Chancellor's Friday Letters

Holocaust remembered

Holocaust remembered

May 6, 2011

Dear Friends,

Obviously it has been a newsworthy week since my last Friday Letter, resulting in a cacophony of discourse, behaviors, memories, reflections and reactions around the globe.

Consider a partial list:

  • The wedding
  • Osama Bin Laden
  • Horrific storms and floods

But today I write about another event, one held on campus this week that was organized by our students.  It didn’t attract the same level of world-wide attention.

And in its own provocative and solemn way, this event provided a lesson for all of us that is both timeless and timely.

The eloquence and impact of the speaker were defined not only by what he said, but by what was not said.

Imagine a boy at age 5, having to have the clairvoyance and courage to stand alone for hours in the severe cold not properly dressed… in order to avoid his capture.

Imagine this same youngster, having to be able to know when to lie that his aunt was his mother…in order to avoid her capture.

And in these and other moments along the way, capture would have meant certain death for all…

The setting?

It was the Holocaust, 1944, and the journey to – and in this case and fortunately from – the Terezin concentration camp, where this boy and his immediate family were ultimately liberated just a few days before they would have been exterminated.  Their fate is in stark contrast to the fact that about 90 percent of the people who walked through the gates of Terezin did not leave alive. Thirty-five thousand of them were children.

The person?

It is Mark Rubin, a distinguished member of our community, who spoke to a full lecture hall of engrossed and grateful people – students, faculty, staff and community – of his experiences.

It is only the second time, in all these years, that he has spoken publically about what he and his family experienced.

Mark’s experience was memorialized in Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Project in the 1990s, which videotaped the testimony of the survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust. More than 52,000 interviews were recorded in 56 countries and in 32 languages. Testimony was taken from Jewish survivors, Jehovah’s Witness survivors, homosexual survivors, liberators and witnesses, political prisoners, rescuers and aid providers, gypsy survivors, survivors of Eugenics policies, and war crimes trials participants.

Mark sacrificed the pain of sharing his experience for our edification.  This is the sign of a courageous humanitarian and a friend of many, including the University of California, Riverside.

During the evening, he was asked whether he held any anger.

His answer was as noble as it was short.

His answer was no.

Think about this…despite the horrors of the time, Mark reasoned that it would be senseless to blame the many – a country or its people – for the acts of a few within that country.  And, that while he will forever regret losing his childhood, why add to the burden over the years by harboring animus?

This is the lesson that is both timely and timeless, and it is profound enough to transcend birthplace, citizenship, faith, circumstance and time.

Lesson learned. Thank you, Mark.



Tim White, Chancellor

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Peace and Conflict
Join us to hear award-winning documentary filmmaker and peace activist Abigail Disney give the this year’s Forest S. Mosten Lecture in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, at the UCR Alumni and Visitors Center, 3701 Canyon Crest Drive, Riverside.

Know what is worth reading
Congratulations to Professor Tom Lutz for gathering west coast literary voices for the launch of a new entity, the Los Angeles Review of Books. This is a place for major writers to gather electronically – a 21st century coffee house designed to exploit the latest online technologies in a changed publishing world.

Living the Promise
Explore the amazing biosensor technology being developed at UCR….watch a video at:

Find out what else is going on at UC Riverside: http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

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