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Volume 24, Number 9 — September 2017

Arts Calendar

Traveling exhibition depicts horrors of Holocaust, resilience of survivors
As the head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute's Department for Human Heredity, Dr. Otmar von Verschuer, a physician and geneticist, examined hundreds of pairs of twins to study whether criminality, feeble-mindedness, tuberculosis, and cancer were inheritable. Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Berlin-Dahlem
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Traveling exhibition depicts horrors of Holocaust, resilience of survivors

Date(s):  August 20 - September 28, 2017
Venue: Carroll Reece Museum
East Tennessee State University
Johnson City, TN 37601

JOHNSON CITY Images and details of the atrocities of the Holocaust are horrifying, to be sure, but visitors to "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race," on display at the Reece Museum at East Tennessee State University, are encouraged to look beyond the horror and ask themselves what can be learned from those who survived.

"Deadly Medicine," a traveling exhibit produced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, will be at ETSU through Sept. 28. It is presented locally by the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, the Reece Museum and the ETSU Academic Health Sciences Center and Interprofessional Education.

It was Dr. Teresa Stephens' ongoing research on resilience that led to the exhibit coming to ETSU. The former ETSU associate professor of nursing studies individuals and populations that have experienced extreme forms of trauma and survived. The aim of her research is to help health care students and professionals, as well as patients and others, learn ways they can be more resilient and better cope with stressful or traumatic situations.

One of the primary populations she works with is Holocaust survivors, many of whom she has contacted with the assistance of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission. THC Executive Director Danielle Kahane-Kaminsky reached out to Stephens last year and offered to bring the "Deadly Medicine" exhibit to East Tennessee if a suitable venue could be found. Stephens found that venue in the Reece Museum.

"The Reece Museum is honored to host "Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race,'" said Randy Sanders, museum director, "and we are grateful to the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and the ETSU Academic Health Sciences Center for making this presentation possible. As the director of an art and history museum on a university campus, I am reminded of Miriam Oster's timely quote, "Education and remembrance are the only cures for hatred and bigotry.'"

"This is more than hosting an exhibit," Stephens said. "It's really an opportunity to showcase this work and lessons to be learned through the Holocaust. There's a lot to learn about leadership, about the dangers in secrets of a society, about human injustices, about ethics in research and appropriate behaviors in medicine the things that can go wrong when things are not kept in check. These were horrible things that were done to people, and we don't ever want to repeat those again.

"But there are also lessons in survival and resilience from the people who came out of that," she continued. "The exhibit includes testimony on video from those who were part of those experiments. What I would like people to take away from this is to listen to their voices and see the incredible strength and capacity of humans to withstand this kind of trauma. What can we take away from that for when we face adversity?"

Stephens says these lessons in resilience can apply to anyone, including health care providers who experience high levels of stress and witness trauma in their work, as well as patients who receive life-changing medical diagnoses.
Stephens also hopes the exhibit will encourage visitors to play a role in preventing atrocities from happening again in the future.

"That's what the survivors want us to do," she said. "Any time I'm working with survivors, they're sharing their stories with the hope that it will prevent future atrocities or that it may help someone. They're hoping, of course, that it isn't repeated, that we don't see this type of horror again, but they also want people to learn from the strength that they found in themselves, for whatever challenges they faced."

From now through Sept. 28, a full schedule of programming has been planned in conjunction with the "Deadly Medicine" exhibit.

Events in August include

"A Child's Story of Survival," a lecture by Holocaust survivor Trudy Dryer, Thursday, Aug. 24, at 11 a.m. at the Reece Museum;

"Holocaust Whispers: Lessons in Resilience,"
a lecture by Stephens, Friday, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m. at the Reece Museum;

"The secret WWII concentration camp diary of Odd Nansen,"
a lecture by Tim Boyce, editor of "From Day to Day: One Man's Diary of Survival in Nazi Concentration Camps," Tuesday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m. in the D.P. Culp University Center's Martha Street Culp Auditorium (followed by a book-signing at 3 p.m.);

"Odd Nansen and the Nazis' deadly medicine,"
a lecture by Boyce, at 9 a.m. at The Museum at Mountain Home on the campus of the Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center; and

"I Gave You Life Twice: A Story of Survival, Dreams, Betrayals and Accomplishments,"
a lecture by Holocaust survivor Henry Fribourg, Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 1 p.m. at the Reece Museum.

The "Deadly Medicine" exhibit and associated events are free and open to the public. Regular museum hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The full schedule of events is available at

Three reserved parking spaces are available directly in front of the museum, located at 363 Stout Drive on the ETSU campus. A special parking permit for these spaces can be obtained at the front desk of the museum upon arrival. Visitor parking passes must be used for parking elsewhere on campus on Monday through Friday until 4:30 p.m.; these may be obtained online at

For more information or to schedule group tours, call the Reece Museum at 423-439-4392. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.

Topics: Art, Exhibits, Lecture

Dr. Teresa "Tese" Stephens

Clandestine photograph taken by a farmer who lived in the vicinity of Hartheim, showing smoke rising from the chimney of the crematorium. Operation T-4 targeted mostly adult patients in private, state, and church-run institutions. Wolfgang Schuhmann (Photo courtesy United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

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