In commemoration of Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass), which for many marks the beginning of the Holocaust in 1938, the Jewish History Museum will host an opening reception of an exhibit entitled “Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life” on Sunday, Nov. 9 from 3 to 5 p.m., at 564 S. Stone Ave.
The exhibit, which was created by the Mémorial de la Shoah in Paris, will run in Tucson until Feb. 1, 2015.
This traveling exhibition is based on a journal started by 21-year-old Hélène Berr, a young Jewish French woman who was studying English literature in the early 1940s at Sorbonne University. Her writing follows life in Paris under the German occupation, as Berr oscillates between hope and despair, until her arrest and deportation to Auschwitz in 1944.
With photographs, archives, films and interactive animations, the exhibition depicts the daily lives of French Jews, whose futures were cut short by brutal acts of violence.
“Writing the entire reality and the tragic things we live, given all their bare seriousness and without deforming them with words, that is a very difficult task which requires a constant effort,” Berr wrote in her journal.
For 60 years, the manuscript of her diary existed only as a painful family heritage. In 2002, Mariette Job, Berr’s niece, decided to entrust the manuscript to the Mémorial de la Shoah. It was published in 2008.
“The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and the Jewish History Museum are thrilled to host this exhibition in our community,” says Bryan Davis, director of the JFSA Jewish Community Relations Council and the Holocaust Education and Commemoration Project.
Later in the week, “No Way Out,” a multimedia play about one family’s attempt to flee Nazi Germany — told through the actual letters they wrote to each other — will be staged on Thursday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at the Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave. Audience discussion will follow. The performance is also sponsored by the Federation.
Written and directed by local playwright Susan Prinz Shear, “No Way Out” has been presented at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and across the country.
“‘A Stolen Life’ and ‘No Way Out’ are testimonial projects related in that both of these deeply familial and personal stories were brought to the world’s attention by the nieces of two victims of Nazism,” says Davis,“both of whom wanted to rescue their loved ones from the anonymity of those massacred by genocidal movements.”
As for Berr, says Davis, “you may not know her name now but you’ll never forget her after viewing this exhibit.”
Tickets for “No Way Out” are $15; to purchase, contact Jane Scott at 577-9393 or [email protected].
For more information about the “Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life” exhibit, or to RSVP for the Nov. 9 reception, contact Bryan Davis at 577-9393 or [email protected], or the Jewish History Museum at 670-9073.