October 26, 2011

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University's annual observance of Kristallnacht will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building at Bucknell.

Ann Weiss, founder and executive director of Eyes from the Ashes Educational Foundation, will give the presentation, "The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau."

The event, which is free and open to the public, will include a film and discussion of the photographs as well as Weiss' ongoing research. Weiss will sign copies of her book after the talk. Copies are available at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in advance and at the book signing.

Photo archive
During a tour of Auschwitz in October 1986, Weiss discovered a locked archive of more than 2,000 personal photos confiscated from Jews deported in 1943.

Those photos, compiled in a book of the same name, become the inspiration for "The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes of Auschwitz-Birkenau," a film which premiered in Jerusalem in 1989. The photos are featured in a traveling exhibition as well as The Last Album website.

Weiss has shared these photos and narratives about their owners, nationally and internationally, in venues including theatres, museums, universities, community centers and schools. She has traveled the globe researching the stories behind the photos, a journey that is marking its 25th anniversary this year. She has made numerous trips to Poland to secure permission and to copy the photos, and then internationally, trying to reunite photos with remaining family members.

Of the photos she says, "These images were the very ones Hitler never wanted you to see. These photos and their stories are emblematic of how these people wanted to remember their lives. The Nazis wanted their victims to be dehumanized — dead and dehumanized. They took away their names, replacing them with numbers. They destroyed their personal photos so that we could not see their faces. Not only did the Nazis destroy their lives, but they even tried to destroy the memory of their lives. With these photos, they can be remembered as people, not bodies, and in this sense, they live."

The daughter of two Holocaust survivors from Poland, Weiss has worked as a researcher, writer, documentary filmmaker, librarian and educator. She is an interviewer and analyst for the Transcending Trauma Survival Project at the University of Pennsylvania, and served on the Second Generation Advisory Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., since its inception.

She has written, researched, produced and directed documentaries on the Holocaust, has done educational consulting for UNESCO in the Middle East, and has taught seminars to Israeli and Palestinian educators on Teaching Tolerance in the Classroom. She is involved in Holocaust research and continued interviews.

'Night of Broken Glass'
Kristallnacht marks the beginning of the Holocaust in Germany when organized gangs of Nazi youth roamed through Jewish neighborhoods on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938, breaking windows of Jewish businesses and homes, burning synagogues and looting.

"As time moves us further away from World War II and the Holocaust, it becomes that much more important to bring speakers to campus to help us to never forget that horrific time, for not only the Jewish people, but for the world," said Rabbi Serena Fujita, Jewish chaplain at Bucknell.

Contact: Division of Communications



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