It is one thing to read a narrative of the Holocaust in a book, but it is an entirely different experience to hear a first-person account from survivors. On Wednesday, Nov. 29, students in Dr. Terry Price’s Leadership Ethics classes, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies’ capstone course, had the opportunity to listen to and learn from two such survivors, Alan and Halina Zimm.

During the Holocaust, Alan was sent to several concentration camps, including Buchenwald, before being liberated on April 15, 1945. For the majority of the war, Halina worked as a housekeeper in Warsaw under a Christian identity.

“There are all kinds of reasons to think it is important for the Zimms to speak to our students,” says Price, who holds the Coston Family Chair in Leadership and Ethics. “Meeting face-to-face with the Zimms and hearing their stories both expands and deepens our understanding of what happened, why it happened, and how we might avoid something like it happening again.”

The lecture, which was open to University of Richmond faculty, staff, and students, took place in Weinstein Hall, Brown-Alley Room.

 “I want to make it clear that hate is wrong and love is right,” said Halina, reflecting upon her experiences.

 “Mrs. Zimm spoke so eloquently about her ability to forgive and love despite the atrocities committed against her family and the Jews around her,” said Madison Martinez, ’18, a leadership studies and English double major. “She put into perspective the importance of remembering and telling stories of genocide so that the Holocaust is not repeated.”

Leadership studies major Collin Kavanaugh, ’18, also said he was struck by Halina’s comments about forgiveness, noting her compassion and understanding as something “we should aim to emulate today.”

“We do this not to make excuses for their actions, but to understand them as the ethical failures they were,” says Kavanaugh.

The Zimms’ visit coincided with the class’s reading of philosopher Jonathan Glover’s Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, which, Price says, includes an extensive discussion of Nazism.

“In my leadership ethics course with Dr. Price, we frequently discuss what moves people to commit egregious acts against humanity,” says Kavanaugh. “There is always a degree of justification that leads to these terrible events, and we must be constantly vigilant so as to prevent them from occurring again in the future.”

Dr. Price’s classes followed up the lecture by visiting the Virginia Holocaust Museum on Dec. 1.