Holocaust Survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan Speaks at UM

Aug. 29 speech at Paris-Yates Chapel is open to the public

Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan, who endured six and a half years in concentration camps during World War II, will speak at the University of Mississippi Aug. 29. Photo courtesy of Marion Blumenthal Lazan.

OXFORD, Miss. – Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan, who endured six-and-a-half years in concentration camps, will bring her story of sheer determination, faith and hope to the University of Mississippi and the local community.

Lazan speaks at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Aug. 29) at Paris-Yates Chapel in an event free and open to the public. She also plans to speak with local public school groups and UM students Aug. 28, 29 and 30. Her story is important for people of all ages to hear, she said.

“Audiences of all ages need to know that one can overcome adversity,” Lazan said. “Sharing my childhood experiences during the Holocaust goes beyond just the story and the facts.

“I always say it’s the lessons learned from that dark period of our history that is so important: 1. To be kind, good and respectful toward one another – that is the basis for peace. 2. Not to blindly follow a leader. 3. Not to generalize and judge an entire group by the actions of some in that group.”

Lazan and her family made it out of refugee, transit and prison camps, including Westerbork in the Netherlands and Bergen-Belsen in Germany, during World War II. Though all the Blumenthals survived more than six years in the camps, Marion’s father, Walter Blumenthal, died of typhus just after liberation.

Marion Blumenthal Lazan, then 7 years old, at Westerbork concentration camp in the Netherlands. Photo courtesy of Marion Lazan Blumenthal.

Her story is told in her critically acclaimed autobiography, “Four Perfect Pebbles,” which will be available for purchase and signing during her visit. Besides being an author, Lazan regularly speaks to school groups and religious groups of all denominations and faiths throughout the United States, Germany and Israel. She previously spoke at Ole Miss twice in 2005. 

The UM Hillel and the Jewish Federation of Oxford worked to bring Lazan to campus and are co-sponsoring the events.

The two groups are proud to host Lazan, particularly given recent events, said Richard Gershon, UM professor of law and spokesman for the Jewish Federation of Oxford.

“Ms. Lazan’s message is especially important after the events in Charlottesville earlier this month,” Gershon said. “As one of the last survivors of the Holocaust, she experienced, firsthand, the evil that can occur when hatred becomes the guiding principle of a society.”