Spring Hill College to host “Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life” exhibition March 28 – Aug. 10, 2014

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 2:15pm
Hélène Berr

MOBILE, Ala. – Spring Hill College will host the “Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life” exhibit March 28 through Aug. 10, 2014, in the Barter Room of the Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library.

“Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life” will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2 to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

This traveling exhibition is based on the Journal written by Hélène Berr, a young Jewish French woman, whose promising future was brutally cut short by Vichy Government’s laws and the extermination plan imagined by the Nazis. Studying English literature at Sorbonne University, Berr was 21 years old when she began writing her Journal. We follow her steps through Paris under the German Occupation, perceiving the daily experience of the unbearable, oscillating between hope and despair, until her arrest and deportation to Auschwitz in 1944.

While revealing a true premonition of the inescapable, this subtle testimony is exceptionally poetic and carries a universal dimension that regards and questions every human being with sincerity. The exhibition, however, goes beyond the framework of Berr’s Journal and personality, as it broadens the context of the Occupation and addresses largely the persecution of the Jews in France. With the support of photographs, archives, films, and interactive animations, this exhibition shows how the daily lives of Jews had been impacted by these terrible acts of violence.

“Writing the entire reality and the tragic things we live, given all their bare seriousness and without deforming them with words, that is a very difficult task which requires a constant effort,” Hélène Berr wrote in her Journal.

For 60 years, the manuscript of Hélène Berr’s diary did not exist except as a painful family heritage. One day in 2002, Mariette Job, Hélène’s niece, decided to entrust the manuscript with the Mémorial de la Shoah. Published by Tallandier in January of 2008, the diary met an immense success from the very beginning of its publication. Through this exhibition, the Mémorial de la Shoah offers the public the oppportunity to discover several family documents archived at the museum’s documentation center, other archives that broaden the historical context, as well as reproductions of the original manuscript.

“We are thrilled to be hosting such a significant Jewish history exhibit in the Burke Memorial Library that reflects global humanity issues important to all,” said Gentry Holbert, Director of Library and Information Resource Services at Spring Hill College. “This exhibit feeds into our Jesuit mission of maintaining an informed dialogue with the world’s cultures and religion while providing our students and community with active learning and involvement activities concerning social justice and the dignity of all human lives.”

This exhibition, curated by Karen Taieb and Sophie Nagiscarde, was designed, created, and circulated by Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris, France), and made possible through the generous support of SNCF.

Contact the Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library at (251) 380-3870 for holiday closures and special hours. Visit library.shc.edu to make reservations for docent-led tours.

Driving Directions

Take I-65 to Exit 4 (Dauphin Street) and turn west (right). Spring Hill College is less than one mile on the right. Follow the golf course road and take a right at the stop sign. Follow the signs to the Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library. The exhibit is on the second floor of the library.

About Mémorial de la Shoah:

More than 65 years after the discovery of the death camps, knowledge about the Holocaust helps to fight against all forms of racism and intolerance. As the largest information center in Europe on the subject, the Mémorial de la Shoah offers guided tours, public programs, permanent and special exhibitions, and many other activities for a better understanding of the history of the genocide of the Jews during World War II, through both individual and collective destinies. The Mémorial’s Wall of Names is engraved with the 76,000 names of the Jewish men, women and children deported from France between 1942 and 1944, while the Wall of the Righteous – a glimmer of hope in the dark history of the Holocaust – pays tribute to the men and women who risked their lives in France to rescue persecuted Jews. The Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation – through its exceptional collection of several million of archives, including photographs, books, original records, posters, and private correspondences made accessible to everyone – testifies to the life of the Jews in France and Europe under the Occupation. For more information, visit www.memorialdelashoah.org