When people think of the Holocaust, resistance to the Hitler-ordered mass genocide of Jews and others is often overlooked.
But resistance — whether in the form of uprisings, underground movements, religious objections or aid of victims — is the major theme of the 33rd Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide at Millersville University.
Held Wednesday-Friday, April 2-4, the event will also mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I and the Armenian Genocide; 75 years since the beginning of World War II; and the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.
All conference events are free and open to the public.
Franklin & Marshall College students, faculty and staff also remembered the Holocaust with a 24-hour name-reading vigil starting Tuesday evening in the atrium of Steinman College Center.
A broad spectrum of topics will be covered by various speakers at the MU conference. One of the presenters, Ovidiu Creanga, a researcher with the U.S. National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., will talk in a Friday morning session about the Baptists of Southern Bessarabia and their resistance to religious persecution in World War II Romania.
Today, most of Bessarabia is part of the Republic of Moldova. But from 1941-1944 under Romanian ruler Ion Antonescu, who was allied with Germany, non-Orthodox minorities could not openly practice their faith, Creanga said in a phone interview.
“It was a nightmare for them,” he said.
The main Protestant minority groups targeted by the government in Romania and the provinces of Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transnistria were Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Brethren, Bible students (also known as Stundists) and Jehovah’s Witnesses, he said. Some Orthodox minorities were victimized, too, including churches that refused to abandon the Julian religious calendar in favor of the Gregorian one, Creanga said.
Believers were forced to meet in their homes, but when the secret police found out, they were arrested and given the choice of abandoning their faith and becoming Orthodox, or facing trial and probable incarceration, he said.
Documents he’s examined show that many resisted pressure from the state — even if it meant internment in camps, Creanga said.
•The conference will open at 7 p.m. April 2 with the documentary film «Misa’s Fugue» in Millersville University’s Student Memorial Center.
April 3-4, sessions will take place in Bolger Conference Center in Gordinier Hall.
The keynote speech will be presented by Zvi Gitelman, the Preston R. Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, on the topic «Rumination, Resignation and Resistance.»
Following Friday’s sessions, a cultural program from 2-4 p.m. in Myers Auditorium, McComsey Hall, will feature a reading from Barry Kornhauser’s adaptation of the novel «The Devil’s Arithmetic,» performed by Millersville students. Kornhauser is the family arts collaborative manager at MU.
A special exhibit from the Blavatnik Archive — «Lives of the Great Patriotic War: The Untold Story of the Soviet Jewish Soldiers in the Red Army During WWII» — will also be held during the conference in Room 106 of the McNairy Library and Learning Forum.