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Drake series to explore Nazi propaganda from Holocaust

February 18, 2009
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Historian Ann Millin, right, with the Drake group that visited the U.S. Holocaust Museum in January.

CONTACT: Aimee Beckmann-Collier, 515-271-2841, aimee.beckmann-collier@drake.edu

Drake University will host Ann Millin, historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., for a presentation on Nazi propaganda on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will start at 5:15 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium in Old Main, 2507 University Ave. The lecture is part of a series of events on the Holocaust and related topics that will culminate with a performance of a Holocaust memorial oratorio -- "To Be Certain of the Dawn" -- by Drake musicians later this spring.

Millin's talk is titled "State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda" and will include content from the exhibit of the same name that opened in late January at the museum.

At base, the Nazis' sophisticated use of propaganda made the Holocaust possible. Millin's presentation may help answer often-repeated questions such as:

  • How were the Nazis able to create a situation in which The Final Solution was possible?
  • How was it possible that so many people stood by without intervening to stop the Holocaust?

Janet Keefer, Drake associate professor of journalism, served as a consultant to the museum in the preparation of the $3.2 million exhibition, which recently received a glowing review in the Washington Post. Read the story online

Millin's visit to Drake stems from contacts she made when a group from Drake traveled to Washington, D.C., in January and toured the museum as part of the preparations for performing the Holocaust memorial oratorio. The group consisted of Drake Professor of Conducting Aimee Beckmann-Collier, three representatives of the choral program and Mark Finkelstein, director of community relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, which sponsored the trip.

While at Drake, Millin will speak to Drake journalism students, as well as students at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny and the Des Moines campuses.

She is the special assistant to the director of the Leadership Programs and historian in the Holocaust Museum's National Institute for Holocaust Education. She also worked in the museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, was program coordinator of the Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance and worked as a historian in the photo archives.  

Millin received a B.A. in speech and theatre from Macalester College, an M.A. in religious studies from Vanderbilt University and a Ph.D. in Jewish history at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She has been a research fellow at the University of Göttingen and an inter-university fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has taught at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Kentucky at Lexington.

Drake's Holocaust series will continue with the following public events, which are free unless otherwise indicated:

  • Tuesday, March 3 -- Peter Pintus, Des Moines resident and Holocaust survivor, will speak of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp and his perspective 60 years later, 5:15-6:15 p.m., Sheslow Auditorium, Old Main, 2507 University Ave.
  • Friday, April 17 -- Michael Dennis Browne, the Morse-alumni distinguished teaching professor of English at the University of Minnesota, renowned poet and librettist of "To Be Certain of the Dawn," will speak about his experiences in interfaith dialogue during the six years in which he and Stephen Paulus worked on the oratorio, as well as what he has learned since the premiere of the piece. His presentation, titled "A Different Kind of Belonging: Listening to the Voices of Interfaith," and will begin at noon at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Student Center, 1150 28th St.
  • Sunday, April 19 -- Michael Dennis Browne, librettist, and Stephen Paulus, composer of "To Be Certain of the Dawn," will discuss the work in a pre-concert talk, "A Different Kind of Belonging: Listening to the Voices of Interfaith," 2 p.m., East Lobby of the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, 221 Walnut St.
  • Sunday, April 19 -- Performance of "To Be Certain of the Dawn" by four Drake choruses, a faculty/student orchestra, members of the Heartland Youth Chorus and soloists, 3 p.m., Civic Center of Greater Des Moines. Tickets, available at the Drake Fine Arts and Civic Center box offices, are $15 for adults, $7 for students.

For more information on the series, contact Beckmann-Collier at 515-271-2841 or aimee.beckmann-collier@drake.edu.