Nechama Tec, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, will deliver the keynote speech during the Holocaust Memorial Ceremony and Concert in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations on Jan. 27.
Tec has been a Holocaust scholar for years. Her research and publications have concentrated on the intricate relationships between self-preservation, compassion, altruism, rescue, resistance, cooperation and gender. Her books have ventured into overlooked territory, such as the Christian rescue of Jews (When Light Pierced the Darkness), Jewish and Christian identity (In the Lion’s Den), Jewish wartime heroism (Defiance) and, most recently, gender and survival (Resilience and Courage). Her first book was her own memoir (Dry Tears), which explored the ways in which a false identity can become all-consuming.
In 2002, Tec was appointed by then President George Bush to the Council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She also serves on the Academic Advisory Committee at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the museum.
Tec’s book, Defiance, was adapted for the screen in 2008 by writer/director Edward Zwick. The motion picture stars Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell and Liev Schreiber and was released by Paramount Vantage. Two of her other books were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.
The ceremony and concert marks the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the former death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The event will be opened by U.N. Under-Secretary-General Kiyo Akasaka and will include an address by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The remembrance begins Jan. 25. The four-day event includes panel discussions, exhibits and talks, keynoted by Tec, who will be joined by her son, Roland, who co-produced the movie version of Defiance – which will be screened at the U.N. Jan. 28 at 6 p.m. It is the story of the Bielski Partisans, a resistance group that conducted the largest armed rescue of Jews by Jews during World War II.