Reflections on the Holocaust – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Reflections on the Holocaust

Geneva, NY — During the season laden with bone-chilling fictional stories of dark creatures and evil deeds, Hobart and William Smith Colleges have scheduled a speaker who will retell a story, not only very dark and evil, but dauntingly true.

Robert A. Warren, a 1961 graduate of Hobart College and a national lecturer and teacher on the Holocaust, will present a speech titled “Through a Mirror Darkly: Reflections on the Holocaust,” at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 28, in the Albright Auditorium. The presentation is open to the public.

Warren’s discussion will share the history of the horrific past and current lives of Holocaust survivors. The program has been scheduled in conjunction with the Hobart Heritage Series and the HWS campus guest lecture series, which both work to bring alumni back to campus to share their expertise with students.

Much of Warren’s speech, a gruesome account of history, came from his friend, Charlotte Guthmann Opfermann, a Jewish-German Holocaust survivor, who was confined to a concentration camp, Theresienstadt, from June 10, 1943 until May 8, 1945. Together the two have worked on a book for more than three years. Warren, of Santa Fe, New Mexico, has been an attorney for the past 23 years with many of those years in a private practice with a Wall Street firm. His Holocaust research has been an intensive project outside his professional work. He has taught classes on the Holocaust as an adjunct professor at St. John’s University in Queens, The College of Santa Fe, and the New Mexico School for the Deaf in Santa Fe. He says he feels compelled to share the tragedy, which is far from over.

“I believe, indeed I know, that the Holocaust continues to devour its victims. It will persist in doing so until the last survivor is dead. And beyond? I don’t know, but it seems to me that as an event it has so damaged the fabric of western civilization that its influence will continue to corrupt down through the ages,” he says.

Warren believes the Holocaust is still relevant today. “Once the decision was made to eliminate an entire people solely because of who, not what, they were, that very process of decision-making altered morality…Today’s ethnic cleansing is certainly easier and more efficient than it would have been without its Holocaust legacy.”

Michael N. Dobkowski, a professor of religious studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and an expert in the Holocaust and genocide issues, believes it’s critical for Warren to share his specialization with students and the campus community.

“In an age that has seen the Holocaust trivialized, marginalized, even denied, Robert Warren brings a brutal honesty and insightful intelligence to this issue,” Dobkowski says. “He doesn’t exploit the violence; he doesn’t sensationalize. And he doesn’t offer slick comfort either. He tries to find a forum to give voice to the unspeakable. Thinking about the Holocaust is disturbing. There is no happy ending. Yet, it must be confronted.”