Anne Frank and Conrad Weiner: Two stories of the Holocaust, One Survivor

Anne Frank: A History for Today

© AFF Basel / AFS Amsterdam

© AFF Basel / AFS Amsterdam

This month, we take a step back in time to remember the Holocaust. With a firsthand testimony and a traveling exhibit, we offer you a chance to connect with history on a more personal level. The thirty panels of the traveling exhibit, Anne Frank: A History for Today* will be on display at the Main Library, 1786 Burlington Pike in Burlington, April 4-30.    

The story of Anne Frank and her family is the centerpiece of this beautifully conceived exhibition. The family’s story is juxtaposed against the broader history of the time period, documenting Hitler’s rise to power, World War II, and the Holocaust. The exhibit leads visitors from Anne’s early years grdagboekpaginina 001 lrowing up in Germany, to her immigration to the Netherlands, through her time  in hiding, to the eventual betrayal and arrest of her family. Anne’s own writing provides a central voice to the narrative, sharing her candid moments of humor, affection, fear and hope for the future.

Conrad Weiner: A Survivor’s Story

During the Holocaust, six million people lost their lives. Even though it happened over 70 years ago, it still impacts the people who lived through it and those who are touched by the messages shared by survivors. We are honored to announce that the Main Library, 1786 Burlington Pike in Burlington, will once again host Conrad Weiner to talk about his experience as a small child in a labor camp. In the last three years during April, we have brought three different Holocaust survivors into the Library to tell their stories (Conrad was the speaker two years ago). Conrad’s story is one you won’t soon forget.

Conrad Weiner was born in a small town in Bucovina, once part of Romania, in 1938.
After a brief occupation of the region by the Soviet Army in 1941, Romanian authorities in alliance with German forces started a massive campaign of annihilation and deportation of Jews to Transnistria. They were taken by cattle car and then forced to walk for two weeks in snow and mud to the labor camp, Budi. Conrad was 3 1/2 years old at the time. In 1944, at the age of 6 1/2, Conrad and the 300 surviving prisoners at Budi were liberated by the advancing Soviet Army and repatriated to Romania.

Eventually, Conrad’s family immigrated to the United States. Conrad was drafted into the U.S. Army, and in 1963 he settled in Cincinnati. Conrad is now retired and keeps busy substitute teaching in local schools, playing golf, reading, taking photographs and more recently, speaking to local schools and organizations about his Holocaust experience. He is married to his wife of over 45 years and is both a proud father and grandfather.

Conrad is committed to educating the community about the Holocaust, his expconrad headshoterience
and the lessons, despite the difficulty of sometimes recounting it. “It must be done to keep our promise, ‘Never Again,’” he states. “We must learn from history in order to not repeat it. We see many examples of intolerance every day. It is unfortunate that today, in the 21st century, we still have wars, ethnic cleansing, poverty and hunger. Education and dialogue are key elements in sharing the world in peace and harmony. I believe that adversity, if it does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

Due to the overwhelming popularity of his story, Mr. Weiner has kindly agreed to share his experiences on two different dates at the Main Library, 1786 Burlington Pike in Burlington: Wednesday, April 6 at 7 p.m. and again on Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. Please choose one or the other to attend.

*Anne Frank: A History for Today was developed by the Anne Frank House and is sponsored in North America by The Anne Frank Center USA.

8 Tips for Starting Your Own Book Club

Are you an avid reader? When you finish a good book, do you close it with a sigh and
wish you had a group of fellow book-lovers with whom to discuss it? If a book leaves you scratching your head, do you long to talk it over with someone in order to gain some new insight? Then starting a book club might be for you!

I tossed around the idea of starting my own book club for several years. I worked at Brentano’s Bookstore when Oprah’s Book Club was in its heyday, and I remember the great anticipation surrounding the announcement of each new book club pick, and the enthusiasm with which customers would come in to purchase Oprah’s latest title. I loved the idea of so many people having a shared experience through what they were reading.

When I decided to start my own book club, I was pleased to find a wealth of resources both at the library and online. It’s been ten years since our first meeting, and we are still going strong. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way that might help you in starting your own book club.

