UCSD Holocaust Living Workshop opens April 6

Doris Martin (far left) and her family, right after the war.  Courtesy: UCSD
Doris Martin (far left) and her family, right after the war. Courtesy: UCSD

Press Release

The Holocaust Living History Workshop, sponsored by the UC San Diego Libraries and the Judaic Studies Program, will kick off April 6 with the first of three presentations during the spring quarter by Holocaust survivors.

They will share their stories of struggle and survival as part of the Holcaust Workshop, an educational outreach program designed to preserve the memory of victims and survivors of the Holocaust. This year’s series is called “Living With History,” and is intended to broaden understanding of the past and to foster tolerance.

At these presentations, members of the campus community and the public will have the opportunity to meet the survivors and hear their stories, as well as learn about other survivors’ testimony from the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, which includes the personal stories of more than 50,000 survivors of the Holocaust.

All presentations are free and open to the public, and will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Seuss Room on the main floor of the Geisel Library building on the UCSD campus.

The April 6 presentation will feature Doris Martin, who will share her experiences of the Holocaust in Poland and Germany. Born in 1926, Dora Szpringer, as she was then known, witnessed the German invasion of her native Poland as a thirteen year-old girl. In late 1942 she was deported to Auschwitz, but only a few days after arriving, she was sent to the Ludwigsdorf slave labor camp, a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen in Lower Silesia. After the war, Martin was reunited with her family. Deeply traumatized, she could not talk about her horrifying experience for decades. With the help of her husband, she committed her unique story to paper, resulting in her book, "Kiss Every Step." Martin, who has made it her mission to share the lessons of the past, will be introduced by UCSD History Professor Deborah Hertz who will frame her experience from an historian’s perspective.

The May 4 event will feature Robert Frimtzis, whose talk will be based on his memoir “From Tajikistan to the Moon.” Originally from Beltz in Bessarabia (now known as Moldova), Frimtzis was just ten years old when the Germans assaulted the Soviet Union. To flee persecution and almost certain death, his family journeyed eastward, to remote Tajikistan. While his father fought in the Red Army, Frimtzis had to provide for his family by working full-time. After the war, they ended up in a Displaced Persons camp in Cremona, Italy. Barely nineteen, he emigrated to the United States where he earned a masters degree in engineering and participated in NASA’s path-breaking Apollo program.

Amelia Glaser, a UCSD professor of Russian and Yiddish literature, will provide historical background to his harrowing experience and the cathartic power of writing.

The series will conclude on June 1 with Dr. Edith Eger, a native from Kosice, Czechoslovakia, who will give a talk called “The Spirit Never Dies.” As a girl Edith loved to dance. Her training and proficiency came in handy when, at 16, she was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Asked to perform in front of the infamous camp physician Dr. Mengele, Edith closed her eyes and imagined that she was Juliet in Tchaikovsky’s opera, dancing over the body of Romeo. After marrying and moving to the United States, she studied to become a clinical psychologist and eventually established her own practice in La Jolla, California. She will be introduced by Armin Owzar, a visiting professor of history from Germany, who will open the talk with some reflections on the broader historical context of her ordeal.

The Holocaust Living History Workshop, launched in 2007, aims to teach the history of the Holocaust through face-to-face contact, both with Holocaust survivors and their children, and through the Visual History Archive.

The UCSD Libraries are one of only three university libraries on the West Coast to have access to the USC Shoah Foundation Institute Visual History Archive, founded by film maker Steven Spielberg to document the stories of Holocaust survivors for his movie, “Schindler’s List.”

For more information about UC San Diego's Holocaust Living History Workshop, contact Susanne Hillman at


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  1. Training in the use of the Visual History Archive is available for individuals and groups upon appointment.


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