2018 Holocaust Workshop
March 22-23, 2018
Estelle Laughlin, Holocaust Survivor
Thursday, March 22, 2018
7 p.m. - Fine Arts Center Main Theatre
Estelle Laughlin was born in Warsaw, Poland, on July 9, 1929 to Michla and Samek Wakszlak. Estelle also had an older sister, Freda, who was born in January 1928. Michla tended to the home and children while Samek ran a jewelry shop. Estelle and Freda attended the local public school.
Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The siege on Warsaw began a week after German forces invaded Poland. On September 29, shortly after Poland’s surrender, German forces entered Warsaw. Estelle and Freda were no longer able to attend the local public school. In October 1940 German forces decreed the establishment of a ghetto. The Wakszlak family and more than 400,000 Jews from the city and surrounding areas were forced to live in a 1.3 square mile area and to wear a white armband with a blue Star of David. The food allotments rationed to the ghetto by the German authorities were not sufficient to sustain life; however, Samek was able to get extra food for his family from the black market. From July to September 1942, 300,000 ghetto residents were deported to Treblinka II, an extermination camp. During this time Estelle and her family hid in a secret room to escape the deportations.
In April 1943 German forces made one last push to liquidate the remaining 55,000-60,000 Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to work or death camps. Samek, who helped to organize the resistance movement, built a bunker in which he and his family could hide during the Warsaw ghetto uprising. As SS and police units began roundups they were met with artillery fire from resistance fighters. In retaliation, the SS began razing the ghetto, block by block. The bunker where Estelle and her family were hiding, which was in the basement of a house, was exposed by a bomb. Everyone was dragged out onto the street. The Wakszlak family was marched to the umschlagplatz (concentration point), forced to board freight train cars, and transported to Lublin/Majdanek.
Upon arrival at Majdanek the women and men were separated. Estelle, Michla, and Freda were chosen for forced labor but Samek was sent to the gas chamber. The women moved turf from one place outside the camp to another. At one point Freda was badly beaten by a German guard and could not work. She hid in the barracks, but was discovered. Her name was put on what she thought was a gas chamber list. Estelle and Michla switched places with two women who were on the same list, thus believing that the remaining Wakszlak family members could die together. Michla, Estelle, and Freda were, instead, sent to the Skarzysko concentration camp to work in a munitions factory. Later, they were sent to the Czestochowa concentration camp to work in a different munitions factory.
Soviet forces liberated Czestochowa in January of 1945. To escape pogroms in Poland the three women moved to Bavaria in August 1945 and lived there until 1947, when they moved to the United States to join Michla’s two sisters and brother in New York City. Estelle is a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Stephen Feinberg had the honor of working at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC from 1996 to 2011. From 1996 to 2000, he was the individual responsible for the development and implementation of the Museum Teacher Fellowship Program. As Director of the National Outreach program at the USHMM from 2000 to 2009, he was responsible for the creation, design, and implementation of the Museum’s entire national educational outreach program. He was the Special Assistant for Education Programs in the National Institute for Holocaust Education (NIHE) at the USHMM from 2009 to 2011. In this capacity, he coordinated NIHE’s International Educational activities as well as directing the USHMM’s teacher education programs in California, Florida, Texas, and Illinois.
He was a member of the United States delegation to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) from 1999 to 2011, working extensively with the IHRA Education Working Group. In addition to conducting teacher training programs across the United States, he has also coordinated or participated in programs in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
He joined the USHMM’s staff in Washington in 1996, but had been an educational consultant for the Museum since 1990. He is the co-editor, with Dr. Samuel Totten, of Essentials of Holocaust Education (Routledge, 2016) and Teaching and Studying The Holocaust (Allyn & Bacon, 2000).
Prior to his work at the Museum, he was a Social Studies teacher in public and private schools in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Paris, France. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco (1968-1970) and Thailand (1974-1975). Mr. Feinberg received his bachelors’ degree in history from UCLA and his masters’ degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
Maureen Feran Freedland is the daughter of Holocaust survivors and granddaughter of Holocaust victims from Czechoslovakia. Her father spoke of his journey before Maureen was mature enough to listen to it, and her mother steadfastly avoided speaking of it at all. Maureen is now endeavoring to find a voice in telling the horrific story of the Holocaust after the survivors are no longer with us. Maureen has served on the La Crosse County Board of Supervisors since 2005. She is involved with grassroots advocacy groups to further community development, public education, civil rights, jail ministry, the environment, and interfaith collaboration. She is an attorney with a background in public interest law including legal aid and as an Assistant State Attorney General. Her BA is from Emory University and JD from Loyola University. She and her husband Robert Freedland established two funds for Studies of the Shoah with the La Crosse Community Foundation for students to learn about the continuing meaning of the Holocaust in relation to worldwide current events and beliefs.
Kristi Moulton holds a Masters in Library and Information Science and a BS in Communication Art & Literature Education, and is currently the school librarian and gifted and talented teacher at Logan Middle School in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Professional interests include research and information literacy and discovering and sharing high-quality, engaging resources that can support classroom curriculum in all areas, as well as helping readers find their next favorite book. She is also active in the local theater, and in 2014 co-directed "And Then They Came For Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank" with Darryle Clott. She is the mother of 2 energetic boys and enjoys reading, traveling with her husband Mark, and playing the ukulele.
