"Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life" Inaguration Held at SHC

Fri, 06/20/2014 - 2:15pm
image upload by lreese

More than 200 people attended the opening reception for “Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life” at Spring Hill College on Tuesday evening, June 17.

Introductory remarks were made by Rev. Gregory F. Lucey, President of Spring Hill College, Hon. Sandy Stimpson, Mayor of Mobile, Ala., Denis Barbet, Consul General of France to the U.S. Southeast, Donald K. Berry, Director of the Gulf Coast Center For Holocaust and Human Rights Education, Irving Silver, Spring Hill College trustee, and Jacques Fredj, Executive Director of Memorial de la Shoah.

The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Michael Marrus, Professor Emeritus of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto.  

“Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life” is on exhibit through Aug. 10, 2014 in the Barter Room of the Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library.

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.

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.

Exhibit hours are 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.

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.

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