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November 14, 1986 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-11-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

PURELY COMMENTARY

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Challenge From The North To Teach Unknowing About Holocaust

From the northern Michigan
public-spirited Cohodas family and a
group of academicians at Northern
Michigan University, all of Marquette,
comes the challenge that Holocaust facts
should not be ignored and that the un-
knowing should be taught about the hor-
rors inflicted by the German Nazis upon
mankind with the Jews as the chief vic-
tims.
Nonagenarian Sam Cohodas, ad-
mired in scores of communities in north-
ern Michigan, inspired his nephews
William and Arnold to share with him
deep interest in Israel and especially the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with a
dedication to all causes involving their
fellow Jews.
Becoming aware of an igndrance
prevailing about the Hitler-formulated
insanities with an aim to destroy the
Jewish people, William Cohodas under-
took to establish courses on the
Holocaust and he received strong support
in his efforts from Northern Michigan
University. That effort became a fact
and the pioneering task at NMU now
serves as a challenge for other areas in
the country to emulate the educational
program introduced in Marquette.
The experiences learned by the
sponsors of the important teaching effort
affirm the distress that has been caused
by the ignorance prevalent about the
tragedy of the World War II era. Bill
Cohodas was especially concerned by a
spreading Big Lie about the Holocaust

never having occurred, with the malig-
nancy that Jews created the Holocaust
Lie as they termed it for selfish purposes
to win undeserved sympathy. He was in-
duced to proceed with his idea of intro-
ducing courses exposing the Nazi crimi-
nality and calling attention to the mass
suffering of Jews. The success he is at-
taining thus serves as a call to action by
Jewish communities everywhere, espe-
cially the smaller with few Jewish citi-
zens. Bill Cohodas best relates his ex-
periences and the encouraging results of
his task himself. This what he relates:
Tracing the years of his studies of
the records relating to the Nazi at-
rocities, expressing shock over the new
bigotries in the anti-Jewish campaigns
to deny that Germans' had resorted to
mass murders of millions of Jews and
Christians, William Cohodas conferred
with Dr. Appleberry, president of North-
ern Michigan University, and "asked
him if the university would be interested
in having me fund a Holocaust Informa-
tion Center in the university library. He
was very receptive and turned the mat-
ter over to Alan Donovan, vice president
for academic affairs and the history de-
partment, for implementation."
That's how the Holocaust Informa-
tion Center became a reality and is now
a part of the university library.
Bill Cohodas transmitted these facts
in letters he addressed to five other col-
leges and universities in Michigan's
Upper Peninsula. They were informed

Maxim Gorky As A Libertarian
Who Defended Russian Jewry

t

2

In this era of libertarian struggles
against oppressive anti-Jewish policies
in the Soviet Union, it is obligatory to
remember those who demanded just
rights for the abused. The 50th an-
niversary of a deeply-moving, hitherto
unpublished speech by the Russian
novelist Maxim Gorky who had an
enviable record as a fighter for justice
provides an opportunity to recall that
courageous act in another era with an
atmosphere of hatred.
Recollection of that occasion must
be accompanied by recognition of the
continuing — endless! — prejudicial
Russian policy toward the Jews. With
but few exceptions, anti-Semitism has
been, as it remains, a Russia credo. It
was paramount under the Czars. The
Kremlin seems to have inherited and
adhered to it, although the statutes of
Communist ideology speaks out against
anti-Semitism. In practice it is among
the worst manifestations of bigotry evi-
denced anywhere. How else- can one
judge the facts: that from the USSR
comes endorsement of a partnership
with the PLO, encouragement -.without
rejection by the Kremlin of the Blood
Libel and the equally atrocious and fal-
sified Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
Maxim Gorky is now called to wit-
ness that not all members of a single
national group can be haters and that
there are noble exceptions. Maxim
Gorky is the most outstanding example
of all in the Russian record.
While a famous speech he deliv-
ered in this country in 1906 is being
recalled, it is important to recall
equally important declarations by him
several years prior to 1906. While
ZionisM and Israel are now being
treated outrageously by USSR spokes-
people, it is important to note that as

Friday, November 14, 1986

far back as 1902 Gorky made these
statements in the then important
American periodical, the Maccabaean:
"I am told Zionism is a utopia. I do
not know; perhaps. Not inasmuch as I
see in this utopia an inconquerable
thirst for freedom, one for which people
will suffer, it is for me a reality. With
all my heart I pray that the Jewish
people, like the rest of humanity, may
be given spiritual strength to labor for
its dream and to establish it in flesh
and blood."
Currently; on the 50th anniversary
of Gorky's death, the liberal monthly
periodical Jewish Currents, edited by
the Jewish historian Morris U. Schap-
pes, reproduces the famous Gorky
speech of 1906.

