Honoring the lives of victims is never easy.
On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Keene State College students, faculty and community members honored those who lost their lives in the Holocaust by coming together for a ceremony on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Centennial Hall.
Affiliate Faculty Member of Holocaust and Genocide Studies Emily Robins Sharpe was asked to speak at the event sponsored by The Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
She said she is specifically interested in literature written by those of marginalized groups and that she bases her teaching off of those topics.
This past summer, Sharpe attended an institute on Holocaust and Jewish Civilization put on by the Holocaust Educational Foundation.
Sharpe said this opportunity allowed her to expand her work on Jewish literature and think about Holocaust literature and history.
The speech incorporated references to various pieces of Jewish and Holocaust related literature and film.
Sharpe said that if we have an ethical obligation to remember and honor the victims of the Holocaust, then we must acknowledge the fragility of civilization.
She said we must recognize the warnings, anti-Semitism, scapegoating and intolerance that were a part of not only Nazi culture, but American culture before the Holocaust.
“We can try to reconstruct what existed before the Holocaust, but we can never know what was lost,” Sharpe said.
She continued, “What brilliant teachers, lawyers, writers, actors, directors, musicians, economists, politicians, biologists, linguists, physicists, cobblers, chefs, farmers and sociologists might have gone on to do. We can never know what European culture could have been like. These communities, these countries and our world are poorer for it. So how do we remember?”
Sharpe said in her speech that we must be willing to see the light in our own darknesses and contradictions.
We must remember what has been lost and use it to respond to the discrimination and intolerance that continues to plague us. Sharpe ended her speech with a question for the audience “Where are we falling short and what can we do better?”
KSC sophomore and English and American studies major Sydney Hammond took an Archiving War course with Sharpe last semester.
“There were a lot of things I was so interested in when taking her class. She’s so passionate about it that it really makes you interested.” Hammond said, “Remembrance is important, all different kinds of remembrance. Making sure that we’re doing our best to not only honor memories, but also continue to talk about it.”
KSC sophomore and political science major Eva Medvidofsky also attended the ceremony and said it was incredible.
She is currently in Sharpe’s Literature of the Holocaust course and said she believes Sharpe brings a lot of insight to the topic.
“I think that in remembering the Holocaust, it helps to make sure something like that doesn’t happen again,” Medvidofsky said.
Jessica Ricard can be contacted at email@example.com