Peru State College
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News Release
 
01/11/10

Holocaust Survivor to Speak at Peru State, Area High Schools as Part of MLK Day

 

(Peru, Neb.) Peru State College (PSC) will host Holocaust survivor Elane Norych Geller during an open convocation in the PSC College Theatre, located at the south end of Hoyt Science Hall, at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, as part of the campus’ celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Geller will speak about the dangers of bigotry, racism and hatred.

The college is also sponsoring Geller’s visits to three area high schools. Her schedule is as follows:

Monday, Jan. 18
Auburn High School: 9:30-10:30 a.m. – Gymnasium
(Students from Johnson-Brock will also attend.)
Falls City High School: 1:55-2:55 p.m. – Auditorium
(Students from Falls City Sacred Heart will also attend.)

Tuesday, Jan. 19
Peru State College: 11 a.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 20
Nebraska City High School: 8:45–9:45 and 10:00-11:00 – Auditorium
(Students from Nebraska City Lourdes will also attend.)

All events are free and open to the public.

Geller was only four years old when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. Soon after, her small town was overrun by the Wermacht. As a child she witnessed the murder of family members while she and other survivors were transported first to the ghettos and then to the death camps. On April 15, 1945, she was one of the 60,000 prisoners of Bergen-Belsen liberated by the British army. Almost 30,000 of those survivors died in the following days due to severe malnutrition and disease from their suffering under Nazi imprisonment. 

Geller lectures as one of a small group of “Survivor” volunteers at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Santa Monica, Calif., and travels extensively throughout the country speaking on the dynamics of racism and tolerance. She tells her story not only to remember the past, but also, in her own words, to "recognize the disease of racism and bigotry and empower people to say something. When you’re silent, you become part of the problem."

“I believe passionately,” Geller said, “that activism is the only way to go. There is a reason we are all different. We cannot do anything but celebrate our differences. There will always be hatred,” but by speaking out against it and celebrating difference, Geller remains confident, despite everything she has been through, that “we can relegate those who hate to the back rooms and basements, where they belong.”

For additional information on Geller’s visit to southeast Nebraska, contact Student Activities Coordinator Chelsea Allgood at callgood2@peru.edu or 402-872-2252 or Assistant to the President Linda Moody at lmoody@peru.edu or 402-872-2239.