Sorry for the delay in posting this update as I was having Outlook problems and did not get any emails for two days. Problem fixed and now onto the updates…..
First from me- our film students were still dealing with no batteries=no filming for the weekend. But a gentleman named Ilias Tomazos who is the Director of PAIDEIA Study Abroad Programs in Greece and also a UHart alumni has gone to Athens and gotten batteries for our cameras! Thank you Ilias!!!
Dr. Freund’s Update:
This is an update from Rhodes. With temperature and heat indices around 100 degrees this is a contrast with our fine Lithuanian summer weather.
Our group has been a part of Lithuanian history and Greek history in the space of one week. It also is cutting edge research into the teaching the Holocaust in the field. We are here with Lena Stein a photographer who has done multiple exhibits with us in the past. We are hoping to arrange a photo exhibit for the follow up to our work featuring her work.
Commemorating is a form of creating contemporary events to experience and remember the past. They usually involve the local community that may have no idea about the history of a location from 75 years ago. This is leading up to a major conference that features among other papers our geoscience projects in Rhodes on the two major destroyed medieval synagogues and what our geoscience non-invasive studies here reveal.
So last night-Sunday July 20- in a local open air theater the Rhodes municipality showed for the packed Rhodes crowd-“Woman in Gold”the 2015 Hollywood film about art stolen by the Nazis in Vienna and the question of restitution of the art to the original families over 60 years after the Holocaust that went to the US Supreme Court.
The Woman in Gold as a Metaphor fir the Post Holocaust World
Sixty years after fleeing Vienna, Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), an elderly Jewish woman, attempts to reclaim family possessions such as the famous portrait of Maria’s beloved Aunt Adele: Gustave Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” With the help of young lawyer Randy Schoeberg -yes, the grandson of the famed composer Arnold Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), Maria embarks upon a lengthy legal battle to recover this painting and several others, but it will not be easy, for Austria considers them national treasures. It is a mystery wrapped in a Holocaust dilemma that many European countries face about restitution. The message was very relevant in Greece and Rhodes where over 90% of the Rhodes Jews were killed in the Holocaust and restitution claims still remain an issue.
The two ceremonies we have been a part of had similar design -a ritual lighting of six candles for the six million Jews, musical accompaniment intoning of Jewish prayers and speeches by local dignitaries and survivors.
A memorial stone figured in both ceremonies but the one here in Rhodes sits in the commercial center of tourism in the old Jewish Quarter while the Lithuanian stone in Kaunas sits at the edge of a destroyed Ghetto.
We experienced two of the most distinctive European expressions of the what is done to commemorate and remember the Holocaust and to educate the local population to the ongoing issues and needs to remember the past so we do not repeat it in the future.
July 14 Kaunas, Lithuania
Filming the event at the site of the mass burial of Fort 9 in Kaunas on July 14
The students gathering at the site of the liquidation of the Jewish Ghetto in Kaunas on
July 21 Rhodes, Greece
The students sitting in the Kahal Shalom Synagogue (site of our multi year study) for the remembrance of the round up of the Jews of Rhodes
The musical program and candle lighting
Standing before the stone at the center of the Juderia-Jewish Quarter.
Much of this might seem difficult but we went and explored the Grandmaster Palace yesterday! A World Heritage site with the architect of Rhodes’ Old Town restorations! Very inspiring.
Tonight we are going to a Leonard Cohen concert at the medieval Knights Templar Castle of Rhodes! Fun and inspiring! Tomorrow taking the ferry to the island of Kos. Stay tuned!
Dr. Richard A. Freund
Today, our group went to the Grandmaster’s Palace early in the morning. It was a huge castle and is currently a museum. We met with George and Katerina, an archaeologist and architect couple, who told us about the history of the palace and it’s importance to the island. Two floors and the courtyard was open with many different statues and artifacts dating back thousands of years.
We then had a long break from about noon until 9pm. Some went to lunch together, to the beach, walking around the city, or the hotel pool.
At 9, the group walked down the street to an open air theater for a showing of the movie, “Woman in Gold”, which told the true story of an Austrian-Jewish woman named Maria. She came from a wealthy family, but all of their belongings were stolen by Nazis during WWII. The movie follows her journey with a young family friend and lawyer, Randy, as they try to reclaim a painting of her late aunt from an Austrian art gallery. This was a very powerful movie, because it not only represented how difficult it was for people who were Jewish to leave their home during Nazi rule, but the lasting effects it has over 50 years later.
Everything is going great. The island is beautiful and very nice weather. Dr. Fruend invited me a private lunch on a boat restaurant. It was great and we were with the holocaust survivors of Rhodes. I sat at his table and personally talked to him. It was really great.
Photos from Becca: