posted January 13, 2010

Auschwitz Survivor Tova Friedman to Speak at Hope on Jan. 27

Auschwitz survivor Tova Friedman will speak at HopeCollege on Wednesday, Jan. 27, the 65th anniversary of her liberation from the Nazi death camp.

The event will take place in the MaasCenter auditorium, and will begin at 4 p.m. with a presentation of the PBS documentary "Surviving Auschwitz: Children of the Shoah," with Friedman featured during a question-and-answer session immediately afterward.  A reception will follow at 5:30 p.m. in the MaasCenter conference room.

 The public is invited.  Admission is free.

More than one million people, most of them European Jews, were murdered by the Nazis at the Auschwitz concentration camp complex, which was located in southern Poland.  The January 27 anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp was designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005.

Friedman, at age six, was one of the youngest of the 7,000 prisoners found alive during the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviet army in 1945.  She and two other women who had been among the children liberated - Frieda Tenenbaum and Rachel Hyams - were interviewed by author and 1963 Hope graduate Milton Nieuwsma of Holland for his 1998 book "Kinderlager: An Oral History of Young Holocaust Survivors."

The 2005 documentary, produced by PBS affiliate WGVU in Grand Rapids, centers on Friedman and Tenenbaum as they returned to Auschwitz in the summer of 2004 accompanied by their own children and reflected on both their experience at the camp and their lives before and since.

Among other honors, the documentary received a Michigan Emmy Award from the Michigan chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and a First Place Gold Camera Award at the International Film and Video Festival in Los Angeles.  Nieuwsma's book, reprinted in 2005 under the title "Surviving Auschwitz as a companion to the documentary, earned multiple honors, including being named a "Best Book for Teens" by the New York Public Library and selection by the Institute for Higher European Studies as one of the top 10 books written on the Holocaust.

Friedman's visit to Hope will be among a variety of appearances in West Michigan.  She will be speaking to students at the middle school and high school in Kenowa Hills on Tuesday, Jan. 26, and at HollandHigh School earlier on Wednesday, Jan. 27; and will be featured during an event open to the public at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m.

The MaasCenter is located at 264 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.