News & Events

UMPI hosts film series on the Holocaust

The University of Maine at Presque Isle will host a film series titled Remember the Past to Build the Future on Wednesdays between April 17 and May 1, featuring three films connected to the Holocaust during and after World War II. The series kicked off with a showing of Karski & the Lords of Humanity on April 17, and continues with Bogdan’s Journey on April 24, and Blinky & Me on May 1; films begin at 5 p.m. in the Campus Center Multi-Purpose Room. All are invited to attend these free events.

Dr. Tomasz Herzog, UMPI Professor of Social Foundations of Education and Social Studies Education, put together the film series after connecting with Slawomir Grunberg, an Emmy Award-winning, New York City-based Jewish Polish film director. Grunberg directed and produced Karski & the Lords of Humanity and founded LOGTV, LTD, a nonprofit that researches, distributes, and produces educational documentary films and educational programming with a special emphasis on themes connected to Jewish life, history, and identity, as well as the history of World War II and the Holocaust. Through LOGTV’s connections with the Polish Film Institute, the three film screenings are able to take place in Presque Isle.

“This series is an effort to share information about this part of world history,” Herzog explained. “There are many studies that show a growing lack of knowledge about the Holocaust both in America and across the world, especially among young people. In the U.S., two-thirds of millennials do not know what Auschwitz was, half cannot name one concentration camp, about 40 percent believe that fewer than 2 million Jews were murdered, and 20 percent are not sure if they have ever heard of the Holocaust.”

Herzog said the series came together because of his long-time interest in and contributions to the field of Holocaust Education, in the U.S., Poland, and Israel.

“Grunberg, whose documentaries have received many awards and have been shown around the world, invited me to screen the movies at no cost at our University,” Herzog said. “It’s our belief that the movies will help the viewers learn from the past in order to prevent it from happening again. It’s very symbolic that the last of the movies will be screened on our campus on May 1st, one day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, known in Hebrew as Yom Hashoah, which marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.”

Karski & the Lords of Humanity, a partially animated film, tells the story of a member of the Polish underground who acted as a courier during World War II. Part of his mission was to inform the Allied powers of Nazi crimes against the Jews of Europe in an effort to prevent the Holocaust. Jan Karski infiltrated the Warsaw Ghetto and a Nazi transit camp and carried his dreadful eyewitness report of the atrocities to Britain and the United States, hoping that it would shake the conscience of the powerful leaders, or—as he would later call them—the Lords of Humanity.

Bogdan’s Journey, directed by Michael Jaskulski and Lawrence Loewinger, follows the story of a man who aims to raise awareness about antisemitism and violence against Jews in Poland that occurred after the Holocaust and to facilitate reconciliation between Polish Jews and non-Jewish Poles. This film shows the power of one courageous person pursuing the belief that through dialogue, people can grapple with truths of the past and communicate to create a better future.

Blinky & Me, directed by Tomasz Magierski, is the untold story of Australian animator, Yoram Gross. It comes to life in this film that follows the artist and his family through his childhood in Nazi occupied Poland, in Israel, where he began creating animated art films, all the way to Australia, where he found his fortune and happiness through children animated features and the popular film series Blinky Bill, for which he received the highest honor in Australia. Yoram Gross continued to create with youthful enthusiasm until his death in 2015 at the age of 88. The film is told with the participation of his teenage grandchildren.

For more information about this film series, contact Herzog at 207-768-9429 or email tomasz.herzog@maine.edu.