Press Release

14 March 2013

Contact:  Deborah Petersen-Perlman,  218-726-7528;


“Recognizing an Unsung Hero”

There are many kinds of courage.  Europe during World War II proved to be a testing ground for a wide range of brave acts by many who would not have characterized themselves as particularly valorous.  This year’s Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration honors the work of a relatively unknown American journalist.  Varian Fry was a well-educated antifascist who arrived in Marseille in the autumn of 1940, determined to be of assistance to Europe’s intellectual elite.  His efforts resulted in the rescue of well over 1000 artists, writers and philosophers, including Marc Chagall and Hannah Arendt.

Award-winning journalist and recognized author, Sheila Isenberg, is this year’s featured speaker for UMD’s annual  Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration.  Isenberg will present “Mission Impossible:  Varian Fry in Marseille” on Monday, April 15 at 4:30 p.m. in Montague 70 at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch named Isenberg’s book,  A Hero of Our Own:  The Story of Varian Fry, one of the best books of 2001.   Isenberg’s 2011 book, Muriel’s War, also deals with a Holocaust-era story .  Both books will be available for purchase at Isenberg’s presentation.

Additionally, the Royal D. Alworth, Jr. Institute for International Studies will co-sponsor a brown bag presentation on “Nazi Concentration Camps: Sadism and Strategies for Cultural Annihilation,” Thursday, April 18 at noon in the UMD Library Rotunda.  Over this past winter break, Dr. Deborah Petersen-Perlman, Associate Professor in the UMD Communication Department, and Dr. Cindy Christian, Director of the Alworth Institute, traveled to Nazi concentration camps in Europe.

The Jewish ghetto in the city of Terezin, in the Czech Republic, was used by the Nazis as propaganda to convince the world that Hitler had established a city for the Jews to protect them from the war.  The best known and most notorious of the death camps was Auschwitz, in Poland. At least  960,000 Jews as well as other prisoners were killed at this notorious labor and death camp.  In Germany, Ravensbruck served as the major camp for women.  This was a personal trip for both Petersen-Perlman and Christian, and they will share their reactions and reflections, as well as provide information about the camps.

The events of the Baeumler Kaplan Holocaust Commemoration are, as always, free and open to the public.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.


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