Casey Bush ’19 remembers when she first learned about the horrors of the Holocaust. She was in fifth grade, reading “Number the Stars,” a novel about a 10-year-old Danish girl who teams up with the Danish Resistance to help her Jewish friend and others flee the Nazis in Copenhagen.
For the 11-year-old, the book had a significant impact.
“I remember being intrigued by the story but also shocked that something so horrible could happen in the world in which I lived,” she recalls. “From that point on, I read every genocide book I could, watched every Holocaust documentary on YouTube and took the few classes available on the topic.”
Her interest in studying history and the Shoah eventually led her to Clark University, home to the world-renowned Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
“Clark was the first university I visited, which included a special trip to the Strassler Center’s Rose Library,” Bush recalls. “I stood in awe of the beautiful library, knowing that there was no way I could attend any other school. To be surrounded by others who shared my passion for studying this part of history would undoubtedly make me feel at home.”
Now a junior, Bush is working to ensure the world never forgets the Holocaust — or ignores other unfolding genocides.
She recently finished a summer internship at the CANDLES (Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors) Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana. The museum was founded by Eva Mozes Kor, who, along with her identical twin sister, was caught up in the inhumane experiments performed on 3,000 twins by Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele at the Auschwitz death camp during World War II. In 1995, Kor forgave Mengele, called “The Angel of Death,” as well as another Nazi doctor, who wrote the collective death certificates for the Jews who were murdered.
About Casey Bush ’19
Like many Holocaust survivors, the 83-year-old Kor is now racing to protect historical records related to the atrocities.
“My specific undertaking this summer was to preserve Holocaust memory and make it more accessible to the general public,” says Bush, who received the Strassler Center’s Ina and Haskell Gordon Summer Fellowship to support her internship. “Eva has boxes and boxes of historical materials in the form of print, audio and video that are in need of preservation and digitization.”
She archived historical information on Kor’s search for Mengele twin survivors; audio interviews of survivors; video interviews with Kor before and after she made the decision to forgive the Nazis; and print materials of her search for Mengele.
Bush landed the internship by following her interest in fighting genocide worldwide. Since her first year at Clark, she’s been involved with the Clark chapter of STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities. The nongovernmental organization (NGO) appointed her to its managing committee, and she served as Midwest regional organizer for college and university chapters.
At STAND’s national conference in Washington, she met the former director of CANDLES and talked about the possibility of interning at the Indiana museum. After applying for a stipend from the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, she was able to rent an apartment and make the 14-hour drive out to the Midwest.
“I lobbied on Capitol Hill, attended meetings with other NGOs and created documents for other students to learn more about the conflicts taking place in the world today,” Bush says. “As a freshman, spending the summer alone in a strange city was very nerve-wracking, but living alone taught me so much, and I matured tremendously. And working at STAND solidified my desire to work in the genocide prevention and activism field.”
On campus, Bush has worked with the Strassler Center to ensure that Clark’s STAND chapter remains active. In March, she helped organize STAND’s 2017 Northeast Regional Conference at the University.
Her work with STAND and CANDLES, as well as the support from her history professors and the Strassler Center, have helped Bush evolve into the committed scholar and activist she is today.
“I am so thankful for all the opportunities that Clark has offered me,” she says. “Being surrounded by such a caring community has made me more compassionate, outgoing and confident.”
Above: Casey Bush with Eva Kor (all photos courtesy of CANDLES)