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February 21, 2000


LA CROSSE, Wis.— Alicia Appleman-Jurman knows what it’s like to suffer. During World War II, her brothers, father, mother, and friends were killed—victims of the Holocaust.

Appleman-Jurman, who gives a powerful account of her personal experience as a Jew in World War II Poland in her autobiographical novel, Alicia: My Story, will speak at the Viterbo Fine Arts Center Main Theatre on Tuesday, April 4, from 11:30 a.m. ? 1 p.m.

Her book, Alicia: My Story, traces her life as a young girl, from ages 9-15, during World War II. Appleman-Jurman was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust. And, not only did she survive, she saved the lives of thousands of Jewish people.

Following the lecture, she will autograph books in the Fine Arts Center lobby. The lecture, which is open to the public, is free but a ticket is required. In lieu of an admission fee, donation of a non-perishable food item for local food pantries will be accepted before the presentation.

Tickets will be available to the public at the Murphy Center reception desk on the Viterbo campus beginning Monday, March 6.  See article below for additional information, or call Viterbo College at 796-3000.


Holocaust survivor and author Alicia Appleman-Jurman believes if you can get your message across to children, it will eventually find its way to adults, says Viterbo College instructor Kate Rutherford.

That’s what happened when Rutherford’s oldest daughter visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and came back with a copy of Appleman-Jurman’s Alicia: My Story. After reading the book, Rutherford’s daughter was so moved that she insisted her mom read it. Rutherford wasn’t prepared for the impact it would have on her life. The book traces the author’s life, from ages 9-15, during World War II. Appleman-Jurman, was the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust and, not only did she survive, she saved the lives of thousands of Jewish people.

 "It was just one of those stories that was amazing. I couldn’t believe what this kid went through. I said I’ve got to meet this person," said Rutherford.

So Rutherford wrote a letter to the author in care of the publisher. Appleman-Jurman, who lives in San Jose, Calif., wrote back and the two struck up a correspondence that resulted in a trip to California for Rutherford. "I stayed with Alicia for a few days when I was there. It was wonderful!" she exclaimed. During the trip, Rutherford invited Appleman-Jurman come to Viterbo. The author accepted and will speak at Viterbo on Tuesday, April 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Main Theatre. Her presentation is free and open to the public but a ticket is required.

In preparation for Appleman-Jurman’s visit, Rutherford has required all students in her Racial and Ethnic Groups class this semester to read Alicia: My Story. "I haven’t had one person say it’s not worth it. Most want to read it," said Rutherford. She hopes that reading the novel and hearing the author speak will help students better understand the experiences of the Jewish people during World War II. "There’s this misconception that Jews were like lambs led to slaughter. The reason this exists is because none of them wanted to leave their children," explained Rutherford.

 The book is also inspirational and Rutherford hopes that impacts students as well. "Alicia’s a good example of someone who’s been through hell and back and hasn’t become really bitter. For those who think their life is crummy, we have no idea how crummy it can be," she stated.

In addition to the Racial and Ethnic Groups class, Rutherford will be teaching a Holocaust class the second week in March and another in June to Viterbo graduate education students. She is also co-authoring a book with Holocaust survivor Jerry Valfer, of Rochester, Minn., on his experiences in Terezin, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia.

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