Cincinnati, Ohio - Since September 4, 2003 The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education has welcomed over a thousand students, educators, community groups and the public to the interactive theater, Mapping Our Tears. This permanent environmental theater 'maps' the stories of Holocaust refugees, survivors, liberators, and rescuers; following their footsteps between Nazi Europe to their homes in the greater Cincinnati area. In conjunction with Veterans' Day on November 11, the Center is now honored to recognize the courageous soldiers and chaplains in uniform who confronted evil face to face as they liberated the concentration camps. Proudly sponsored by The Farmer Family Foundation and Cintas, The Men in Uniform, will introduce the testimonies, photos and memorabilia of the Sons of Cincinnati and the surrounding region, as they bravely fought against tyranny for freedom, justice and humanity during WWII. Among the liberator testimonies is Captain Milton Schloss, who will be 90 years old this Saturday, November 15th.
In 1941, Milton Schloss was 28 years old, had a business considered necessary for the war effort and was preparing with his wife for their first child. Instead, shortly following the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Schloss enlisted in the U S Army. Friends called him 'stupid' for voluntarily joining the armed services. But as an American and as a Jew Schloss knew that it was his duty and responsibility to fight Nazism and Hitler.
Schloss describes his military service as "the most defining experience of my life- it changed me and made me." He was a U.S. Intelligence officer in the Air Force, flying dangerous missions while earning the Bronze Star, six battle stars, and a citation from the French People. His most unforgettable memory was walking into the Ohrdruf concentration camp. Despite Captain Schloss's many war experiences, nothing could prepare him and his men for the inhumanity he saw in the camps. He had heard of the antisemitism and the cruelty, but knew nothing of the murderous camps. The moment he walked into the camp he realized the significance of joining the army. Not only was he fighting for human rights, but it also had a profound impact on him. "There were just a few walking 'ghosts' who kissed our hands and boots. All my life, I carry the images of the pits of hundreds, thousands of dead corpses, and know the potential for real evil to triumph, when the world looks away."
This Veterans' Day marks over 61 years since he proudly volunteered to join the ranks of the U.S. Army to fight against Nazi Germany. Schloss understands the value of sharing his story with the rest of the world. Just as he was committed to fighting the evils of Nazis and Hitler, he is committed to sharing his eyewitness testimony to educate future generations so that atrocities like this will never happen again.
Corporal Gus Gurska, a youngster at age 79, gave his testimony to the Center this week. Gurska was only 20 years old when his unit "discovered" the Nordhausen Concentration Camp. "We were full of disbelief and horror. None of us slept hat night, and these tough guys were crying and shaking." Gurska , whose ethnic background is German-Catholic, is fierce when he condems the Nazi atrocities done to Jews, and of the liars who tried to deny it then and now. Both Schloss and Gurska will have their testimonies filmed later this month by the Holocaust Center at CET PBS studios downtown. Neither man was ever recorded before on video, though as eyewitnesses their testimonies, and their insights are invaluable. Each man echoed General (later President) Eisenhower's words after surveying the concentration camps, "We may not be able to express the exact words what we are fighting for- but we sure as hell know what we are fighting against. "
As our veterans, survivors and refugees are getting older, it is important to collect their stories for future generations. The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education is currently seeking WWII veterans and liberators. Those interesting in sharing their testimonies, artifacts, and speaking with community groups for Mapping Our Tears, should contact the Center at 513.221.1875 ext 355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mapping Our Tears: The Men in Uniform is proudly sponsored by The Farmer Family Foundation and Cintas. For more information about The Farmer Family Foundation and Cintas, contact Karen Hoeb, Director of Farmer Family Foundation, at 513.573.3996.
To view current stories of survivors, rescuers, and refugees in Mapping Our Tears visit Monday through Thursday 11-4pm and Sundays 12-5. Group hours and tours specifically tailored are available upon request. Contact the Center for more information.
The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education is an educational and community resource center located on the Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR. It offers workshops, professional training seminars, graduate courses, and development of original curriculum. Teaching Holocaust Studies from academic and theological perspectives, the Center promotes tolerance and social justice in a road range of civic and cultural concerns.