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April 26, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

Holocaust Remembrance features survivor's story

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Robert Melson, will deliver his first-hand account of living through the Holocaust in a lecture titled "Hiding in Plain Sight: A Jewish Family Survives the Holocaust" when he headlines Slippery Rock University's annual Holocaust Remembrance Program May 2.

The free, 4 p.m. lecture will be in the Smith Student Center. Melson lectured at SRU's 2001 program.

As a very young child living in Poland with his parents, life was mostly uneventful. But Melson later learned his family had secured false papers, which helped them pass as Polish Catholics during the height of World War II and the Holocaust.

Melson detailed his family's survival story in his book "False Papers: Deception and Survival in the Holocaust," published by the University of Illinois Press. The book was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in 2001.

His primary area of expertise is in ethnic conflict and genocide and he conducted fieldwork in Nigeria before the onset of the Nigerian-Biafran civil war.

A professor emeritus of political science and a member of the Jewish studies program at Purdue University, Melson formerly served as president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. In 2006 and 2007, he was the Cathy Cohen-Lasry Distinguished Professor in the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University.

Among his other books are "Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust" and "Nigeria: Modernization and the Politics of Communalism,"

"His, like many Holocaust survivors, has a compelling and riveting story," said Richard Martin, SRU professor of political science. Martin has organized the Holocaust Remembrance Program for the past 19 years. "His family's life is both poignant and telling in how it shows the details of a Jewish family surviving outside of the camps and ghettoes during the Holocaust. I think students, and others, on campus will find the story very dramatic and memorable."

"His parents showed great courage, fortitude and a natural acting ability that, notwithstanding many close calls with exposure, enabled them to survive the fate of most Polish Jews, including many of their closest relatives. I hope as many as possible can attend," Martin said.

SRU's College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts and the political science department are co-sponsoring the lecture.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.