On April 30, 2013 at 7pm, Dr. Eugen Schoenfeld, scholar, Holocaust survivor, and Educator Director for the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust shared his story to the community of Lakeland, Georgia. He spoke to a packed auditorium at Lanier County High School and through live feed in the cafeteria where additional audience members were seated. The event was free and open to the public. The following morning he spoke to honors students and faculty at Lanier County High School about the causes of and events that led up to the Holocaust.
This event was made possible by the following co-sponsors:
State Representative Jason Shaw
Patten Seed Company
Cathy and Jeff Helms, Attorneys at Law
Lee and Associates of Valdosta
Lakeland/Lanier Chamber of Commerce
Mrs. Nell Roquemore
The Lanier County Historical Society
Lanier County High School Student Council
Dr. Schoenfeld was born November 8, 1925 in Mukacevo, Czechoslovakia. Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party ascended to power in Germany in early 1933 and demanded the Sudentenland, an area of Czechoslovakia where the majority of the population was ethnically German, be “returned” to the German Reich. In 1938, it was annexed to Germany by the leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Germany in exchange for peace in response to Hitler’s increasingly violent threats. However, less than a year later, the Nazis began an invasion of Czechoslovakia and other regions of Europe. World War II began with the German invasion of Poland in September of 1939. Anti-Jewish laws originally outlined in the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935 extended to Nazi-occupied countries, stripping hundreds of thousands of Jews of their basic rights and made life increasingly difficult. Many nations kept strict immigration quotas that prevented Jews from seeking asylum elsewhere. Dr. Schoenfeld and his family were among the victims who were taken from their homes by the Nazis and their collaborators.
From 1944 to 1945, Dr. Schoenfeld was interned as a prisoner in Auschwitz, Warsaw, Dachau and Muehldorf. Unable to continue his medical studies in Prague after the war, he immigrated to the United States of America and studied at Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri). He went on to receive a Masters of Sociology from Washington University Graduate School. He received his PhD from Southern Illinois University, Department of Sociology in 1966. Dr. Schoenfeld currently serves as the Education Director at the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. He travels throughout the Georgia, speaking on his lifetime experiences to students, libraries, civic groups and government officials. He has written two books, My Reconstructed Life and Faith and Conflict.
Viki Staley, Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Executive Director, says, “the Commission is very excited to bring this program to Lakeland, Georgia. Programs like this are vital to bringing awareness to communities throughout the state that the Holocaust was not just a period of time and that Jews were not the only victims. It is important for our young people to understand that genocides can still happen again unless people make the right choices in life and treat one another with dignity and understanding. Dr. Schoenfeld’s story is one of survival and hope. The experience of hearing him speak is one that will not soon be forgotten.”