Speakers Bureau


Speaker’s Bureau – Putting a Face on History

Stories are the single most important tool in a teacher’s toolkit.

– Howard Gardner

Our guest speaker put a face on history – in a way no text book ever could.

– 6th grade teacher, Great Salt Bay Community School

For audiences across the state of Maine, the HHRC Speakers Bureau provides access to an extraordinary roster of compelling presenters – Holocaust survivors, liberators, artists and scholars, active human rights professionals – on a wide range of topics.

Established in 1985, the Speakers Bureau offers an invaluable resource to schools, churches, civic groups and organizations. HHRC staff will assist you in selecting an age-appropriate presenter who best matches your interests and needs.


Please contact HHRC to arrange bookings and fees.

207.621.3530 | infohhrc@maine.edu


El-Fadel Arbab – Fur Cultural Revolution
Topic: Sudan & Darfur: Genocide & Survival
Age Level: All

Margie Berkovich – Detective
Topic: Civil Rights Law & Hate Crimes
Age Level: All

Harry Blumenthal – Liberator
Topic: A Buchenwald Liberator’s View of the Holocaust
Age Level: High School – Adult

Julius Ciembroniewicz, M.D. – Holocaust Survivor
Topic: My Personal Experiences During the Holocaust
Age Level: High School – Adult

Thom Harnett – Former Assistant Attorney General
Topic: Maine Civil Rights Team Project
Age Level: All

Christine Holden, Ph.D. – Professor of History, USM, Retired
Topics: Teaching About the Holocaust
– Jews & Russia, Germany Today
– Ravensbrück Concentration Camp for Women
Age Level: All

Robert Katz – Artist
Topic: Slide Presentation – Journeys into “Galacia” in Poland
Age Level: High School – Adult

Marcel Polak – Child of Holocaust Survivor
Topic: My Experiences as a Child in Concentration Camps
Age Level: Middle School – Adult

Barry Rodrigue, Ph.D. – Professor of Geography
Topics: Franco-Americans and French North America
– Russia Chechnya and Caucasus
Age Level: Adult

Charles Rotmil – Hidden Child Holocaust Survivor
Topic: Coming Out of Silence: My Story as a Hidden Child in Belgium and France
Age Level: All

Daphne L. Stern – Daughter of Holocaust Escapee
Topic: Why Study the Holocaust?
– Diversity & Human Rights
– Celebrating Differences: Antisemitism, Racism, Homophobia.
Age Level: Middle School – Adult

Ernie Weiss – Child of Holocaust Survivor
Flight from Austria
Age Level:
Grade 8 – Adult

Anna Wrobel – Child of Holocaust Survivor
Partisans & Resistance in Poland
– Jews in the Russian Army
– Multicultural & Civil Rights Education
– African-American History
– Literature as Memory and Commemoration of the Holocaust
Age Level:


Who’s Who in the Speakers Bureau

Marcel Polak – Child of Holocaust SurvivorPolak

I was born in Paris, France. My father, Bernard Polak, was born in Ruscova, Romania, and my mother Henni was born in Mannheim, Germany.
My parents survived the Holocaust, but both of my grandmothers were murdered in Auschwitz, and my uncle died in Sachsenhausen. I have visited Auschwitz and Gurs Concentration Camp in the French Pyrenees, where my mother was interned during WW II.

I currently live with my wife, Emily Ecker, in Woodstock, Maine, where I work as a real estate broker and land conservation consultant.




Daphne Lehava Stern – Child of Holocaust Escapeedaphne1

Raised in Manhattan and Monhegan, I learned at an early age that diversity is celebratory. My human and civil rights orientation, dating back to the Sixties, was nourished later in Women’s Studies, and has evolved into a deep desire to seek linkages between the myriad aspects of our community. In my work and volunteer life, I believe in maintaining a healthy sense of individuality, while striving for common ground. The denominator of equality should serve as the foundation of all our efforts.


charles1Charles Rotmil – Hidden Child Holocaust Survivor


For many years I did not tell anyone about my experiences in the war. I was a ten year-old boy hiding from the Nazis, in constant fear of being caught, people disappearing all around me . . .

