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Uncommon Responses to the Holocaust

Left to right: Aurimas Svedas, Eliyana Adler, Rachel Feldhay Brenner, Teri Dobbs, Jennifer Tishler.

PtJA team member, Teri Dobbs, organized a panel of scholars to discuss “Uncommon Responses to the Holocaust” at the recent Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies Conference held November 9 – 12, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois.

Presenting papers were Professor Rachel Feldhay Brenner, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Professor Aurimas Svedas, Vilnius University, Lithuania; and Dobbs. Dr. Jennifer Tishler, Associate Director of the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia (CREECA), University of Wisconsin-Madison, served as moderator and Professor Eliyana Adler, Pennsylvania State University, served as the panel’s discussant. The following provides a brief description of the panel’s approach:

The Holocaust is often perceived in terms of total extermination of Jews and the predominantly indifferent witnessing bystanders. Particular and often unusual responses of resistance complicate the accepted generalizations. Teryl Dobbs’s paper analyses the case of a young girl, a piano prodigy and composer, Josima Feldschuh, who wrote music and performed in the Warsaw Ghetto but died while in hiding on the Aryan side of Warsaw. Rachel Brenner discusses the case of Zofia Kossak, a rabid antisemite, who not only addressed Poles in an underground leaflet urging a compassionate attitude toward the Jewish victims, but who also established a Council for Aid to Jews. Aurimas Svedas presents the case of Kovno survivor and one of Lithuania’s leaders for intercultural tolerance, Irena Veisaite, who helped to initiate dialogue between Lithuanians and Jews, which were divided in two different ‘memory societies’ after the collapse of Soviet Union. (ASEEES program, 2017)

Dobbs’s paper, “Josima Feldschuh: The Music Behind the Ghetto Walls,” is one of a series of papers that is a direct result of Dobbs’s work with Performing the Jewish Archives and the first to set forth preliminary findings from her investigations of Feldschuh’s compositions and their PtJA performances as socio-cultural musical texts.

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