Looking at the Holocaust through art, music

Sep 12, 2013

Carol Dusdieker, Music Professor at Heidelberg UniversityAs Americans, we are besieged by advertising in various formats. But very rarely do we stop to think that we are being sold something. This was the premise that music professor Dr. Carol Dusdieker employed when she sought to develop a pair of programs that will be part of the three-day Lichtman-Behm Genocide Lecture Series next week.

Dusdieker is among five faculty and one staff member who will present mini-sessions for middle school and high school students who will descend on campus on Wednesday to learn more about the Holocaust. Her session is titled “Long Live the Reich: Nazi Art as Propaganda.”

“I looked at a variety of posters and on one of them, there was a perfect German family. On top of the poster was a swastika. That really struck me in a very profound way,” she said. “We all know everything the swastika has come to represent.”

Propaganda has a way of hiding its power to sway people, she explained. Her message to the students is that speeches, ads and cultural events that promote products are not always what they seem.

The mini-sessions are designed will prepare the students for a keynote lecture around the theme of Women of the Holocaust. They will hear from Jill Rembrandt, who represents the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland, as well as a female Holocaust survivor.

Other faculty members who will present mini-sessions from the perspectives of their disciplines are Drs. Kylee Spencer (biology), Courtney DeMayo (history), Ellen Nagy (German), Marc O’Reilly (political science) and Chaplain Paul Stark.

Additionally, Dusdieker and School of Music colleague Dr. Margarita Denenberg will conclude the series with an artistic presentation that personalizes Nazi persecution, titled “entartete Kunst: The Nazi Regime's Persecution of the Arts.”

“We will look at how people survived, what they went through and how they used music as a respite and a source of comfort and rebellion,” she said.

She plans to incorporate some live and some recorded performances to explore how music evolved before and after the Nazis’ rise to power.

The presentation will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Gundlach Theatre.