Shutting Down Oppression

February 8, 2016

Sister Susan E. Nowak’s students at Nazareth College are shining a light on the atrocities of the Holocaust, Genocide, and mass violence, with the hope of preventing future violence and the trauma it leaves in its wake. Sister Susan’s fall semester class,“Holocaust by Bullets,” documented personal stories of four community representatives, each of whom has experienced personally the devastating impact of trauma and violence and, in response, shares her/his story in the hope of motivating others to confront the sources of prejudice, injustice, and oppression.

Mr. Henry Silberstern, one of the "Birkenau Boys," shared his experience of surviving multiple concentration camps as a young boy only to find out, upon liberation, that no members of his family survived and, thus, the journey to rebuild his life was a responsibility he bore alone.

Dr. David Anderson, Visiting Scholar at Nazareth College, used images and stories of "Afro-Rochester 1910-1935" to make real the effects of racism upon multiple generations of African Americans across the city of Rochester in ways that make clear that the legacy of slavery still resonates today.

Ms. Lauren Jimmerson, a recent graduate of Nazareth's Art Therapy program, related her experience as a young woman growing up on the reservation, the struggle to build a life of promise off the reservation and within a culture that does not value her indigenous heritage, and her determination to have her identity as a Seneca woman of the Haudenosaunee People acknowledged and respected.

Finally, "Joe," a young Iraqi refugee who translated for American troops during the war and was allowed entry into the US because of death threats against him, his wife, and his children, broke open the reality of growing up in a country torn apart by war, coming into adulthood in the midst of sectarian violence, and raising children in a society with a decimated infrastructure. ("Joe" is a pseudonym used because of our community representative's concerns for the safety of his family members still living in Iraq.)

The young scholars studied the methods of Father Patrick Desbois, an internationally acclaimed Holocaust expert and activist, during a 3 day seminar with him, along with students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. To see their work, visit  

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