Last weekend, Lawrence hosted a symposium titled “Austrian Jews: Exile and Holocaust.” The symposium was organized by Professor of Music Catherine Kautsky and Professor of History Paul Cohen, in conjunction with Hillel, the Lawrence University Jewish student organization.
The symposium examined the experience of Austrian Jews during World War II from various perspectives, including historical and musical.
The symposium’s greatest accomplishment was its interdisciplinary nature. Professors from several different departments such as history, music, theatre arts and dance were involved, and therefore students from numerous fields of study could find interest in many of the various events.
We at The Lawrentian also believe, however, that the scheduling of the symposium was far from ideal. Last weekend was possibly the busiest of the term, with such events as Ormsby Zoo Days, the Latin American Film Festival, five student recitals, three area recitals, the PEP and Hi, I’mProv show, the language immersion trip to Bjorklunden and more.
We believe that an event like the Austrian Jews Symposium should be treated as a focal point of the weekend, and that the schedule should be kept light to maintain that focus. We realize that the scheduling of the other programs last weekend occurred independently of the scheduling of the symposium, but we urge organizations on campus to consider the schedule of other organizations’ events when planning their own.
Most of the three-day symposium’s events were well-attended. The turnout to hear the survivors tell their stories was incredibly high. The Pusey Room was filled, and sitting students covered the entire floor. While this high attendance is a good problem to have, it would have been nice had the survivors been put in a larger room, allowing for more students and community members to comfortably attend.
We at The Lawrentian would like to congratulate Kautsky and Cohen, as well as all others involved with the symposium. It was a great program that examined a topic that is sometimes difficult to talk about in a very in-depth and meaningful way.
We especially appreciate the effort to bring Holocaust survivors to campus, as we know that that opportunity is an extremely rare one and one that is getting rarer each day.