Library hosts Plotkin Holocaust Collection

Emmy Hardy, Copy Desk Chief

Three green bookshelves sit directly behind the stairs on the first floor of the Learning Commons at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus. On these shelves are a set of books, each marked with a Star of David symbol. This is the Diane M. Plotkin Holocaust Collection.

The collection has been at Brookhaven since 1994, when former English faculty member Diane Plotkin unveiled the display. Since then, the collection has changed its location in the Commons over the years. “It used to be on the second floor, but it was moved downstairs,” Toby Baldwin, a librarian at the Learning Commons, said.

Plotkin, as well as her husband, possessed a particular interest in the topic of genocide and shared a passion for spreading awareness of the tragedy. Having known Holocaust survivors herself, some in her own family, Plotkin felt the need to educate students at Brookhaven Campus on the historical event.

To the side of the shelves stands a sculpture depicting two hands outstretched toward each other, one with a concentration camp identification number on the wrist. Barbed wire fencing looms behind the hands, while a miniature train track is placed in front of them, leading into a tunnel from which the shadow of a Holocaust transport train emerges. Above the tunnel, a plaque reads, “Ignorance of these events can only fuel the threat of similar atrocities.” The quote is attributed to a former student of Plotkin’s.

The plaque is not the only contribution to the collection by a former student.

Down the hall to the left of the collection, eight canvases hang on the long outer brick wall inside the Commons. A plaque hangs next to the art, with the title, “Lest we forget.”

The paintings were done by Kemberly Dvornik, another former student of Plotkin’s. Dvornik visited Brookhaven on Jan. 21 with her family and friends. When Dvornik was in the art program at Brookhaven Campus, her portraits were selected to be displayed in the Commons as part of the collection.

Dvornik died on Jan. 25. “She was very proud of the fact that her eight canvases were still here,” Olga Henson-Murr, a librarian in the Commons said. “My heart goes out to Kem’s family and friends. I am so glad she was able to see the paintings before she passed away.”

Plotkin’s goal with the collection was to educate students about the Holocaust and make sure people were aware of the history behind it. In her time as an instructor for Brookhaven Campus, as well as The University of North Texas, she was known to include information on the Holocaust in her English courses.

Plotkin additionally taught courses on Jewish studies and Holocaust-related literature and media. She also penned a 1988 book titled, “Sisters in Sorrow: Voices of Care in the Holocaust.” The book was co-written by Roger A. Ritvo, a biographer and prominent researcher. The book contains firsthand accounts from women, specifically nurses, who served in Europe during the Holocaust.