Florida Capitol Exhibit Shows Students Making History Lessons Come True


Busloads of students got a taste of history on April 20 when the 22nd floor of the Capitol was transformed into an exhibition site for a widely acclaimed project called “Two Regimes”.

With the presentation of “Two Regimes,” which will continue until June 2, many young people in Tallahassee have probably understood better how Russia’s war against Ukraine, with the resulting loss of life and destruction , as well as the tragedy of an earlier era, the Holocaust, resonate so sadly together.

Movie for teachers:Thanks to the grant, ‘Two Regimes’ is now available as a free movie for educators

Summer programs:The Holocaust Education Council offers a summer service program for students

Services for children:Applications open: Board of Children’s Services to fund summer programs. Here’s how to apply now

Four busloads of students from Chiles High School and Swift Creek Middle School and a group of 68 students from Godby got to see, hear and maybe feel the experiences of a mother and daughter who survived two genocides regimes – Stalin’s 1932-33 forced starvation in Ukraine and Hitler’s Holocaust during World War II.

The students watch the "Two diets" exhibition on the 22nd floor of the Florida Capitol on April 22, 2022

With its second grant to the Leon County Schools Foundation, the Legislature, the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council of Arts and Culture sponsor the Two Regimes Project. The expressed goal is to encourage “awareness and dialogue about oppression, repression, prejudice, dictatorships and war and their effects on people in global societies”.

The lesson plans are associated with the exhibition

The nearly 1,200 students who visited the exhibition will have been well prepared. Provided by the Foundation, lesson plans and an eight-minute film directed by filmmaker Doug Darlington will have laid the groundwork for discussions on a topic that is both relevant and sensitive.

Taken from their history books and the evening news, the place names will be familiar to Tallahassee students: Ukraine, Kyiv, Mariupol. And unfortunately, words like “tanks”, “shelling” and “death count” will be too.

The story told by the exhibition is very personal, portrayed in passages from the diary of the Ukrainian mother, Teodora Verbitskaya, and in the paintings of her daughter, the artist Nadia Werbitzky.

Busloads of students came to Media Day at the Florida Capitol to see the "Two diets" exhibition on April 22, 2022.

At the opening on April 20, school superintendent Rocky Hanna spoke, connecting the past to today’s present.

Father Tim Holeda, who is Ukrainian, spoke about tolerance and suggested practical ways for young people to show it. Rabbi Michael Shields gave a historical overview of the arrival of Jews in America and the millennial history of Jews in Ukraine, as well as how to oppose anti-Semitism.

And finally, Debra Brigman sang an original song by Diane Whitney from the musical “Teodora,” based on the “Two Regimes” imagery and Dr. Benjamin Sung, associate professor of strings at FSU and Marcus Pizzaro performed the haunting “Melody”, a Ukrainian Folk Song that left young listeners spellbound.

New HERC investigation reveals alarming misunderstanding of Holocaust

The moment of exposure comes as local PR firm Sachs Media and the Holocaust Education Resource Council released an alarming investigation into the darkest chapter in modern world history that exposed widespread misunderstanding – and even real doubts – among a significant number of Americans.

As Americans observe Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew) on April 28, the survey found that one in 10 Americans believe many historical details about it have been altered or exaggerated , or that the Holocaust is actually a myth.

Beyond what Americans understand or believe about the story, 41% say they have seen Nazi symbols in their communities or online in the past five years.

The HERC survey found that 93% of Americans think it’s important to continue teaching about the Holocaust, and 80% think something as horrific as this could happen again. Despite this commitment to knowledge, the survey also found that 1 in 5 Americans (21%) don’t know the Holocaust happened during World War II and 1 in 4 (25%) can’t. correctly identify the infamous Auschwitz as a concentration. camp.

“The Holocaust decimated almost an entire innocent population, all in the name of promoting a vile philosophy of hate,” said Barbara Goldstein, executive director of HERC. “The next generation is our hope for a better world, and this survey shows that education remains our greatest tool against hate.”

Dedication behind the rescue of art

Over the past 22 years and its dozens of presentations, the story of the genesis of the exhibition “Two Regimes” has been told many times.

The serendipity of finding the treasure of 118 oil paintings and 150 sketches and the deteriorated journal that accompanied them is matched only by the determined mission of two women, Mimi Shaw and Kelly Bowen, to bring the memories to light. forgotten.

Speakers and contributors to the "Two diets" exhibit during Media Day at the Florida Capitol on April 20, 2022. Included L-R: singer Debra Brigman;  Marcos Pizarro, FSU student concert pianist;  Two Regimes art curator and co-owner Kelly Bowen;  executive director of the Leon Eric Clark County Schools Foundation;  FSU Associate Professor of Violin and Strings Dr. Benjamin Sung;  documentary filmmaker Doug Darlington;  Rabbi Michael Shields;  Owner of the Perry Shaw Collection;  and in front, Diane Whitney songwriter "Hunger" and TCC Humanities Instructor Mimi Shaw.

In 2000, Mimi Shaw was taken by an artist friend to an estate sale “in the middle of the North Florida countryside”. There she saw piles of moldy paint piled under plastic under the old clapboard house.

Later, she discovered that there were ruined trunks with newspapers written in a foreign language. Immediately fascinated by vibrant paintings whose creator no one knew, Shaw began a quest to identify and collect as many works as possible. “I used our savings and borrowed from my family to get the works,” she said.

Through a tip from a rural neighbor, she got an address and a name: Nadia Werbitzky, an old woman at the time, living in Baltimore. Shaw says they corresponded for more than a year, then she flew to Maryland where 80-year-old Werbitzky lived in poverty but still painted.

On April 22, the 22nd floor of the Capitol was transformed into an exhibition site for a widely acclaimed project called the "Two Regimes."

Witness to history in the “Two Regimes” exhibition

In the meantime, Shaw had had a newspaper translated into English and with him and Werbitzky’s art, the harrowing image emerged of two women surviving the forced starvation Stalin inflicted on Ukraine in 1932 for his failure to produce enough grain from the recently collectivized Soviet Union. farms.

Nearly 4 million Ukrainians died of starvation or perished in Siberia under Stalin’s punishment.

But of course, that was not all. Not even eight years later, the Nazis invaded the USSR and 7,500 Jews died in Mariupol for three days in 1941. Although Verbitskaya and Werbitzky were Christians, they also spent time in a Nazi detention camp, before going to the United States. .

"Two diets" featuring artwork by Nadia Werbitzky is on display at the Florida Capitol through June 2, 2022.

Elie Wiesel wrote: “The survivors must bear witness for the dead, because to forget them would be to kill them a second time”.

The exhibition “Two Regimes” is a testimony to what history and its actors have to tell us, its tendency to repeat unlearned lessons, and a tribute to all those who resisted aggression and courageously defended the ‘hope.

The exhibit will remain at the Capitol until June 2 and a special free benefit concert will be held April 30 at the Blessed Sacrament Church.

Benefit Concert

What: Music concert to remember, honor and mourn; benefit for Ukrainian health care providers for wounded military and civilians.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday April 30

Or: Church of the Blessed Sacrament, 624 Miccosukee Road

Cost: Free and open to the public

Details: To visit tworegimes.com; live broadcast on bsctlh.com

Holocaust Remembrance Day

What: Yom Hashoah Community Holocaust Remembrance Day with Dr. Dan Leshem, Holocaust Researcher, Director of FSU Hillel, “The Innocents of War: Then and Now”

When: 7 p.m. Thursday April 28

Or: Tallahassee Community College, Workforce Development Building

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