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Names Instead of Numbers: King's hosting exhibit about human cost of Holocaust

Real people sharing personal stories of “brutal repression and violence.”

It’s the way Dr. Robert Ventresca explains a powerful exhibit landing at King’s University College — and, from the looks of it, he’s spot on.

Names Instead of Numbers is a collection of biographies of about 20 people from across Europe who were sent to the Nazis' Dachau concentration camp between 1933 and 1945.

The exhibit, using two-metre-tall fabric banners to display the former prisoners' stories, packs a punch. And, that’s no mistake.

Unveiled about six years ago at a Munich church located on the memorial site of the former concentration camp, Names Instead of Numbers is meant to put a face on the Holocaust — helping people understand the true human cost.

Each of the stories came as part of the Dachau Remembrance Book project. Since 1999, more than 100 biographies have been written by students and others who’ve reached out to Dachau survivors or their relatives.

The project tells stories like that of Karl Horvath — arrested by the Gestapo in Austria during 1941. His daughter recounted his story for the Remembrance Book, sharing the last memory of her father.

“He winked once more and then they drove him away,” Ceija Stojka says. “We never saw him again.”

Horvath died a year later.

Then there’s Pyotr Kudin, who organized an underground Nazi resistance group in the Ukraine — distributing pamphlets and propaganda aimed at youths who were voluntarily going to Germany.

“We had no means for fighting and no experience,” he says in his story. “We had ideas, but nothing else.”

Bringing the exhibit to King’s is part of the school’s ongoing effort to promote “serious study and open discussion of the historical experiences that have shaped our world," said Ventresca, who works in the history department.

“This ultimate concern with the human condition — past, present and future — is at the heart of the ‘humane learning’ to which King’s aspires,” he added.

The exhibit opens Wednesday, Nov. 5 and runs through Nov. 14 in the Spriet Learning Commons at the Darryl J. King Student Life Centre.

A special film screening and roundtable discussion are planned on opening night from 6 to 9 p.m.

A forum on “Rights and Citizenship in War and Peace” is planned for 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 11, with special guest Kerstin Schwenke, a doctoral candidate in modern and contemporary history from the University of Munich in Germany.

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