October 31, 2002
Thomas "Toivi" Blatt overpowered concentration camp guards during a mass escape by several hundred prisoners. Nechama Tec evaded Nazi detection by leading a double life, passing for three years as the daughter of Catholic Poles.
Assuming a Christian identity saved Tec, but the experience left her with the bitter feeling that she had betrayed herself and her fellow Jews. Now a University of Connecticut sociology professor, Tec has written several books that explore the mix of motivations in rescuers and resisters of the Holocaust.
Thomas Toivi Blatt, now 84, will recount his teenage experience witnessing and fleeing the Polish death camp Sobibor. Blatt, who has also written about his account, is hoping to establish an organization to maintain the site, which is not marked, said Dr. Marilyn Harran, director of Chapman University's Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education.
"This was the end," Blatt said last summer in Poland, showing Harran the white barricade where the railroad tracks ran out, the last place he saw his parents and brother. Human bone fragments were still visible, she said.
Tec will speak on "Resisting Oppression: Rescuers of the Holocaust" at Chapman University as part of the Holocaust lecture series, at 7 p.m., Nov. 5. Blatt will speak on "From Ashes of Sobibor" at 7 p.m., Nov. 14. Free. For more information, call (714) 628-7377.