Sunday, April 14, 2013

Helene Berr, A Stolen Life Exhibition opens at Richland Library

Erica Safron (left), USC Honors student completing, this semester, her degree requirements in the department of Biological Sciences, welcomed to Columbia's Richland Library last evening (Wednesday, April 10, 2013) Deborah Farnault,  right) of the Memorial de la Shoah, Paris, France. Farnault, U.S. Correspondent and head of touring exhibitions in North America, traveled to Columbia from Paris, as did Jacques Fredj, Executive Director of Memorial de la Shoah, for the opening of the elucidating exhibition Helene Berr, A Stolen Life. Behind Erica and Deborah is the iconic image of Berr, a young French Jew whose WWII diary pages surfaced only in recent years. The exhibition, curated by Karen Taieb and Sophie Nagiscarde, and designed, created and circulated by the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris, is on view on the street level, Richland Library, 1431 Assembly Street. Outside Paris and the United Nations, Columbia is only the second venue for the provocative exhibition.
Safron is credited with Columbia's hosting of the exhibition, which is comprised of texts, photographs and other paper artifacts. Struck by scholarly and chronological parallels she shared with the young French woman whose life ended in the Holocaust, Safron was able to delve deeply into the details of this short, then stolen life during her study abroad semester in Paris. A scholarship, given by local Francophiles Dr. John Kososki and his wife, Carol Kososki of Columbia, made Safron's study abroad experience possible.
Safron was rewarded that her efforts, to bring the exhibition to Columbia, were appreciated when the Bostick Auditorium filled to capacity and additional chairs had to be brought in before her Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin welcomed audience members and Safon's thesis advisor, Dr. Theodore Rosengarten gave the keynote lecture of the evening. Rosengarten, who teaches both at USC Honors College and the College of Charleston revealed the story of Helene Berr as well as the provenance of the diary, which he compared to the better-known diary of Anne Frank.
The audience also paid rapt attention to closing remarks from Denis Barber, Consul General of France to the U.S. Southeast, and Fredj, who leads the organization that developed and is circulating the exhibit. Melanie Huggins, Executive Director of Richland Library welcomed attendees, introduced each speaker, and announced that the exhibit would remain on view until May 10. The audience was populated by interested community members along with representatives from sponsors: the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust, Alliance Francaise de Columbia, USC European Studies Program, USC Jewish Studies program and the Lourie Law Firm, LLC.

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