A survivor speaks

Holocaust survivor, speaker and author Oskar Knoblauch speaks at the 2016 Genocide Awareness Week at Scottsdale Community College. On April 14, he will speak about “The Importance of Respect in Our Society.”

Since 2013, Scottsdale Community College (SCC) has hosted Genocide Awareness Week, a time when thousands gather for lectures, exhibits and events where genocide survivors, scholars, politicians, activists, artists, humanitarians and law-enforcement officials share their knowledge about genocides that have occurred across the globe. This year’s Genocide Awareness Week takes place on April 17-22 with ongoing events that are free and open to the community.

“Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the U.S., and it holds the largest conference on genocide in the nation at a community college,” said John Liffiton, co-founder of Genocide Awareness Week and SCC professor. “SCC has been ranked fourth-best in the nation for community colleges. [Genocide Awareness Week] is important as it validates those populations whose history has been unwittingly filled with violence; the American Indians, the Armenians, the Jews, and the Rwandans to name a few. It honors those who were murdered and, at the same time, makes their senseless deaths into something that can help mankind.”

There is a new variety of speakers and topics ranging from the Holocaust to the Armenian Genocide, from the Righteous to the 1936 Olympics, from the genocide of Native Americans to contemporary hate crimes in the U.S., Liffiton said.

There are two exhibits, including the premiere exhibit from the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris titled “Genocides of the 20th Century,” which was designed and built from the exhibit in Paris for this conference.

SCC is partnering with the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors’ Association and Generations After to make April 20 a special Holocaust Remembrance Day with an entire day of speakers focusing on the Holocaust. Speakers include author Marty Brounstein; Dr. Daniel Kadden, executive director of Interfaith Works; and survivor Walter Lamm. A new topic this year will be the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

On opening day, Monday, April 17, Holocaust survivor Oskar Knoblauch will share his story at 10:30 a.m.

“It’s conferences like this that educate and make the entire community aware of what happened in the past and what is happening today so that people can do something to improve human rights and stop genocides,” Liffiton said.

Genocide Awareness Week events begin at 9 a.m. each day and go throughout the day. There are 6:30 p.m. lectures each evening. Liffiton noted that, in addition to events open to the community, there is also a free workshop on April 22 for educators being taught by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“Since 2013, Genocide Awareness Week has been held every April and attendance has increased to where now there are around 2,500 attending the lectures; and there are attendees from all over North America and people are coming from overseas now,” Liffiton said.

To learn more about specific events and exhibits during Genocide Awareness Week, visit scottsdalecc.edu/genocide.

Michelle Talsma Everson is a local freelance writer.


What: Genocide Awareness Week

Who: Scottsdale Community College

When: April 17-22; daily, starting at 9 a.m. and evening presentations starting at 6:30 p.m.  

Where: Turquoise Room, Scottsdale Community College, 9000 E. Chaparral Road

Cost: Free and open to the public

Visit: A full schedule is available at  scottsdalecc.edu/genocide.

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