International Holocaust Remembrance Day — This past Friday (January 27) marked the observance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and this event sparked me to reflect on my family’s connections to the Holocaust. Everyone on my father’s side of the family came from the Jewish community in Warsaw, Poland. A small group of them immigrated to New York City in the early years of the 20th century. My great-grandparents were among those who fled the oppressive conditions in what was known as the Warsaw Ghetto, and they eventually became American citizens. Many of their relatives, however, remained in Warsaw.
When I was a college student, my grandfather shared with me the story of what happened to his relatives who stayed in Warsaw. He had just watched the famous mini-series Roots, and he thought that I should know something about my roots. According to my grandfather, his relatives who remained in Warsaw were swept up in the tumultuous series of events known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. This celebrated act of Jewish resistance started on April 19, 1943, when the Jewish residents of the Warsaw Ghetto refused to surrender to the Nazi forces who had come to the Ghetto to round up everyone and deport them to concentration camps. Chaos ensued, and nearly every one from the Warsaw Ghetto was killed, including my relatives. However, they died resisting Fascism, and my grandfather always took pride in that fact. I do, too.
I think that it is important not only to remember the Holocaust, but also to become better informed about this nightmarish chapter in our history. For those who want to know more about the history of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, I recommend two books as good starting points. Dan Kuzman’s The Bravest Battle: The Twenty-eight Days of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is an excellent historical account of the events related to the uprising. Leon Uris’s Mila 18 is a moving novel about the uprising and the story of the Jewish resistance fighters. As both of these books make clear, it takes a great deal of courage to resist tyrants and bigots. In remembering the Holocaust, we should also remember and honor those brave people who stood with the resistance.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of our department. Here is the latest news:
Katie Hogan‘s essay, “The Academic Slow Lane,” appears in the newly published collection, Staging Women’s Lives in Academia: Gendered Life Stages in Language and Literature Workplaces, edited by Michelle Masse and Nan Bauer-Maglin (SUNY Press, 2017).
Liz Miller is first author of a co-authored article titled “Exploring Language Teacher Identity Work as Ethical Self-Formation” that has just been published in the Modern Language Journal.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines— Here is information about an upcoming event.
February 3 — The 17th Annual English Graduate Student Association Conference will take place on February 3, 2017, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm in the Cone Center Lucas Room.
Quirky Quiz Question — Like many Polish Jews who immigrated to America during the turn of the last century, my father’s grandparents settled in New York City. However, before they established homes in New York City, they first passed through a famous immigration processing center located on an island. What is the name of this island?
Last week’s answer: See below.
In addition to writing The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers wrote three other novels. Can you complete the titles of her three other novels listed below?