I was born in Alsace Lorraine, Strasbourg in 1932, a few months before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. My family moved to Vienna in 1938, where we were caught in the full-blown war against the Jews. We escaped first to Belgium until 1940 when Germany invaded Belgium, then to France where my mother and sister died in a train crash. In 1943 my father was arrested and taken to Auschwitz where he was gassed upon arrival. My brother and I went into hiding under the wings of a monk who hid around 350 children.

I arrived in the USA in 1946, and today I am a filmmmaker and retired school teacher living in Maine.


Robert Katz – Artist

robert1Professor of Art at the University of Maine at Augusta, Robert Katz has created numerous Holocaust memorials and sculptural installations, including Were the House Still Standing on permanent exhibit at HHRC. His Holocaust-related art works have been displayed at universities and galleries throughout the United States, and have been recently presented in Poland and Israel. Katz has made over a dozen journeys to eastern Europe to uncover the fate of his ancestors at the hands of the Nazis.


ernie1Ernie Weiss – Child of Holocaust Survivor

I am the son of a concentration camp survivor. I wrote a book – Out of Vienna: Eight Years of Flight from the Nazis – about my father’s imprisonment in Dachau and my family’s flight from the Nazis. Not all of them lived to tell the tale.

I was born in Vienna in 1931. When Hitler invaded Austria in 1938, my family fled to Yugoslavia and then to Cuba. We eventually obtained visas and were admitted to the United States in 1946. I attended Brookline High School near Boston, Boston University, and served two years in the United States Army. After a career in sales and marketing, I am now retired and living in Maine.


El-Fadel Arbab – Fur Cultural Revolutionel-fada1

When I was twelve years old, my village was attacked by the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed militia. I suffered multiple burn injuries and our family home was burned. My family scattered after the attack, and I was forced to survive on my own for almost four years before being reunited with my family. I am now an American citizen living in Portland, Maine, home to more than one hundred Darfur refugees.

Since 2003, more than 400,000 people have died and over 2.7 million people have been displaced in Darfur, Sudan. While this may seem like old news in a faraway place, the genocide in Darfur is real – and it has not stopped.


152Thom Harnett – Former Assistant Attorney General

I grew up in and around New York City. After graduating from Fordham University and New York University School of Law, I began my law career representing migrant farm workers in New York State. I have worked to defend people’s civil and human rights throughout my career.

Since moving to Maine in 1989, I’ve worked in civil rights education and enforcement. I have brought numerous cases under the Maine Civil Rights Act to redress acts of violence and property damage motivated by bias due to race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender, physical and mental disability, or sexual orientation. As Assistant Attorney General, I also direct the Civil Rights Team Project in Maine schools.


Guidelines How to Use the Speakers Bureau


HHRC staff can assist you in designing an effective event with the most appropriate presenter.
Contact us: 207.621.3530 | infohhrc@maine.edu



Be ready to provide us with: date, time, location, audience size and age, special needs.
HHRC will provide you with contact information for the speaker of your choice.
Speakers Bureau fees vary. Host is responsible for the guest speaker’s travel expense.


A guest speaker typically presents for 40 minutes, followed by 15 minutes Q&A with the audience. A panel discussion engages the audience and highlights the diversity of several speakers’ experiences.


For Holocaust survivors and presenters, we advise that you prepare your students or audience, and encourage them to ask questions. HHRC can provide a wide range of videos, picture archives, and historical background materials to support you. For additional links and resources, contact us: (207) 621-3531.

We ask that you be mindful of the sensitive content in the personal stories of Holocaust survivors, who may walk slowly, require special seating, and who generally choose to limit their talks to one per visit.

Please remind your audience to turn off cell phones, avoid disruptions, and refrain from taking photographs unless the speaker has agreed. In larger venues, we recommend a microphone to enhance the ease and intimacy of the presentation.


HHRC requests that a note of thanks be sent by the host to the guest presenter, as well as a brief evaluation to the HHRC. To submit the online evaluation, go here.