Online Symposia, 6:00 PM EDT
Livestream of Ceremony, 7:00 PM EDT
Virtual Farewell, 8:00 PM EDT
Speakers will be announced in the coming weeks – see below for the topics of our online discussions.
Kurt Hirschfeld: Theatre as a Weapon
After fleeing to Switzerland, charismatic playwright Kurt Hirschfeld barely hides his subversive anti-war and anti-fascist messages in his theatrical performances. But is it safe to be so daring, even after escaping Germany?
It’s 1940. Western Europe is collapsing under Hitler’s onslaught. Kurt Hirschfeld, a famous Jewish playwright, helps to smuggle a famous actor named Wolfgang Langhoff (the Leonardo DiCaprio of his time), newly freed from a concentration camp, out of Germany and into Switzerland. Life in Hitler’s Germany is untenable for people like them: artists, communists, and Jews. In Switzerland, they team up with a ragtag band of other war-scarred artists, exiled playwrights and actors, forming a formidable theatre collective that uses the stage to daringly rage against Hitler’s relentless war machine. While tanks close in, Hirshfeld’s plays inspire anti-Semitic protests and violent retaliation because they point an unwavering finger at the madness of the times and cement his reputation as one of the more subversive and clever artists to ever use the stage to expose villainy.
Florence Mendheim: The Jewish Librarian Who Spied on Nazis
A young, Jewish librarian in New York risks her life to spy on the growing Nazi movement in America. She passes herself off as a Nazi sympathizer, documenting the movement’s nefarious activities. Her goal? To shut them down for good and to live to tell the tale.
Leading up to World War II, Nazism is on the rise in America. A young, single, Jewish librarian in New York named Florence Mendheim makes the perilous decision to spy on the increasingly dangerous movement. Adopting a fake German persona, she attends American Nazi rallies and works in their headquarters, befriending her sworn enemy, all while gathering names and intel and fending off their advances. The info she gets winds its way to the highest echelons of American power. Everything is on the line – her family, her work and her life – to try to halt hate in its tracks. As Nazism becomes a gathering storm, will she get out of the spy game before she’s caught?
The Life and Work of William Nussbaum
An ambitious German-Jewish eugenicist sets out to prove that Jews are not an “inferior race.” He has no idea the science he believes in will one day keep him from his family and be weaponized against his own people.
William Nussbaum, a German-Jewish race scientist and eugenicist, meticulously gathered data on over 1,000 Jewish people between 1933-35. It was an ambitious project – never before done by a Jewish-German and definitely not in 1933, the year Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. Under the watchful eye of the Gestapo, he believed race science would prove that Jews were in fact a part of the European race and not separate (and thus inferior) as Nazi propaganda suggested. All the while, he was working like mad for his family to emigrate, sensing that things were only going from bad to worse for Jews. Little did Nussbaum know the science he depended on to save his people would be used to try to keep him from his youngest son - who was initially denied a visa to enter the U.S. – and to justify the “Final Solution” less than a decade later.