Small’s husband, Martin, who died in 2008, was known for expressing his experiences as a Holocaust survivor through poetry and art.

The theme of this year’s Holocaust Awareness Week is heroes and rescuers, Kondor says.

The title is a quote taken from the Torah:

“To save one life is to save the world.”

The Events:

Monday, March 8
11 a.m. Sid Shafner Concentration camp liberator University Memorial Center, Room 235

1 p.m. Walter Plywaski Holocaust Survivor UMC 235

2:30 p.m. Robby Adler Peckerar CU Professor UMC 235

7 p.m. Berel Lang Professor of philosophy and Holocaust studies UMC 235

Tuesday, March 9 11 a.m. Maria Krenz Holocaust Survivor UMC 235

1 p.m. Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg

A Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from Hungary UMC 235

3 p.m. George Kondor Holocaust Survivor saved by Raoul Wallenberg UMC 235

7 p.m. Bryan Mark Riggs Author of Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers, the story of Jews who fought with the Nazis UMC 235

Wednesday, March 10 11 a.m. Doris Small Holocaust Survivor UMC 235

1 p.m. Mr. and Mrs. Zachary Kutner Holocaust Survivor UMC 235

2:30 p.m. Stephen Feinberg Director of International Holocaust Education at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. UMC 235

7 p.m. Movie: Blessed is the Match Followed by Q&A and talk by director Roberta Grossman UMC 235

Thursday, March 11

11 a.m. Ella Mandel Holocaust Survivor from Auschwitz UMC 235

1 p.m. Eric Cahn Holocaust Survivor UMC 235

2 p.m. Closing Ceremonies UMC Atrium

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