College plans Holocaust events

Mesa State College history lecturer Vincent Patarino Jr. cringes at the question, “Why have Holocaust Remembrance Weeks in Grand Junction? Why here?”

“As soon as we ask the question — why here? — you already know the answer,” Patarino said.

It’s only in talking about intolerance that people become aware of it, he said.

The speaker series and film screenings hosted by the college are free, open to the public and continue until April 22. This year, the international observance of Holocaust Awareness Day (Yom HaShoah) is April 21.

A month after Patarino moved to Grand Junction in 2003, someone left racist literature in his driveway. He was disgusted.

The incident left such an impression on him, that he began organizing Holocaust Remembrance Weeks in response.

Holocaust Awareness Weeks aims to promote acceptance of diversity in the community and remembrance of acts of genocide, Patarino said.

This is the sixth and biggest year for the speaker series, he said. There are more presentations than ever before.

In addition to the presentations, the Field of Flags, a display of small flags in the college’s main courtyard, represents the number of people killed in the Holocaust.

Each flag color symbolizes a different group targeted by German Nazis: yellow for Jews, pink for homosexuals, white for the disabled, blue for Soviet Union citizens and the list goes on.

There are seven presentations left in the series including screenings of “Architecture of Doom” about Nazi racial theories and how it relates to the arts, “Darfur Now,” a documentary of firsthand accounts of the atrocities the people of Darfur face, and “Paragraph 175,” about the homosexuals who were imprisoned or sent to concentration camps between 1933 and 1945.

A mixture of Mesa State faculty, staff and speakers living in Colorado will give lectures about subjects varying from survivors to remembrance monuments and counter-monuments.


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