  1. Figure out your goals for your book club.
    Do you want to expand your reading repertoire or stick to your favorite genre? Do you want the atmosphere of the group to be lighthearted and social, or more scholarly and academic? Once you establish your goals, you can start recruiting like-minded people who have the same vision.
  2. Recruit fellow booklovers.
    It’s good to start with a small group of friends. You could then ask each of them to invite one or two others. This is a great way to meet new people and to help ensure that a variety of tastes and viewpoints will be represented. About 8 – 12 members is optimal for a book club. A group larger than this can make it difficult for everyone to have a chance to participate in the discussion.
  3. Decide on a theme for your group.
    Once you have recruited members, you can decide on a theme. Do you want to focus on a particular genre, such as science fiction or mysteries? You can also choose to change the theme periodically. For example, you can spend a year reading books that are set in a particular time period or location.
  4. Work out the logistics.
    Now it’s time to iron out the details. The first question is how frequently your group will meet. Once a month is the standard for most book clubs. You will then need to decide on a meeting time. It’s good to set a specific day – such as the last Tuesday of the month – and stick to it. This makes is easier for your group members to plan ahead.Next is your choice of venue. Many groups rotate meeting in the members’ homes. Other groups meet in public places such as bookstores, cafes, or libraries. The size of the group is something to consider when deciding on a place to meet. If your group will be meeting in a restaurant, it’s fun to pick a place that corresponds to the theme or setting of the book you’ll be discussing. When my book club discussed Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors, a historical fiction novel about the building of the Taj Mahal, we met in an Indian restaurant. This still stands out in my mind as one of our most memorable meetings.
  5. Decide on your guidelines and method for selecting books.
    Before the fun task of selecting books, your group should come to a consensus on the guidelines. For example, do you want to make sure that the titles are available in paperback? If your group members will be checking out the books from the library, you’ll want to make sure that the library has enough copies readily available. This might mean waiting a while to read the current popular titles.
    For your first meeting, ask your group members to each bring two or three suggestions of titles. In selecting our reading list, my group has employed a few different methods. One is a democratic method where group members vote on different titles. We’ve also gone completely random, where everyone writes down titles on slips of paper and then we pull them out of a hat.Need help coming up with reading suggestions? Reviews on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com are great places to get ideas. Also, BCPL has a selection of book kits available. Each kit contains about 12 copies of the book as well as a binder full of helpful information such as discussion questions, biographical info on the author, and other background information on the book. Book kits can be reserved by visiting this site http://www.eventkeeper.com/kitkeeper/index.cfm?curOrg=boone.
  6. Prepare for your discussion.
    As you read, note passages in the book that stood out to you. Also, keep track of any questions or observations that you have as you read, so you can bring them up during your meeting. Doing a little research and finding some biographical information about the author can also enhance your discussion.Many current titles are now published with discussion questions for book clubs. There are also many resources online where you can find discussion questions. A couple of great resources are http://www.readinggroupguides.com/ and http://www.litlovers.com/. You could also ask your members to come to the meeting with two or three discussion questions.
  7. Set up an easy way for your group to stay in touch.
    To keep your group connected between meetings, you’ll want to set up an easy way for your members to communicate. For my group, I set up a private Facebook page. I use our Facebook page to send out invitations and reminders about our meetings, as well as anything else that might be of interest to the group. Also, an updated contact list with email addresses and phone numbers is indispensable.
  8. Keep a record of the books your group has read.
    Along with a list of the books your group has read, you can include notes about where you met, who was there, how the group felt about the books, etc. This list will also be helpful for new members so that they know what the group has read in the past.

If you’ve been thinking about a book club for a while, there’s no time like the present to get started! It’s a great way to expand your horizons, build new friendships, and create some fun memories in the process!

Some book club resources from BCPL’s collection to help you get started:

The Book Club Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Book Club Experience by Diana Loevy

Read It and Eat: A Month-by-Month Guide to Scintillating Book Club Selections and Mouthwatering Menus by Sarah Gardner

The Book Club Cookbook: Recipes and Food for Thought from you Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman

Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl

Other Good Reads about Book Clubs:

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee

The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

–Alisa

Alisa Snow has been with BCPL for seven years. In addition to leading her book club, she enjoys drinking coffee on her balcony with her cat, eating Indian food, and going to as many concerts as possible.