Mr. Matthew Parkes, from North Andover, Massachusetts, is a senior majoring in Political Science and Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Matt serves on the executive board for the Keene State College Men’s Rugby Club. He is also the current president of Zeta Chi Rho, the alpha chapter of the Honor Society for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and is active with the Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Club.
Dr. Eric Reeves
Dr. Eric Reeves is a professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Over the past fourteen years, Dr. Reeves has established himself as a leading voice of conscience and advocacy and awareness in the study of Sudan, Africa’s largest country. His research has covered all regions of Sudan, Sudanese political history and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sudan and Darfur. His recent publication is an extensive account of the Sudan’s history over the past five years. Compromising With Evil: An Archival History of Greater Sudan, 2007-2012 is available as an ebook and can be downloaded at no cost from
Danielle Flaherty from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is a Holocaust and Genocide Studies major and current executive board member of the Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Club. She is also an honorary member of Zeta Chi Rho, the alpha chapter of the Holocaust and genocide Studies Honor Society. Danielle is an active Eco-Representative on campus and has incorporated her environmental work with her HGS major by looking at the ways Americans use and dispose of technology and the impact it has on the social, environmental and economic fabric of places like the Sudan.
Fred Schwartz is president and founder of the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation. Mr. Schwartz founded the Auschwitz Jewish Center in 1995 after realizing the need for a Jewish cultural and education center near Auschwitz. Mr. Schwartz has been recognized and honored for his dedication in matters relating to the prevention of genocide. In 2004, Mr. Schwartz was chosen as an official U.S. delegate for the Stockholm Forum on the Prevention of Genocide. That same year he was awarded the Medal “for the Promotion of Tolerance” by the Polish Ecumenical Tolerance Foundation in Poland. In 2005, he founded the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation at Auschwitz which builds a worldwide network of leaders with the professional tools and the personal commitment to prevent genocide.
Stephan Lewy was born in Berlin, Germany to a Jewish father and Protestant mother. After his mother’s death when he was six, he spent time in several orphanages. On November 9, 1938, Stephan, along with 100 other Jewish youths was forced into a synagogue while the doors were locked and the gas line cut. He and the others escaped when one of the older boys smashed a stained glass window. In 1939, Stephan was sent to an orphanage in France, just outside Paris. He arrived in the US at the age of 17 under the status of “enemy alien”. Despite this, he registered for the draft at age 18 and was called to serve at Camp Ritchie, Maryla nd to be trained as an interpreter. As part of General Patton’s Army with the 6th Armored Division, he took part in the Battle of the Bulge and was among the first American soldiers to liberate Buchenwald. Mr. Lewy has traveled across New Hampshire to tell his story to over 2,500 school-aged children. It is this work that has lead to an honorary degree from Daniel Webster College and a play about his life.
Gretchen Steidle Wallace
Gretchen Steidle Wallace is the founder and President of Global Grassroots, an international non-profit which supports conscious social change driven by and for vulnerable women in post-conflict countries, including Darfur refugees and Rwandan genocide survivors. Gretchen produced the Emmy-nominated documentary film about the Darfur genocide, The Devil Came on Horseback, and co-authored a memoir of the same title. She holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and a BA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Gretchen is also an integrative breathwork practitioner, an alternative healing modality she uses to help survivors of war, disaster and sexual violence heal from post-traumatic stress. In 2007, Gretchen was honored by World Business Magazine and Shell as one of the top International 35 Women Under 35.
Marjorie Margolis is a high school English teacher from southwestern New Hampshire where she teaches a Holocaust Studies elective. Three years into teaching this course, she learned that she had a relative living in Vilnius who had survived the Holocaust by escaping the Vilna Ghetto and fighting with the Soviet partisans. That relative is Rachel Margolis, cofounder of the Vilna Gaon Jewish Museum and researcher responsible for the publication of Kazimierz Sakowicz’ eye-witness account of the mass executions Jews at Ponary, entitled _Ponary Diary 1941-1943: A Bystander’s Account of Mass Murder_ (Yale University Press, 2004).
In 2006 Marjorie spent a week with Rachel in Vilnius and returned to the US with the project of translating and publishing Rachel’s most recent memoir here. The book had already been published in German, Polish, and Russian; it was now time to bring the story to English readers. Not only does it convey a story of the Jews who fought back, it is the story of life in Jewish Vilna before the war, a world in which this very courageous woman grew up to thrive in the bleakest of circumstances. Rachel’s description of life in the Vilna Ghetto, the organization of the resistance movement, the escape into the forests, and her experience fighting alongside Soviet partisans is revealed through a lens unique to such stories, for Rachel was a woman who insisted on taking full agency for her life.
With the advice and encouragement of Hank, Tom and Paul of the Cohen Center, and a brilliant introduction by the eminent historian, Antony Polonsky, this memoir is now ready for publication in the United States. Unfortunately, it is this book which has stirred the most recent controversy in Vilnius concerning Lithuania’s Holocaust past. A year and a half after its publication in Lithuania , an editorial appeared in the mainstream Lithuanian press, demanding that Holocaust survivor, Fania Brantsovsky, who fought with the Soviet partisans must be questioned about war crimes based on “evidence” found in the memoir of Rachel Margolis. Unwilling to be used as a witness against her friend, Rachel refuses to return to Lithuania in the summer even though it means no longer working at her beloved museum. So now Marjorie Margolis has become Rachel’s advocate on the geo-political stage. A year ago, the Cohen Center hosted an event to honor Rachel for her heroic efforts both during the Holocaust and now.
The publication of Rachel Margolis’ memoir, _A Partisan from Vilna_, will be available in May 2010.
Read more about Rachel Margolis.
Michelle Sigiel is a senior at Keene State College who plans to graduate in May 2010 with three separate degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Bachelor of Arts in History with a specialization in Europe, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Michelle hopes to continue her studies in Holocaust Studies with a focus on the Polish-Jewish relations during and in the wake of the Holocaust.
During her time at Keene State, Michelle has been actively engaged in making a difference. She has held the position of President, Vice President and Treasurer of Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honors Society, is a founding member and President of Zeta Chi Roe, the Honors Society in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and is the President of the Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Club. It has been in this role that she brought several genocide survivors to campus, including the recent visit by Armenian film maker, Apo Torosyan.
Michelle has been the recipient of a Dean’s Scholarship, the F. Burton Nelson Award for Excellence in Holocaust Studies and has presented at the Academic Excellence Conference for the last three years.