Over 1,000 letters between parents and children separated
during World War II
WORCESTER, MA – Clark University announced that the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies is curating a unique online Holocaust exhibit and teaching materials based on over 1,000 letters written between parents and their children who were separated during the Holocaust.
In the late 1930s, as antisemitism grew, many Jewish parents sent their children to other European countries to enhance their safety. When the war began and civilian mail between Axis and Allied countries ceased, one Swiss woman became the conduit for parents and children to transmit letters to each other. Elisabeth Luz received the letters, copied them, kept the originals and sent the copies on to the recipients, outmaneuvering the censors.
Copies of these letters are held at the Strassler Center at Clark University, which is in the process of scanning, sorting, transcribing and translating them. For the first time, the letters will be available for research and education on a website the Center is creating. The website will present the letters in a searchable format. In addition, letters by and about children in their adolescent and teenage years will be paired with curriculum for middle and high school students respectively. Students will read and learn from the letters of children who were their age-peers during the war.
“These letters open a window on conversations between Jewish parents and their children during the Nazi years. They provide vivid insights into the crises these families faced, and thus offer important historical materials for students today. These personal letters are a compelling way to teach aspects of the Holocaust because they relate how families dealt with the problems and pain they endured,” said Debórah Dwork,Rose Professor of Holocaust History and founding director of the Strassler Center. Dwork is writing a book about the letters as well.
Sarah Cushman, head of educational programming at the Strassler Center, will offer teachers early access to these letters during the Summer Holocaust Institute, to be held at the Center from July 25-29. Registration information also can be found at the Center’s website: http://www2.clarku.edu/departments/holocaust/.
The Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University is the first and only institute of its kind. Since it was established in 1998, it has gained international standing as the sole program to train students for Ph.D. degrees in Holocaust History and Genocide Studies.
Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge Convention. Change Our World. www.clarku.edu