Quad Cities’ community honors Holocaust history

Charles+Budan+at+the+ribbon+cutting+ceremony+for+the+opening+of+the+new+Anne+Frank+exhibit+at+the+Putnam+Museum.+

Jennifer Cook Gregory

Charles Budan at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the new Anne Frank exhibit at the Putnam Museum.

Katy Babcock, Copy Editor

Almost a century ago, human history endured one of its most horrid tragedies: the Holocaust. 

The year 2022 marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Author Anne Frank was a teenager when she was forced into hiding from the Nazis. Despite her unthinkable circumstances, Frank continued to write diary entries regularly. Her account of this time is still read today and taught to children across the world. Frank’s written records have ensured that this tragedy will never be forgotten. 

“The Diary of Anne Frank” and other accounts of the Holocaust are vital ties to the past. Without them, who is to say that something similarly abhorrent won’t occur again? 

The Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities (JFQC), founded in 1980, has organized several fall and winter events to educate citizens of the Quad Cities about the Holocaust. Titled “Out of Darkness”, this coalition comprises programs ranging from ballets and museums to discussions and films. 

One event held in early September was a performance of the biographical play “My Brother’s Gift,” starring PV senior Charles Budan. Budan has a great deal of experience performing, but this role was unlike any other he had played before. 

Based on the true story of Heinz Geiringer, a young Jewish artist, “My Brother’s Gift” is a short poignant play adapted by Claudia Haas from the writings of Eva Schloss (Geiringer’s younger sister). Geiringer was an artist in every sense of the word: a painter, pianist, guitarist and storyteller. After living in solitude for years, he was taken to a concentration camp where he tragically passed. Only his mother, sister and artwork lived to tell his tale. 

There are so few Holocaust survivors living to tell their stories, so when they speak everyone must listen. Budan was lucky enough to meet one. 

Budan expressed his gratitude for the unexpected opportunity. “I thought it was going to be just another show but it turned out to be such a special experience. I was given the chance to correspond with Eva Schloss, I met the playwright, Claudia Haas and I was asked to take part in a ribbon cutting for the opening of the new Anne Frank exhibit at the Putnam Museum where you can see some of Heinz’s work on display,” he said. The performance will be broadcasted on WQPT this November. 

Despite being familiar with the Holocaust from history classes at school, and visiting the Imperial War Museum in London, Budan’s role in the show was a transformative experience. “I definitely became more familiar with the experience of Jewish people who were forced into hiding. Something I hadn’t thought about was the exploitation Jewish families faced from their benefactors. I think many stories and portrayals of this period aim to romanticize those benefactors and make them look like heroes. Meanwhile, ‘My Brother’s Gift’ does not shy away from showing how those benefactors could extort the Jewish families they claimed to protect,” Budan continued. 

The executive director of JFQC, Allan Ross, is passionate about promoting Holocaust education and preventing hate. Ross was heavily involved in the “Out of Darkness” coalition and hopes it will leave a long-lasting impact on the community. 

To date, there are still people who deny the Holocaust even happened. These deniers genuinely believe the mass genocide of the Jewish, disabled, Black, and queer people did not occur. Fortunately, the JFQC is dedicated to undoing this mindset by remembering history to improve the future. “For if we don’t, how can we prevent future holocausts and genocides from happening?” Ross said. 

As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, more responsibility falls on the current generation of changemakers to continue educating the world. 

A few notable events are listed below as well as many more on the Out of Darkness website: