Feb 23, 2020 UACCM, UCA to host
Holocaust survivor Nat Shaffir will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the UACCM Fine Arts Auditorium and at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 4, at Morrilton High School’s Devil Dog Arena. The daytime program on March 4 will be tailored for school students in the surrounding area. Both events are free and open to the public.
Shaffir was born Dec. 26, 1936, in Romania to a family that owned a large dairy farm. The farm prospered until November 1942 when a Romanian fascist group, the Iron Guard, visited the family. An accompanying priest identified the family as Jews. The Iron Guard confiscated the farm, and forced Nat’s family to pack their belongings and leave. Nat’s father was sent to a forced labor camp, while Nat’s grandfather and 10 aunts and uncles were transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald concentration camps. After Nat’s father was liberated, he took his wife and children to Israel where Nat lived until 1961. He has lived in the United States for almost 60 years and now serves as a volunteer with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
“One of the most powerful ways people understand history is to engage with someone who witnessed it,” saidDiane Saltzman, the Museum’s director of constituency engagement. “Holocaust survivors who volunteer at the Museum and speak to various communities nationwide provide that unique connection. They bring an incomprehensible past alive and add a powerful dimension to an encounter with Holocaust history.”
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany estimates the number of living Holocaust survivors worldwide has fallen to 400,000, around 100,000 of whom live in the United States. Many are in their 80s and 90s.
Nearly 80 Holocaust survivors serve as volunteersat the Museum, sharing their personal histories, engaging with visitors, acting as tour guides, translating historic materials and more. Their presence is an invaluable asset, and their contributions are vital to the Museum’s mission.
“As we move further away from the Holocaust, the importance of this presentation program ever increases,” Saltzman said. “The personal link forged at this event ensures that the experience of these survivors has a lasting impact.”
For the past 11 years, UACCM has partnered with the national museum to bring a survivor volunteer to the community, and each speaker has provided a unique and memorable experience of suffering, loss and survival. As each year passes, the opportunity to hear these moving, first-hand accounts from survivors becomes a more rare and treasured honor.
The program is being funded in part by a Giving Tree Grant from the Conway County Community Foundation.
The University of Central Arkansas will host “An Evening with Holocaust Survivor Nat Shaffir” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, in the McCastlain Hall Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public. Sponsors of the presentation include the UCA departments of English, History, Liberal Arts and Philosophy and Religion, as well as the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton and the University of Arkansas at Rich Mountain.
Schools that would like to make arrangements to bring student groups to the event at Devil Dog Arena should contact UACCM director of marketing and public relations Mary Clark at 501.977.2011 or [email protected].