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Beyond Courage: Day of Remembrance

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Resistance fighters, Jews defy the Holocaust during WWII

During the Holocaust that swept across 11 European countries during World War II, resistance fighters and heroes, along with defiant Jews, saved millions of men, women and children who faced death at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators.

Noted author Doreen Rappaport spent years traveling on her own odyssey to gather information for her latest book, “Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust.” Her book is the focus of this year’s presentation for the Day of Remembrance on May 6 at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa from 7-9 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., but there’s limited seating. 

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Nevada, Reno, has presented a variety of speakers and topics over the years for the event, ranging from individual stories of heroism to the American soldiers who liberated the camps near the end of World War II.

“With the recent tremendous rise not only in antisemitism but in Holocaust denial, it is more important than ever to present the truth about the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators,” said Judith Schumer, co-chair of the Holocaust Day of Remembrance. “Programs such as this one illustrate the dangers of prejudice, discrimination and dehumanization.”

Rappaport’s books combine historical information with a unique storytelling approach that brings her subjects alive, even years after the event has occurred. She has authored 85 books on various topics, but she considers “Beyond Courage” one of her most intense labors of love.

“This book took me six years to write,” she said in an interview with the Nevada News Group. “I traveled to Israel, Germany, France, Poland, England and Greece to research. I worked with historians and specialists in the field and Jewish resistance experts in particular countries I visited.

Rappaport said she wanted to give an overall picture of how the Jewish people coped and defied the Holocaust. Her research was exhaustive, yet it provided an overview of people intent on defying the Nazis and their sympathizers. During her research, Rappaport said she gathered information from an endless number of books, especially from historians, who helped her zero in on different angles to her story.

“This was a very intense project that required wonderful input from a variety of people, including four survivors, including four whom I met and I’ll talk about,” she said.

Rappaport said she also spent many hours perusing thousands of photos from different sources, and she also stayed a week in Israel looking at photos and visited the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. She had one takeaway out of many.

“The common knowledge is Jews were sheep to the slaughter,” Rappaport said about the mass exterminations that killed six million Jews and two million other enemies of the state beginning in 1941 and extending to the end of the war in 1945. “My project was to see the extent of this resistance and how it varied from country to country depending on the situation.”

“OLLI at the University of Nevada, Reno recognizes the significance of the Holocaust Day of Remembrance as a reminder of the atrocities of the past and the importance of fostering awareness, empathy and tolerance in our society today,” said Dolores Ward-Cox, executive director of OLLI.  “By commemorating the Holocaust, OLLI reaffirms its commitment to promoting education, understanding and remembrance of this pivotal moment in history and its profound impact on humanity. Through thoughtful reflection and commemoration, OLLI aims to honor the memory of the victims, and the survivors and their families, while also emphasizing the importance of combating prejudice, discrimination and injustice in all its forms.”

Sponsors of the event are the Nevada Governor’s Advisory Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust, Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, Jewish Nevada and OLLI at the Sanford Center for Aging, part of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine.

For information on registering for the event, go to https://www.unr.edu/nevada-today/news/2024/olli-remembrance-day.

Steve Ranson
Steve Ranson
Steve Ranson is Editor Emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News.

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