By Steve Ranson
Special to the Tribune
Holocaust survivor Mitka Kalinski has a story to tell. Whether it’s in Elko speaking to a group of middle-school students or to an audience of different ages and experiences, he shares a life of survival during World War II as a young Jewish boy in Eastern Europe.
The Day of Remembrance on Thursday presents The Holocaust and the Rise of Antisemitism in the 21st Century at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno.
Two years ago, a program focused on both those who were affected by the atrocities committed by the Germans and the soldiers and airmen who liberated them.
Judith Schurmer, chairperson of the Nevada Governor’s Advisory Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust, said the program comes at a time when antisemitism is on the rise in the United States. She referred to the when a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October, leaving 11 dead, and also at the University of Nevada, Reno, when a vandal sprayed Nazi symbols on a residence hall’s wall.
Kalinski, who has lived in Sparks for more than 50 years, was an orphan living at a Ukrainian boarding school as an orphan. He was eventually sent to Germany and spent time at several concentration camps. Afterward, Kalinski was a household slave on a German officer’s farm until he was liberated after the war by General George Patton’s Third Army. Making his way to New York City through the Displaced Persons Act, Kalinski eventually arrived in western Nevada for year-round construction work.
Schurmer said Jordan Roper of Idaho Falls, Idaho, composed music entitled “My Name is Mitka” and first performed the selection two years ago with the Reno Philharmonic. Roper will be in attendance Thursday as will Reno musician Van Vinkow, who will perform “My Name is Mitka” on the violin. In addition to hearing more about Kalinski’s life, those attending the two-hour event will learn of the current rise of antisemitism from Dr. Dennis Dworkin, professor and chair of UNR’s Department of History.
Schurmer said doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the program beginning at 7 p.m. The event is free to the public, but she said attendees should RSVP at https://tinyurl.com/y6zk497h. More than 600 people attended the 2017 presentation.
The Nevada Governor’s Advisory Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust, said Schurmer, provides instruction to teachers about the Holocaust and also provide program to students so they can learn more about a dark period in world history.