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'Holocaust by Bullets' exhibit coming to ASU

Exhibit highlights the research needed to identify and document the murders of more than 2 million Jews and Roma in former Soviet Union

Two people are moving one of the exhibit pieces

Two people install the "Holocaust by Bullets" exhibit in the Hayden Library, which opens Feb. 27.

February 22, 2022

On Feb. 27, the communitywide education program and exhibit "Holocaust by Bullets" will open on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. 

"Holocaust by Bullets" is a program of Yahad-In Unum, a nongovernmental organization based in Paris and founded by Father Patrick Desbois, a Catholic priest and president of Yahad-In Unum. The exhibit highlights the difficult research needed to identify and document the murders of more than 2 million Jews and Roma in the former Soviet Union. It looks at 2,700 execution sites across 11 countries that were made by Nazi killing units. 

The Phoenix Holocaust Association (PHA) sponsored bringing the exhibit to the ASU campus and worked with the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies (SHPRS) to make it a reality. This exhibit is part of a series of programming for the 10th annual Genocide Awareness Week in April, which is hosted by SHPRS in collaboration with multiple units at ASU, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. 

“At the core of the PHA program is the exhibit at ASU that provides visitors to the ASU Library the opportunity to learn about the organized murder of Jews in broad daylight through photographs and quotes from eyewitnesses,” said Sheryl Bronkesh, president of PHA.

This will be the first time the exhibit has opened since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020. Assistant Professor of history Volker Benkert led the charge in organizing the exhibit’s arrival.

“Auschwitz-Birkenau is the widely recognized symbol of the Holocaust representing the systematic and industrialized murder of Jews, Roma and many others by Nazi Germany,” Benkert said. “Yet, Father Desbois' work draws attention to the ‘Holocaust by Bullets,’ the murders committed by SS and other units all over Eastern Europe that ran in parallel to the planned murder through starvation and labor in ghettos and camps and the killing centers such as Auschwitz.”

The exhibit will launch on Feb. 27 at 3 p.m. in Hayden Library. This kickoff event will feature keynote speaker Rachael Cerrotti, an award-winning author, photographer, educator, audio producer and inaugural storyteller-in-residence for the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation.

Cerrotti launched a narrative podcast called “We Share the Same Sky” in 2019 where she shares the story of her journey to retrace her grandmother’s Holocaust survival story over a decade. In 2021, Cerrotti published a memoir of the same title. 

“I’ve been very aware of Father Desbois and all of his work, and it’s incredible,” Cerrotti said. “To be asked to take some time and think about how the work he’s doing connects with the work that I’ve been doing, it’s been an exercise for me to pay attention to different things, to be encouraged to make connections that no one’s asked me to make before and I really appreciate the opportunity.”

"Holocaust by Bullets" will be open through April 17 in the Hayden Library. Members of the ASU community can access the exhibit at any time during library hours. Non-ASU community members may access the exhibit during docent-led tours on Sundays from 1-3 p.m. and Mondays from 5-7 p.m.

Those wishing to attend Cerrotti’s talk can register to join in person or online.

Other programming associated with Genocide Awareness Week includes a Holocaust Educators Conference on Feb. 28 in conjunction with the Bureau of Jewish Education, and on April 4 a concert by the Phoenix Boys Choir preceding Father Desbois’ keynote speech and a Rural Street Klezmer Band concert.

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