Wed. Jun 29th, 2022

The late Dr. Irene Shur was commemorated for her work on Holocaust and Genocide Studies at West Chester University during a film festival on Friday, Jan. 30.Dr. Saul Friedman was there to speak of Shur and her work. He was a long time friend of Shur’s, both growing up in the same Jewish neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio.

Friedman has dedicated his life to the studies of the Holocaust and its effect on the Jewish community. He believes that “American Jews did not do enough during the Second World War.”

This comment sparked Shur’s interest during a lecture in 1980 at the American Jewish History museum in Washington, D.C. The two did not agree on this comment, but became very good friends.

Shur was a pioneer in the field of Holocaust and Genocide studies in the nation. She began the National Association of Holocaust Educators and organized annual conferences.

She was an “exceptional woman, committed to students, her profession, and peace in the world.” Friedman also admired her for the “extraordinary accomplishments for a program so young.”

She also started the program at West Chester University in 1978 where she was director for 25 years.

Currently there are 21 students in the graduate program at West Chester University. The Holocaust and Genocide Studies department is dedicated to training teachers of the horrors this world has created. It depends heavily on original research and thought.

The festival was attended by many different people. Some were there because of their involvement in the program, while others were there to celebrate a lost friend. Technical difficulties created a change in the agenda causing “There Are No More Wise Men in Chelm” to be replaced by “The Mauthausen Memorial 2000,” a documentary of the Vienna Orchestra playing a memorial concert for the lives lost on the Spanish Stairs near a concentration camp in Mauthausen. The enslaved were forced to carry large stones they had excavated up a long flight of stairs built into the stone facade. Many died of exhaustion, while others were simply thrown over the rocky cliff to their deaths.

All the films shown evoked many emotions. Nicole Perry, a secondary education and history major said it was a “moving experience, I could feel their [survivors’] pain.

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