Gerta Freeman

Gerta was born on October 8th, 1915 in Vienna and later moved to Prague where she would meet her future husband, Albert.  In 1937-38, discrimination against the Jews grew worse and Gerta immigrated to the United States with Albert’s sister as her sponsor.  Making her home in Washington D.C., she worked for the Herald Tribune, a job that would prove fortunate – a secretary at the newspaper became a sponsor for her mother’s immigration to the US.  Eventually, Gerta’s brother, Fred, along with Fred’s girlfriend and her own brother were able to come to the United States.

 

 “Anti-Semitism”

By Gerta Freeman

Austria is the pace of my birth
To me, the most beautiful place on earth
The snow covered alps, the Danube, the lakes
The Vienna pastries and chocolate cakes.
Something is very wrong there and you will find
It's the Austrians hateful and narrow mind.

 

That's all I will try to express in poetic shape. It's absolutely impossible to describe to you the terrible conditions in that country, long before they decided to do away with Jews and other second rate citizens by sending them into gas chambers to a horrible death.

We encountered their hatred from early on in life. To be a good successful student was difficult with anti-Semitic teachers. They simply would not pass us to next grade unless we were very well prepared with our studies.

When I had decided to become a language teacher and had passed my examination with excellent results, it was absolutely impossible to obtain employment in any of our middle schools. To earn a living I had to give private lessons and wore out my shoes getting from one student to the next. Many adults wanted to learn English in preparation of their emigration to either England or America. The desire was inevitable after Adolf Hitler had overrun our borders. He and his henchmen Goebbels and Goehring proclaimed daily that the Jews were the source of all evil. They had all the money in the world etc. They were a wonderful scapegoat and had to be eliminated once and for all.

We were forced to wear yellow armbands at all times to be recognized immediately; we were not permitted to sit on a park bench. Luckily, the only direct attack on me did not hurt me physically. A man sitting next to me in a bus turned to me and said in a loud voice, "I will not sit next to a Jewish sow." That was shortly before I left Austria for good. Not to mention that I had to go to the Gestapo office and ask for an exit permit. They gave me one under the condition never to come back. I gladly signed this piece of paper. As a good bye present they took my passport and added the name "Sarah" for my name so that the foreign country would be aware of my faith.

Arriving in Washington D.C. in 1938 we tried to find an apartment and were told that they do not rent to Jews.

We came a long way to find similar conditions here.



Be aware of my faith.

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Yousef Bashir

Manhattan College , 4513 Manhattan College Pkwy , Bronx, NY 10471

Yousef Bashir is a Palestinian-American from the Gaza Strip, the son of Khalil Bashir, a highly respected educator. Still suffering the effects of a near catastrophic injury at the hands of an anonymous IDF soldier, Yousef made his way to the United States where he earned a BA in International Affairs from Northeastern University and an MA in Co-existence and Conflict from Brandeis University. Now living in Washington DC, Bashir has worked on Capitol Hill, and served as a member of the Palestinian Diplomatic Delegation to the United States. Yousef is an accomplished author, a vigorous advocate of Israeli-Palestinian peace, and much sought-after public speaker.

Oct22

Film Screening of “Who Will Write Our History” in conversation with Stephenie Young

Manhattan College

Stephenie Young is  a professor in the English Department and  research associate for the SSU Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Salem State  University in Massachusetts. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the State University of New York, Binghamton and her B.A. in Art History from California State University, Long Beach. She has published widely in both national and international journals. Her forthcoming book, The Forensics of Memorialization, is  about the "forensic imagination," and how  traumatic material culture normally considered scientific evidence is used instead to create visual narratives that shape memory politics in post-conflict former Yugoslavia. With Paul Lowe (University of the Arts, London), she co-organizes the annual conference, Why Remember? Memory and Forgetting in Times of War and Its Aftermath, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. With Dr. Liliana Gomez-Popescu she co-leads the Network for Aesthetic Ecologies comprised of architects, artists, curators and theorists based in Zurich and Lebanon. She has received numerous fellowships and grants to conduct her research on comparative genocide and aesthetics. In fall 2019 she was in Warsaw, Poland as a Senior Research Fellow at the Jewish Historical Institute to conduct research about the Ringelblum archive as part of a larger study about contemporary border politics, evidence and memory.

Nov10

Peter Hayes: “November 1938 as Turning Point”?

Manhattan College, TBD , 4513 Manhattan College Pkwy , Bronx, NY 10471

Please join us on November 12th, time TBD with Peter Hayes for our annual Kristallnacht Lecture and Frederick Schweitzer lecture. Peter Hayes is a professor of History and German at Northwestern University. He specializes in the histories of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust and, in particular, in the conduct of the nation’s largest corporations during the Third Reich.

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