John Liffiton recalls walking alone through the snow-covered remnants of a former concentration camp called Terezin several years ago. Located near Prague, it bears a sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei” (German for “work makes free”) over an arched entryway.
That experience inspired Liffiton to found Genocide Awareness Week in 2013 at Scottsdale Community College, where he’s been an English professor for more than a decade.
It's a tough but important topic, especially during the present age marked by hate-filled rhetoric and actions.
More than 1,000 people attended that first year, Liffiton says. In 2017, the event drew more than 2,500 people for various talks and workshops, plus several thousand more for related exhibitions.
Genocide Awareness Week addresses not only the Holocaust, but also genocide in other places and time periods – including our own.
This year, the event runs from Monday, April 9, to Saturday, April 14. Members of the public can attend any or all of the first four days.
During the week, speakers will discuss cultural genocide against indigenous people, as well as environmental genocide of Native people.
“We are the only post-secondary institution in the United States located on tribal land, so it’s our responsibility to have people speak on these issues,” Liffiton says.
Additional topics include the Armenian genocide, Irish potato famine, citizenship and identity, forensic anthropologists in Bosnia, and rebuilding trust in Rwanda.
There’s also a community memorial service, as well as several arts and culture components.
The lineup looks especially compelling this year, so we’ve put together a field guide to help you navigate its many offerings, and find the ones that match your particular interests.
When: The majority of Genocide Awareness Week's programming happens between Monday, April 9, and Thursday, April 12. The first workshop starts at 9 a.m. daily, and the last begins at 6 p.m. There are four full days of programming for those who want to take it all in.
The Genocide Memorial Service takes place near the center of campus at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 10.
Where: It’s happening at Scottsdale Community College, 9000 East Chaparral Road, which is located just east of the Loop 101 Freeway.
Who: It’s presented by SCC, in partnership with several organizations, including the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Here’s a selection of Genocide Awareness Week happenings, organized by area of interest.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Post-Traumatic Growth
Esad Boskalio, Croatian concentration camp survivor
Wednesday, April 11, Noon
Survival as a Child
Charlotte Adelman, Holocaust survivor
Thursday, April 12, 3 p.m.
Respect and Tolerance in Modern Society
Oskar Knoublaugh, Holocaust survivor
Monday, April 9, 10:30 a.m.
Genocide in the Modern World
Ambassador John Evans, Retired
Monday, April 9, 6 p.m.
Environmental Genocide in Indian Country
Manuel Pino, SCC American Indian Studies
Tuesday, April 10, 10:30 a.m.
The Navajo Treaty of 1868/From Genocide to Navajo Governance and Revitalization
Jennifer Denetdeli, University of New Mexico
Monday, April 9, 1:30 p.m.
Cultural Genocide of Indigenous Peoples in the 21st Century
Natali Segovia, Honor Law Group
Tuesday, April 10, at noon
Benjamin Rundall, Honor Law Group
Tuesday, April 10, 1:30 p.m.
Living with My Father’s Stories: A Conversation with the Son of a German Soldier
Bjorn Krondorfer, Martin-Springer Institute
Wednesday, April 11, 1:30 a.m.
My Family: Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust
Irene Black, Retired psychologist and art historian
Thursday, April 12, 9 a.m.
Arts and culture
Architects of Denial: Genocide Denied is Genocide Continued
Monday, April 9, 3 p.m.
This 2017 film examines the impact of historical denial on present-day mass atrocities, primarily through first-person accounts.
The Looting of Artworks as a Means of Genocide
James Palmer, Mondex Corporation
Thursday, April 12, 6 p.m.
Here’s the exhibition and display lineup:
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“We Remember: The Holocaust Art of Robert Sutz”
Student Center Turquoise Room
Through Saturday, April 14
Scottsdale artist Robert Sutz presents his sculptures of Holocaust survivors.
“Then They Came for Us…”
Student Center Lobby
Through Monday, April 30
The exhibit addresses the Holocaust, the treatment of Blacks in Europe, and struggle for civil rights in the U.S. It’s provided by the East Valley Jewish Community Center and Center for Holocaust Education and Human Dignity.
“Who Am I: Young Minds Forced to Choose”
Student Center Lobby
Through Monday, April 30
The exhibit explores the experience of being a young Jehovah’s Witness persecuted in Nazi Germany. It was created by the Arnold-Liebster Foundation.
Genocide Awareness Week runs Monday, April 9, through Saturday, April 14, at Scottsdale Community College. Get details on the SCC website.