Jewish Currents' editorial note ex-
plains that during his visit in New
York in 1906 he "delivered a major ad-
dress on `The Jews in Russia,' reported
in the Socialist newspaper, the Worker,
May 5, 1906 ... the text reprinted here
for the first time, in appreciation of the
50th anniversary of his death, is given
here in full. The headlines were:
"Gorky on the Jewish question . . .
Jews are hated because they are revo-
lutionists ... Great Russian writer dis-
cusses anti-Semitism at meeting in
Grand Central Palace — says Tsar's
government regards every Jew as a
menace to his tyranny."
The text of the long speech, now
reproduced, becomes an important
document in Russian Jewish history
and a valuable expose by a Russian of
the anti-Semitism in his country in the
years that preceded the Communist
era.
While the histOic,. speech 18 in it-

Continued on Page 20 .

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Arnold Cohodas, Sam Cohodas and William Cohodas.

that the first Holocaust study class
commenced this fall under the direction
of Dr. Robert McCullen of the univer-
sity's history department. All of the
books and manuscripts Cohodas accumu-
lated are now in that center. He added to
them two movies on the Holocaust, plus
the now famous nine-and-a-half hour
film Shoah. The university now is ready-
ing to show the latter film to the student
body of MSU and to the general public
in Marquette and nearby communities
where the Holocaust films had never
been shown.
The urgency of "never forgetting," of
keeping the memories alive of the hor-
rors perpetrated by the Nazis so that
they may never again be repeated de-
mand that the Cohodas experience
should be broadcast in the hope of being
emulated. Here is how Bill Cohodas in-
troduced his serious task to the univer-
sities:
Here are several reasons why
I feel so strongly that our U.P.
youth groups should be better
educated and become knowl-
edgeable on the Holocaust.
(1) About five years ago the
board of NMU proclaimed a
Holocaust Observance Week.
They asked me to secure an out-
standing speaker to visit the his-
tory classes and work with the
students and also give an evening
public address. I suggested to the
dean of students that the subject
be discussed ahead of time so the
students would be better pre-
pared. He called me back to re-
port that 70 percent of the NMU
students had never heard of the
Holocaust.
(2) There have been any
number of books written here in
the U.S. and in Canada claiming
that the Holocaust never hap-
pened and proceeding to try and
prove it.
(3) The "Blood Libel" which
has started in England in the
11th and 12th Century, which ac-
cused the Jews of killing Chris-
tian children to use their blood to
make the Passover matzo was
revived through the centuries
and reached official government
backing in Russia during the
later 19th and early 20th Century.
Everyone thought it was finally
put to rest. This past week in the
news it was reported that Mus-
tafa Tlas, Syrian defense minis-
ter, came out with a book on the
Damascus Blood libel, calling it a
"historical work." He claimed
that, "the vehement reaction to

the book proves that the facts
described in it are irrefutable."

(4) I was invited by Prof.
McCullen to visit his Holocaust
class, which meets every Tuesday
from 6 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. I told
the students when they asked me
various questions about the Hol-
caust that my main interest in the
Holocaust now was to be sure
that our young people under-
stand and know what happened
over 50 years ago so they, as the
future leaders of our country,
could prevent a similar human
tragedy from ever happening
again. I told them that when one
of the most educated and bril-
liant groups of human beings,
Germany and her allies, could be
responsible for the deaths of
6,000,000 Jews, plus another
6,000,000 others because of war
and its results, that they had to
be the future guardians of the
human race ...
Dr. Donovan told me, as did
the head librarian, that the uni-
versities and colleges in the U.P.
have a cultural exchange. I told
Dr. Donovan that I would be very
pleased to have them make
available to your school all the
materials, movie tapes and other
information which I have put
into the Holocaust Information
Center to be used to help your
students better understand and
thus guard against this terrible
human tragedy from ever hap-
pening again. I would hope that
you might consider offering a
course on the Holocaust in your
regular curriculum.
Dr. Donovan told me there is
to be a meeting at Bay de Noc
Community College in Escanaba
in a couple of weeks, and he said
he would discuss this with you at
that time. I also told him that I
would be happy to meet with you
and your faculty person who
would be able to work in this
field. I am hoping that something
positive will take place.
The Cohodas contribution toward
educating the unknowing is receiving
wide acclaim. An example: Rena Fowler,
director of the Northern Michigan Uni-
versity library, commending the spon-
sors, acknowledging their gifts, assured
them of the university's as well as her
personal appreciation, stating: "Northern
Michigan University and the Olson Li-
brary are most appreciative of your
commitment and generous support for

Continued on Page 20

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