Monday, December 20, 2010

The Breman: Defiance and Remembrance

Against All Odds exhibit
Against All Odds exhibit
Recently, I returned to The Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum to continue the exploration I started earlier this month.

I wanted to see the "Against All Odds" exhibit and I also recently learned of a speaker program focusing on writing one’s autobiography, so I wanted to hear that as well.

The afternoon was spent learning of the courage of three brothers who saved more than a thousand lives during the Holocaust and being inspired to (possibly) one day tell my own story.

Against All Odds

Shirt made for and worn by Tuvia
Shirt made for and
worn by Tuvia
The current special exhibit at the Breman, Against All Odds, tells the true story of three brothers (Tuvia, Asael, and Zus Bielski) who defied the Nazis' murderous plot to annihilate all Jews in Europe.

The exhibit includes graphic panels with photographs and the telling of the Bielski's story; video testimonies of survivors; and personal artifacts from the Bielski resistance group.

Their defiance and resistance movement, from a forest in Belarus that became their home for the duration of the War, resulted in the saving of 1,200 Jews—the largest armed rescue of Jews by Jews during the entire Holocaust.

Tuvia became the Commander of the Bielski group and often spoke publicly, once quoted after saving more than 100 people from a ghetto scheduled to be liquidated as having said:
"Comrades, this is the most beautiful day of my life because I lived to see such a big group come out of the ghetto…I don't promise you anything, we may be killed while we try to live. But we will do all we can to save more lives."
The originating exhibit, "Courage & Compassion: The Legacy of the Bielski Brothers," was presented by the Florida Holocaust Museum to coincide with the opening of the film "Defiance" in 2008, also about the heroism of the Bielski brothers.

Ghetto, rescue tunnel marked in red
Ghetto (rescue tunnel marked in red)
When I visited The Breman a couple of weeks ago, Judy, the Membership Director, told me about the current exhibits, both permanent and temporary. That day I wanted to visit the Holocaust exhibit, but recalled Judy telling me about the Bielski brothers and the movie Defiance.

I decided then to make certain to see Defiance (available on NetFlix on their watch instantly feature) before returning to view that exhibit. Having seen the film really brought to life the exhibit…the faces of the brothers were different from those in the film, but everything I read and saw in the exhibit about what they did I could now easily play in my mind.­

"Defiance" Movie Trailer

The exhibit is there for only a couple more weeks; it concludes on Monday, January 3, 2011.

Pictures of Resistance

The Against All Odds exhibit is two parts. The second part is the photography of Faye Shulman, a member of the Russian partisan group, and the only known Jewish photographer to chronicle Jewish resistance fighters during the Holocaust.

"Pictures of Resistance: The Wartime Photographs of Faye Shulman" features dozens of large format photographs and includes the camera that Shulman used to document the lives of resistance fighters who also lived in the forest during the War.

Upcoming Exhibits

Against All Odds exhibit
Against All Odds exhibit
ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950
January 23 – April 24, 2011

During the Depression and World War II, our superheroes—now cultural icons—provided the message of goodness, hope, and strength. This exhibit showcases mid-Century comic books, mostly created by Jewish authors, and their continued effect in today's culture.

Torn from Home
September 17, 2011 – January 5, 2012

This exhibit will explore the lives of more than 30 million refugees, 10 million of which are children, who have been displaced by war.

In addition to its many programs and a monthly survivor lecture, Bearing Witness, the Museum has two permanent exhibits:
The Autobiography Imperative

In addition to the Bearing Witness program, The Breman offers other programs, classes, and events to its members and the general public. I attended the "The Autobiography Imperative: How to Do It and Why You Must!" author lecture.

My copy of The Complete Autobiography Workbook
My copy of "The Complete
Autobiography Workbook"
Elizabeth Huntoon Coursen presented her book, "The Complete Autobiography Workbook," through an inspirational speech about creating the book, stories of her family, and recollections of her research…all created vivid imagery in my mind.

Liz owns First Person Publications, a company that specializes in helping writers become published authors and then marketing their literary works.

At the end of the book presentation, Liz conducted a (free) raffle and the prize was an enlarged, mounted vintage Atlanta postcard. Liz also owns American Postcard Art

After the lecture, I told Liz about the only item I have that belonged to my paternal grandmother, Mary, who passed away on her 70th birthday in 1979.

It's a postcard of her, dressed to the nines, playing the slot machines at Lady Luck Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, which opened the year before I was born. From what I recall being told, she loved Las Vegas and traveled there many times…obviously enough times that the Lady Luck made a postcard of here to sell in their gift shop.

The Return

Will I return (again) to The Breman? Indeed, I will. The upcoming programs are enticing and I want to hear some of the survivor lecture series. While I can never imagine what it was like to live during World War II and the Holocaust, I can listen to the stories and use them to help me live a life of acceptance, tolerance and to celebrate diversity.

Touring The Breman

Date toured: Sunday, December 19, 2010
Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.; Closed on Saturdays and most Jewish and Federal holidays.
Location: 1440 Spring Street (at 18th Street) (directions and map)

Cost: Adults $12, Seniors $8, Students $6, Children (3-6) $4, Children (under 3) free
Parking: Free onsite parking

Typewriter used in the Belarussian forest
Typewriter used in the
Belarussian forest

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