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October 16, 2009

Author and Holocaust Scholar Nechama Tec Will Discuss ‘Defiance as a Book and Film’ Oct. 21

Talk is the inaugural Howard J. Marblestone Memorial Lecture

Award-winning author and Holocaust scholar Nechama Tec will discuss her book Defiance: The Bielski Partisans, which was made into a 2008 movie by director Edward Zwick, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, in Kirby Hall of Civil Rights room 104. The film, starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber, will be screened 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, in room 104. A reception will follow the lecture. Tec, professor emerita of sociology at the University of Connecticut, Stamford, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Lafayette this year.

The talk is the inaugural Howard J. Marblestone Memorial Lecture. Marblestone, who died in January, was the Charles Elliott Professor of Foreign Languages and Literatures. A member of the faculty for more than 30 years, he taught courses in Greek, Latin, biblical Hebrew, and modern Hebrew languages and literatures; classical literature in translation; classical mythology; and the ancient history of Greece, Rome, and Israel. He was the coordinator of the interdisciplinary Classical Civilizations minor.

Sponsoring the talk are the Howard J. Marblestone Lecture Fund, the foreign languages and literatures, government and law, religion, and history departments, the Jewish studies program, Hillel Society, and the Office of the President.

The book and movie follow the Jewish Bielski brothers, who escaped the Nazis to live in the Belarusian forest in Poland, where they joined Russian resistance fighters and built a village to protect themselves and about 1,200 Jewish non-combatants. The book, published by Oxford University Press in 1993, was awarded the International Anne Frank Special Recognition Prize and first prize for Holocaust literature by the World Federation of Fighters, Partisans, and Concentration Camp Inmates.

Tec was born in Lublin, Poland, in 1931. In 1942, during the Nazi occupation of Poland, she left Lublin and went into hiding for three years, living under an assumed Christian identity. With the aid of Catholic Poles, her sister and parents also survived the war. Her third book, Dry Tears: The Story of a Lost Childhood (Oxford University Press, 1984), is an account of her life from 1939-45, and her fourth book, When Light Pierced the Darkness: Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland (Oxford University Press, 1986), examines the phenomenon of Christian Poles who risked their own lives to save the lives of Jews. Both books received the Merit of Distinction Award from the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

Tec immigrated to the United States in 1952. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in sociology at Columbia University in 1954 and 1955, respectively. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1960. In 1963, she completed work on a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia. She has been a faculty member at the University of Connecticut, Stamford, since 1974.

In 2002, Tec was appointed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council by President Bush and serves on the academic advisory committee of the museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. In 1997, she was a senior research fellow at the museum’s Miles Lerman Center for the Study of Jewish Resistance. In 1995, Tec was a scholar-in-residence at the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

Tec’s books have been translated into Dutch, French, Hebrew, German, Italian, and Polish. In The Lion’s Den: The Life of Oswald Rufeisen (Oxford University Press, 1990) received The Christopher Award for affirming the highest values of the human spirit and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Resilience and Courage: Women. Men, and the Holocaust (Yale University Press, 2003) received the National Jewish Book Award and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

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