Holocaust Escape Tunnel -Lecture by Dr. Richard A. Freund

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Venue:Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU

Holocaust Escape Tunnel

Lecture by Dr. Richard A. Freund , University of Hartford

The Holocaust began in Lithuania in July of 1941 when the Nazis started rounding up Jews from Vilnius and began mass shootings in burial pits that had been previously excavated in the nearby Ponar Forest.  As the Soviet army  inched closer to taking Lithuania in 1943 the Nazis gathered 80 Jews to burn the evidence of their murders of 100,000 people. These prisoners knew that they would be the Nazi’s last victims and hatched a plan to construct an escape tunnel from inside the shack where they were living inside of a burial pit. In an act of hope and courage they dug using their hands and spoons for 76 nights. On April 15, 1944, the last night of the holiday of liberation, Passover, they made their escape. 12 escapees survived the war and gave their testimonies to Yad Vashem in Israel. In June, 2016 a team of researchers from the University of Hartford located and rediscovered the tunnel. This discovery was hailed worldwide. And the NOVA film crew was there capturing the discovery in great detail.  When broadcast on PBS/NOVA in April 2017, this program will show how science can shed light today on what happened in the darkest days of the Holocaust, and will bring the once vibrant Jewish world of Vilna back to life.

Dr. Richard A. Freund is the Maurice Greenberg Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. He is the author or co-author of nine books, including "Digging through History; From Atlantis to the Holocaust" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012) and Digging through the Bible (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008). He has directed on behalf of the University of Hartford archaeological projects  in Israel, including; the Cave of Letters, Qumran (site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls), Yavne, Bethsaida, Yavne, Nazareth and Har Karkom and has done projects in Spain, Rhodes, Greece, Poland, and now a series of projects in Lithuania. He is the author or co-author of over 100 scholarly articles and his work has been featured in Archaeology, Biblical Archaeology, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times and in the media worldwide. His work has also been a part of television documentaries made for National Geographic, NOVA, History Channel, Discovery, BBC, and CNN. 

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