Whitman Welcomes Talk from Holocaust Survivor in Remembrance of Yom Hashoah

Clara Bartlett

The evening of Sunday, April 7 to the evening of Monday, April 8 marks Holocaust Remembrance Day. The internationally recognized date comes from the Hebrew calendar and marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, a Jewish resistance that arose within the Warsaw ghetto in German-occupied Poland in 1943. Challenging Nazi Germany’s final effort to transport the remaining ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp, it was the largest single revolt by the Jews during World War II.

On April 8 at 7 p.m. in Maxey auditorium, Whitman welcomes Holocaust survivor Dr. Willem Houwink to speak in reverence of Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom Hashoah.

“Dr. Houwink has a fascinating history. He was heavily involved in espionage for the Dutch government before he was betrayed by a friend, and ultimately spent three years in concentration camps,” the planner of the event, Stuart Coordinator of Religious and Spiritual Life Adam Kirtley, explained. “He is not Jewish, but is able to provide a firsthand account of those horrific experiences.”

Dr. Houwink’s talk, entitled “Life in the German Concentration Camps: A Survivor’s Tale,” is the story of his experiences in the concentration camps as well as his activity in the Dutch underground, fighting the Nazis during German occupation of his native country, Holland.

One of the first to teach the principles of the free market economy in China, Dr. Houwink is now the Honorary Professor of Economics at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

In a video made by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust survivor Estelle Laughlin reminds us: “Memory is what shapes us. Memory is what teaches us. We must understand that’s where our redemption is.”

Sophomore member of Whitman’s Jewish Club Hillel-Shalom Corinne Vandagriff adds, “I think it’s important that we always remember how powerful one person or mindset can be in the fate of a human group. But most importantly I think teaching the Holocaust is important because Jews are, for the most part, thought of as white people who are well off and it’s important to remember that genocide should not be pathologized in an othering and ‘white man’s burden’ type way. It can happen anywhere.”