Holocaust survivor visits Delta for documentary about her life

Holocaust Survivor Irene Miller Visits Delta

By Jessica Sierocki, photo editor. 

UNIVERSITY CENTER, MI Holocaust survivor Irene Miller visited Delta on April 12 for the screening of the film “Irene: Child of the Holocaust,” a documentary about her life. Kimberly Wells, assistant professor of electronic media, produced the film alongside director Ken LaPlace.

“I think Irene’s message was important to hear, especially in this day and age. Her story is so timely right now, and every day we are losing Holocaust survivors and their stories,” says Wells.

As a child, Miller survived workcamps in Siberia during the Holocaust. Before crossing the Russian border, Miller and her family stayed in “no man’s land” during a harsh winter. Miller recounted several memories from her experiences, including the story of how her mother miraculously found her family after being denied access to cross into Russia at the same time as her family.

Being in Russia, Miller’s story highlighted a different perspective of the Holocaust, while at the same time showing how dangerous of a time it was. Out of 70 extended Jewish family members, Miller and her sister were the only ones to survive.

“The Holocaust was the darkest chapter of human history. It is very important that we understand that horrors like the Holocaust don’t happen all at once – it comes in very small increments. It started off spreading hate, creating horrible images of the Jews and then all sorts of social injustices arose. It eventually became a monster that was difficult to control,” says Miller.

After the screening of the film, Miller opened up a discussion for the audience members. Miller spoke about her experiences writing her memoir.

“I cried a lot. I just started talking about my experiences a few years ago. Before that I didn’t even talk about it with my children. When I talk about it, I am there, and sometimes it still becomes difficult. I can get emotional at one point or another and it catches me off guard, but other than that, I have a fulfilling life to live,” says Miller.

Miller wrote a memoir titled “Into No Man’s Land,” wherein she recounts her past as a 5-year-old living through the Holocaust. She now visits schools all across the nation to share her story in hopes that history will not repeat itself.

“I use my Holocaust experience to promote tolerance and acceptance of diversity. In particular, it’s important to me to address young people because the youth will be the leaders of this nation. It’s also important to me to stress to people not to be a bystander, because we wouldn’t have six million Jews killed if people wouldn’t have just watched,” says Miller.

The screening was put on through the Humanities Learning Center. Amy French, Humanities Learning Center coordinator, says the goal of the Humanities Learning Center is to give students and community members a free opportunity to engage in important discussions about a vast array of different topics.

“This screening should be important to faculty members and students. We are very excited that Kimberly Wells brought this film to us so we could share Irene’s story with everyone,” says French.

The screening and speaking presentation was the last of the year to be put on by the Humanities Learning Center. French was satisfied with the outcome of the event.

“I think the students gave the presentation the respect that a film of this magnitude and issue deserves. I’m sure her message will stay with us all long after we leave this room,” says French.

For those who missed the event, the film will be aired on April 23 at 7 p.m. on Delta’s PBS channel. Visit www.irenemillerspeaker.com to learn more about Miller’s story.


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