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My Town: Free event to honor 70th year of liberation from concentration camp | Arts & Culture

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My Town: Free event to honor 70th year of liberation from concentration camp
My Town: Free event to honor 70th year of liberation from concentration camp


The World War II atrocities of the Nazi regime are still fresh in the mind of local Veteran James Zuidema. He and other members of the Muskegon community are urging all people to come together in a stand against anti-Semitism by remembering and honoring the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auchwitz-Birkenau.


The “Holocaust, Liberation, and Local Impact” event will take place on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, from
6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Muskegon Community College Stevenson Center for Higher Education
in room 1200.
The event is free and will feature an evening of discussion with three generations of Muskegon residents who witnessed the results of the Holocaust, lived with its legacy, and teach the next generation about it.


Local World War II Veteran James Zuidema will share his eyewitness account of the liberation of the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp.  Like so many young Americans of that era, Zuidema went from high school graduation to basic training in less than a week. He served in the U.S. Army’s 65th division, which put him on the path to be an eyewitness to the liberation of the Ohrdruf Concentration Camp.


Retired MLive/Muskegon Chronicle Reporter and Columnist Susan Harrison Wolffis represents a “second generation” of people whose lives were impacted by the mid-20th century Holocaust and events of liberation in Europe through the experience of her parents. Harrison Wolffis has interviewed numerous individuals from the WWII era and has also written about her Father’s experience at the concentration camp at Buchenwald.


Fruitport High School Teacher Sarah Woycehoski serves on the Board of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and teaches students about the Holocaust and Genocide. She represents the “third generation” and will talk about how students react to these lessons, why it is important, and what challenges and unanswered questions are involved in these studies.


January 27 is known as International Remembrance Day because it marks the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp that operated from 1940-1945. Approximately six million Jews and five million non-Jewish victims were killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators during the Genocide. Other local events occur in Muskegon each Spring around the “National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust” on May 8. According to US Census data, there are approximately 6.5 million Jewish Americans, the largest Jewish community outside of Israel.   


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