2018 Holocaust Commemoration to feature new exhibit, author

Wednesday, April 11, 6:45 pm
Congregation Beth El

The Holocaust Commission of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s annual Holocaust Day of Remembrance, Yom Hashoah, will take place this year at Congregation Beth El.

The free event includes a guest speaker, a poignant candle lighting ceremony, and prayers from area clergy and leadership.

Additionally, student winners of the Holocaust Commission’s annual Elie Wiesel competitions and recipients of the Commission’s Excellence in Education awards will be honored and recognized.

This year, the Commission will also honor the Virginian Pilot and two of its reporters who have provided consistent news coverage for the Commission and its many events throughout the year.

Also at this year’s Yom Hashoah program the Commission will premier its newest project, Faces of Survival (See adjacent article), an exhibit of intimate portraits of many current local survivors that also shares a bit of their life journeys with the observer.

Dr. Mark Wygoda is this year’s guest speaker. Wygoda is part of a new generation of Holocaust speakers who share the life stories from their parents’ first hand experiences.

Wygoda is the son of Hermann Wygoda, a German-born Polish Jew who lost his mother, brother, and son to the invading Nazis early in the war. He then lived a covert life both in Poland, where he was a smuggler to the Warsaw Ghetto, and in Germany, where he had been a foreman, translator, and armed courier for a German business.

Hermann Wygoda was also known as “Comandante Enrico” to the 2,500 partisan troops he commanded as a Division Commander in the Italian Liberation Army, 1944–45. In this role, the senior Wygoda planned war actions, negotiated prisoner exchanges with the local German commander, and ultimately helped liberate the city of Savona, Italy. For this and many other heroic acts, he is widely heralded in northern Italy, where his “military” actions helped win the war. He was also awarded the Bronze Star by the US Army.

Upon his father’s death, Dr. Wygoda, a biology professor at McNeese State University, transformed his father’s war journals into a memoir, In the Shadow of the Swastika. Wygoda will share his father’s amazing story including with more than 1,000 students, during his visit to Tidewater.

For more information, visit www.HolocaustCommission.org, email info@holocaustcommission.org, or call 757-965-6100.