First Selectman Mike Tetreau announced today that the Town of Fairfield Holocaust Commemoration Committee has announced that the featured speaker at this year’s Holocaust Commemoration will be Dr. Richard Freund, Maurice Greenberg Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford.
In 2016, Dr. Freund headed a team of archaeologists which confirmed the existence of the “Holocaust escape tunnel” at Ponar near Vilnius, Lithuania where the Nazis murdered 100,000 people, including 70,000 Jews. The tunnel was dug by eighty courageous Jews brought to the site by the Nazis and forced to exhume and burn the bodies of those who had been killed there.
Knowing that they would be the last people killed at Ponar, they dug a tunnel over a period of two and a half months, and through it they escaped on April 15, 1944, the darkest night of Passover. Of the eighty, only twelve survived the Nazis’ bullets at the end of the tunnel. The work at the site of Dr. Freund and his team confirmed the existence of the tunnel and the stories that the survivors had told. Using modern non-invasive methods, they were able to confirm the location of the tunnel and thereby bring a legendary tale of heroism back to life.
The Town’s annual Holocaust Commemoration will take place on April 26, 2017 at First Church Congregational, 148 Beach Road in Fairfield. The Commemoration begins at 7:30 p.m. and, in addition to Dr. Freund’s presentation, will feature the Chamber Singers of the Fairfield County Children’s Choir and the Chamber Orchestra from Fairfield Ludlowe High School. In addition, survivors of the Holocaust and children of survivors will take part in a moving candle-lighting ceremony to honor the memories of the millions of Jews and non-Jews who died at the hands of the Nazi regime during the Holocaust.
This year’s event will be Fairfield’s 34th annual Holocaust Commemoration. It is not only the Commemoration of the longest standing in the area, but the Fairfield event has also become the largest commemoration of the Holocaust in the area, attracting not only citizens of Fairfield, but also residents from all of the nearby communities.
A reception and refreshments will follow the conclusion of the Commemoration service. There is no charge for this event and the public is encouraged to attend.
Each year’s Commemoration is planned by the Holocaust Commemoration Committee, which is an official committee of the Town of Fairfield and consists of more than thirty members of the community coming from diverse backgrounds and religious faiths.
For more information, please contact Committee Chair George Markley at 203-259-1177 or at GCMarkley@aol.com.
The photo shows First Selectman Mike Tetreau and Police Captain Joshua Zabin, a member of the Town's Holocaust Commemoration Committee.