Speaker Esther Bauer returns to UNH

By Tom Spencer
On April 4, 2014

After a strong reception last year at the University of New Hampshire, Holocaust survivor Esther Bauer will return to the Memorial Union Building. Bauer's next visit will be on Wednesday, April 9 at 7 p.m. in the Granite State Room, a necessary shift in venue after Bauer packed the Strafford Room last spring with 280 people. An additional 200 students listened to audio from the event in Union Court.

 "We tried our best to accommodate people by patching audio into the food court," David Zamansky, the assistant director of the Memorial Union Building Program and Leadership, said. "We also promised if we were able we would bring her back in a year." 

This time, the event will also be broadcast live into the Strafford Room. 

"We are definitely prepared this year ... if we get more [students] than can fit in the GSR," Zamansky said. "This is a rare opportunity to see someone who has lived through ... the Holocaust."

Bauer's history will not have changed since last year, but her stories remain as harrowing and relevant as ever. She will recall her trials from three different Nazi concentration camps, including her time in Auschwitz. 

She has memories of various anti-Semitic discrimination that led up to her family's imprisonment, including the destruction of synagogues, the confiscation of homes and property, limits on where Jews could travel and the infamous yellow star on her clothing. 

"I hope UNH students come to this event with an open mind and ready to ask questions," Marisa Abrahams, the president of UNH Hillel, said.

Bauer can also recall the sordid condition of the camps, the constant uncertainty of whether water or poisoned gas would be issued from the showerheads, the mass executions in the middle of the night, and the smell of burning human flesh in Auschwitz. 

 "I hope that this event can help spread awareness on campus," Abrahams said. "There is a very small, active Jewish population, and we are often met with a simple lack of knowledge about the Holocaust. I hope that through Esther we can open up some powerful conversations."

"We have the posters around and there is a Facebook group, and it is on table tents ... but friends telling friends of this amazing and inspiring talk will get people in the seats," Zamansky said. 

For all the horrors she has experienced, Bauer is known for being an optimistic, cheerful and engaging speaker. "Esther is a vibrant and energetic person who has been through horrors that many of our grandparents went through as well," Abrahams said.

"Esther is an amazing person ... I hope we get even more people than last year to see her," Zamansky said.  

UNH Hillel will pick up Bauer from her hotel room and take her to dinner. It will be a unique opportunity to ask questions in a more intimate setting, according to Abrahams

"I hope that students understand why it is so important to the Jewish community that we continue to hear these stories and remember what happened," Abrahams said. "When Jews learn about the events of the holocaust we always end with saying, 'Never again.'"

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