Join Dr. Steven Luckert, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Historian and Curator and Louise Lawrence-Israels, Holocaust Survivor and Museum Volunteer, in a conversation about the power of hate speech during the Holocaust and its legacy in today's wired world.
Dr. Steven Luckert
Steven Luckert is Curator of the Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Dr. Luckert joined the Museum as a historian in the Wexner Learning Center in 1994. The following year he became the Curator of the Permanent Exhibition. In this capacity, he is responsible for selection and incorporation of artifacts, researching and writing exhibition text, and handling all issues and inquiries pertaining to the exhibition.
In addition to these duties, Dr. Luckert has curated other Museum exhibitions, such as Father Jacques, which dealt with a Catholic rescuer in France, and Kristallnacht: the November 1938 Pogroms. In 1999, he co-curated Voyage of the St. Louis and Life Reborn: Jewish Displaced Persons, 1945-1951 with Susan Goldstein Snyder. In 2002, Dr. Luckert co-curated The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk. Most recently, he and Susan Snyder curated Life in Shadows: Hidden Children and the Holocaust, which opened at the Museum in September 2003, and traveled to the Spertus Museum in Chicago, the Art Center in Battle Creek, Michigan, the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, and the Minnesota Historical Society, Minneapolis. He curated the Museum’s latest exhibition, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda, which opened on January 30, 2009.
Prior to coming to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Dr. Luckert taught European history at several campuses of the State University of New York and at George Mason University. He wrote the companion volume to the exhibition, The Art and Politics of Arthur Szyk, and co-authored with Susan Bachrach, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. In 1993, he received his Ph.D. in modern European history from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
Louise was born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, in 1942. German forces had invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 and set up a German administration. The Nazi’s also confiscated the family business. By the time Louise was born antisemitic laws were enacted and Jews were forced to wear a yellow star. By July of 1942 deportations of Jews from the Netherlands to the extermination camps of Auschwitz and Sobibor had begun.
In January 1943 Louise and her family were ordered to move to Amsterdam, and shortly thereafter went into hiding to escape deportation. Louise’s father managed to rent a top floor apartment and acquired false identification papers for the family. Louise’s father had to leave the apartment after curfew to get food and medicine for the family; sometimes he brought home news about the war.
Louise’s parents tried to give the children a “normal” childhood in hiding; playing and learning colors, letters, and songs. It was in this apartment that Louise learned to walk. When air raid alarms sounded, the family took refuge on the steep staircase, the strongest and safest part of an Amsterdam row house. Louise’s mother had an emergency basket ready to take with them during air raids.
On May 5, 1945, Canadian forces liberated Amsterdam. Louise was three years old. Louise initially had difficulty adjusting to a world without walls, having never been outside for the duration of the hiding. After the war, the family did not talk about their life in hiding. Shortly thereafter Louise’s father found work in Stockholm, Sweden; Louise, her mother, brother and baby sister joined him during the winter of 1946. The Israels family moved back to the Netherlands in 1948. Louise earned a degree in physical therapy in the Netherlands, and in 1965 she married Sidney Z. Lawrence, an American medical student in Amsterdam. They moved to the US in 1967. After Sidney retired from the U.S. military in 1994, they settled in Bethesda, Maryland. Louise volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.