These meetings are open to the public, but since they are always in the middle of a weekday morning, OFTA is primarily composed of retirees and the occasional under-employed nutcase like me, plus the rarer person who can break from the hustle and bustle of Monmouth business life to come see what's going on in the arts community. Today, though, we had a group of students attending.
After OFTA's master of ceremonies, Jim DeYoung, gave his fifteen minutes of announcements and introductions, Mr. Rehbock began his lecture with what could best be described as a pop quiz on history and math, asking what year marked the beginning of the official Holocaust (1933, when the Nazi party won the elections by a plurality) and what year was its end (1945, Germany surrenders)... you do the math. He discussed the "root causes" -- WWI and the costly reparations, rampant inflation throughout Germany, followed by unemployment, followed by full-on Depression, followed by scapegoating...
Mr. Rehbock and his family were among the fortunate few to make it out right as the concentration camps were first established, and he wanted to stress that he and his family could not have done so without the help of a number of separate individuals who, each independent of others, made each step of the departure from Nazi Germany possible.
He was lively and engaging, offering first the general history, then bringing it around to his own family's experiences, presenting several original documents (passport, certificate of sponsorship signed by an uncle in Chicago, wedding photo, and other such treasured memorabilia) tying each page to a more general issue or event in history by making it clear his family was not the only one to have lived through this, and that it was single, decent, honorable individuals who made it possible.
His positive and inspirational presentation was well-received, tying in well with the current exhibit in the Buchanan Center. He had a few minutes to answer eager questioners
and to continue a few discussions
before being forced to admit he was out of time, he had miles to go before he sleeps (actually, he said he needed to get to Havana, IL).
All in all, the event was a success.