Rabbi Simcha Prombaum
Chicago native Rabbi Saul (Simcha) Prombaum, has served as spiritual leader of Congregation Sons of Abraham in La Crosse since 1982. He attended UW-Madison and received undergraduate degrees in Hebrew and History, and a masters degree in business. In 1989, he received a formal rabbinical ordination from a Chicago rabbi with whom he studied for many years. Saul worked for many years in advertising, marketing and public relations, garnering local, regional, national and international awards for his creative writing. As assistant, technical editor and researcher, Saul's contributions are cited in On the Road with Rabbi Steinsaltz: 25 Years of Pre-Dawn Car Trips, Mind-Blowing Encounters, and Inspiring Conversations with a Man of Wisdom (Jossey-Bass), Kabbalah for Dummies and Torah for Dummies (Wiley). He was also instrumental in the publication of The Halakhah of Jesus of Nazareth According to the Gospel of Matthew by Rabbi Phillip Sigal by the Society of Biblical Literature. Saul is a guest speaker on diverse topics related to Judaism and the Jewish people throughout the Coulee Region. He has taught college-level Modern and Biblical Hebrew courses at UW-La Crosse and at Viterbo University. In January, 2007 Rabbi Prombaum received an Iverson-Freking Ecumenical Award from the Bethany-St. Joseph Corporation. Saul and his wife Keren have four children and two grandchildren.
Born in 1937 and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Professor Art Shostak earned his BS degree at Cornell in 1958, and his Ph.D in Sociology at Princeton in 1961. He taught sociology courses first at the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, and later at Drexel University, both in Philadelphia, PA. Across his 42 years on campus he wrote or edited 33 books and over 165 articles advocating fresh reforms for chronic poverty, long-term unemployment, union-management strife, urban design, abortion decision-making, and computer use in K-12 schooling and in labor unions. Since retiring in 2003 Professor Shostak has become a published Holocaust scholar. His many articles and a new book urge significant changes in the telling and memorialization of an unforgivable and unforgettable crime against humanity. Art now lives in Alameda, CA, and with the help of his wife Lynn Seng, continues research into non-militant Jewish heroism throughout the Holocaust.
Gregory Wegner, resident of Bangor, WI., is the author of Anti-Semitism and Schooling under the Third Reich (2002) and numerous essays on the Third Reich, Nazi propaganda and Holocaust education published in academic journals in the United States, Germany, Belgium, Great Britain and Australia. He comes to the conference as a former high school history teacher at Milton (WI) High School (1975-1982) and later completed his PhD at UW-Madison in 1988 after which time he taught at Hofstra University (1988-1989) and UW-La Crosse (1989-2012), where he was regional coordinator for the western Wisconsin region of National History Day. He currently acts as curator and education director of the Bangor and Area Historical Society and also works as a literacy volunteer at Bangor Elementary School.
Optional Graduate Credit
For those interested in the one-credit graduate option, tuition is an additional $110. The total cost including the workshop registration fee is $185.00. Please register for the workshop by clicking the blue "Register Now" button above. Also, fill out the course registration and bring a check payable to "Viterbo University" on Thursday, March 22, 2018. The course registration and graduate assignment are linked below:
Comments from past presenters
"My observation of, and participation in, such a forum as the Holocaust Educators' Workshop at Viterbo University is a major learning event for me. To be exposed to Holocaust scholars working in this field and survivors who bring an immediacy to the subject is key. The workshop is superbly organized, with time for both concentration and reflection. The annual topics themselves are timely, reflecting the changing nature of Holocaust studies. Area teachers are no doubt the chief beneficiaries, but the community at large should consider itself fortunate to have such an ongoing program in its midst."
—Bill Younglove, Instructor/Teacher Supervisor, California State University Long Beach
"Over the past 20 years, I had the privilege of speaking in 12 states at some 200 venues, middle and high schools, universities, teacher seminars, churches and synagogues with audiences ranging from a dozen to just short of 200. But none of my speaking engagements compares with my experience at Viterbo University in La Crosse. Never before did I receive as much local media coverage as I did in La Crosse: phone interviews, live and prerecorded TV interviews and press coverage. A great credit to your PR savvy especially so because Holocaust messages often are a hard sell. Viterbo University's commitment to the moral and ethical significance of the topic had its pay-off that Friday evening when the auditorium was filled to near capacity with some 850 citizens curious to hear me speak of my Holocaust experience and the vital role played by rescuers. Mrs. Darryle Clott's leadership and commitment to the Holocaust Teachers' Workshop held annually at Viterbo University is unique in my experience and was evident wherever I looked. Viterbo University was an unknown entity to me prior to my visit to La Crosse. It no longer is and will never be forgotten.
Thank you so very much for having invited me to be part of the Holocaust Educators' Workshop."
—Peter Feigl, Holocaust Survivor
For more information contact Maureen Cooney at 608-796-3082.