Mali Goldblatt. Arnold Goldenberg. Charlotte Goldenberg. Henriette Goldenberg. Janku Goldenberg. Devorah Finegold. Yossel Finegold. Yisreal Finegold. Marja Knoller. Ida Knotek. Rudolf Knotek.
Those are just a sampling of the 6 million names being read off one by one, hour by hour on the Diag yesterday and today. Each name has one thing in common with all the others – it is not just a name but a person who was a victim of the Holocaust.
Holocaust victims included a range of groups, including Jews, Russians, homosexuals, communists, socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies and the handicapped. They were forced out of their homes and into Nazi-created ghettos and forced-labor camps, and many were eventually sent to extermination camps.
The 24-hour Memorial of Names, part of Hillel’s 24th Annual Conference on the Holocaust, started yesterday at noon and will continue until today’s noon memorial service. As part of the Memorial of Names, University students stood on the Diag at all hours yesterday, underneath a tent lit by candlelight, at times holding a flashlight above the books containing the victims’ names.
For many students who read the victim’s names, it was a chance to personalize the tragedy’s numbers.
“All the names are significant because they are all a part of someone’s family,” said LSA freshman and conference organizer Jillian Steinhauer, whose grandparents were victims of the Holocaust. “Looking at names has a different effect than just saying, ‘oh, it’s 6 million people.’ Names make it more personal.”
Though students will read off names in the Diag for 24 hours, they will only get through a sample of the victims who died in the Holocaust. About 700 names are read every hour, leaving more than 5,800,000 names unread.
“You could just keep going. It seems like it never ends,” said Business School junior Roman Ginsburg, an organizer for the event. “It just makes you realize the magnitude of the tragedy.”
Students who want to read names are invited to stop by the Memorial of Names tent anytime before noon today.
Organizations wanting to read the names signed up for a timeslot beforehand, including the College Democrats, Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality, Volunteers In Action and the Center for Russian and East European Studies.
Students Allied for Freedom and Equality also asked to be given an hour, but conference organizers asked them not to read names as an organization after the group sponsored a lecture by “Holocaust Industry” author Norman Finkelstein.
Finkelstein, who some believe thinks Holocaust commemorations are insincere, was on campus Tuesday to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The idea is to get everyone involved,” conference organizer and LSA senior Courtney Rangen said. “This is about respect and remembrance and while I am in no way indicating that any member of SAFE denies the Holocaust, the fact that they sponsored Norman Finkelstein, who has made offensive and hurtful remarks in relation to the Holocaust, indicates an indifference or tolerance of Finkelstein’s views on SAFE’s behalf.”
Although Rangen said she encourages individual members of SAFE to participate in the reading of names, SAFE member Fadi Kiblawi, an LSA senior, said the group was disappointed about the decision.
“SAFE wanted to read the names because we mourn all human catastrophies,” Kiblawi said, adding that SAFE does not believe Finkelstein’s views deny the Holocaust or are hurtful to those remembering the victims.
“We are very disappointed because we received an email sent throughout campus inviting student groups to participate in the reading of the names, and it is unfair for them to exclude us,” Kiblawi added.