Frances Cutler Hahn was three years old when her parents dropped her off at La Maison des Petits Enfants to hide her from the Nazis. Lily Isaacs was born in Germany to two Polish Holocaust survivors in 1947. Both Hahn and Isaacs will present at Middle Tennessee State University’s annual Holocaust Education Day on Nov. 15.
The free event is open to the MTSU community and local public. It is co-sponsored by MTSU’s College of Education, the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and other organizations both on and off campus.
Jill Coble, a co-organizer of the event, said she chose to bring in Hahn, a hidden child and survivor, to show the reality of the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust Education Day event benefits attendees with first-person testimony to history that continues to be challenged by deniers,” Coble said in an email to The Jewish Observer Nashville.
Some people attempt to negate or outright deny the events of the Holocaust in order to “wash away the stains of Nazism” and justify their alt-right beliefs, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Coble added that teaching about the Holocaust is necessary especially given current world events.
“This year, the importance of Holocaust Education Day is particularly poignant as the events in Israel since Oct. 7 present painful reminders of the [World War II] atrocity,” Coble said, referencing the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
There are a little over a dozen Holocaust survivors currently living in Nashville, per the Tennessee Holocaust Commission.
“The community of Tennessee survivors continues to dwindle as many have passed,” Coble said. “Still, those I've known personally always reminded me to keep telling the story of what happened to them and their families because, as a teacher, I had an audience of students who would only know what happened in [t]he Holocaust if they were taught and encouraged to be aware of the dangers of hate.”
The theme of this year’s event is exploring the Holocaust through literature and music. Coble said throughout the program, a violinist will be performing songs composed by survivors during their time in concentration camps as well as selections from well-known films.
Event staff will provide teachers with book and movie lists recommended by the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, which is consistent with the educational goals of the Commission’s “Living On” exhibit.
“The Living On exhibit will emphasize that these were and are the tools which demonstrate the resilience of those who survived, as well as the strength of those family members who want their relatives’ story to live on,” Coble said.
Hear from Frances Cutler Hahn and Lily Isaacs in the MTSU Learning Resources Center Room Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.