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News Release

Date: December 6, 2005
Media Contact: Elizabeth Homan (Montgomery College), 301-251-7970; Karen Gallagher (Maryland Humanities Council), 410-685-4183

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“Portraits of Life” on Exhibit at the Maryland Humanities Council
Photography Exhibit of Holocaust Survivors to Run Dec. 7, 2005—April 13, 2006

PHOTO EDITORS: For high-resolution images to accompany this release, click on these links: MaxHeppner.jpg, ReginaandSamuelSpiegel.jpg, EdithLowy.jpg, evablumberg.jpg.

The Maryland Humanities Council will host “Portraits of Life: Holocaust Survivors of Montgomery County,” Montgomery College’s photography exhibit exploring the human experience of survival and hope, at the Council’s new headquarters at 108 West Centre Street in the Mount Vernon Cultural district from December 7, 2005 through April 13, 2006.

The exhibit, supported by the Council’s Dr. Hiltgunt Margret Zassenhaus Memorial Fund and on loan from the Paul Peck Humanities Institute at Montgomery College, combines survivors’ stories with black and white portrait panels. The result, said Jane Knaus, the exhibit’s creative designer from Montgomery College, is an exhibit that “focuses on survivors of a catastrophic event who have made productive lives for themselves by turning evil into living testimonials of affirmation.”

Montgomery College’s Director of the Paul Peck Humanities Institute, Judith Gaines, conceived of the exhibit and collaborated with Montgomery College Professors Jon Goell and Brian Jones, who served as its project leaders and chief photographers.

“While we remember those who died in the Holocaust, we also celebrate the lives of those who survived,” remarked Gaines. “They are your neighbors—fellow community members. You pass them in the grocery store or at the post office—never would you imagine the unspeakable horror they endured.”

“Portraits of Life” first premiered at Montgomery College’s 2005 Holocaust Commemoration on April 21. The exhibit’s venue at the Maryland Humanities Council’s new headquarters will be its first showing outside Montgomery County.  “We are delighted to host the “Portraits of Life” exhibit—an inspiring humanities tribute to these brave men and women from Montgomery County—whose meaningful stories can now be shared with others across the state,” said Peggy Burke, the Council’s Executive Director.

A special reception for “Portraits of Life” will be held on Thursday, December 7, from 2:00—4:00 p.m. at the Council’s offices at 108 West Centre Street, Baltimore.   Nesse Godin, one of the survivors depicted in the exhibit, will speak at the reception.  Born in Shauliai, Lithuania, Godin was just 13 years old when the Germans occupied her hometown.  Two months later, she was forced into the ghetto with her family.  By 1944, Godin was taken to the Stutthof concentration camp and eventually sent to four labor camps.  She survived those and a death march before being liberated by the Soviet Army.

Godin moved to the United States after five years in a displaced persons camp in Germany. Godin says, “My husband and I raised three wonderful children and dedicated our lives to teach what hatred can do.  I took my pain and suffering and anger and chose to teach what happened during the Holocaust. I hope that my sharing memories will teach everyone to make a better world for all the people of the world.”

Currently Godin is co-president of the Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Friends of Greater Washington.  She serves on the Board of the Jewish Community Council and the United Jewish Appeal Federation.  For her service to the community and sharing her personal story of the Holocaust, Godin has received many awards and honors, such as the Elie Wiesel Holocaust Remembrance Medal and the “Unsung Heroine” honor from the Maryland Commission on Women.

“Portraits of Life” will be open to the public on Thursday afternoons from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. through April 13, 2006.  In addition, special group tours of the exhibit, led by local Holocaust survivors, can be arranged by contacting Council Program Officer Jean Wortman at 410-685-4187.  The Council will also offer a series of public programs related to the exhibition. For more information, please visit the Council’s website at

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