The Union Recorder

May 9, 2013

Local hero honored as Holocaust liberator

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — A Georgia Military College alumnus, the memory of late Jake Goldstein as one who helped liberate the concentration camps during World War II will be honored IN an exhibit shown at Georgia College.

“This is a really wonderful way to honor Jake’s memory and give him a tribute, given that he himself was a Holocaust liberator,” said Karen Berman, Georgia College Department of Theater chair. “He would tell me the stories of the horror he went through as he helped within the U.S. military to free the people in concentration camps. He talked about how they were starving and were ordered by the army to give them small amounts of food and water because their stomachs weren’t prepared for great amounts and it could kill them.”

The Georgia College Department of Theater and the Goodrich Hillel Association are presenting the Holocaust exhibit titled, “Visas for Life: Righteous Diplomats,” which premiered at the United Nations. The exhibit will open Friday at the Wooten-Garner House ArtFix Gallery, located across from the Old Governor’s Mansion on South Clarke Street.

“I’m really enjoying that the student Hillel society on campus, and the theater department can bring some Jewish culture to the campus. This exhibit helps people understand the Holocaust more and understand more about the unexpected heroes that were behind deaths that were under diplomatic centers all over the world that were at their own risk who were helping Jews escape from the Nazi’s,” said Berman, also faculty advisor to Hillel. “We’re helping teach students to live by their conscious, live their correct choices and problem-solve in innovative ways; that’s what these heroes did.”

The exhibit is provided by the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast and the Consulate General of Israel in New York due to the work of Sylvia Wygoda, former executive director of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. 

“I arranged for this exhibit to be brought to Milledgeville out of deep respect, admiration and affection for Jake and Maxine Goldstein,” Wygoda said in a press release.

The exhibit portrays the diplomats who risked their reputations, professions and their lives, violating their own country’s rules in order to rescue Jews during the Nazi occupation by granting them visas to escape. It features the stories of diplomats from all across the world who made choices to save endangered strangers. More than 200,000 Jews were saved by diplomats. The exhibit is based on original photographs collected during the period.

“As a public liberal arts university in Georgia, this exhibit really exemplifies leadership and heroism that we hope our students aspire to,” Berman said. “These diplomats made their own personal choices of conscious to aid people escape death and concentration camps, but were not exactly following the rules of their diplomatic agency. They made some personal choices to defend and saved so many lives.”

Maxine Goldstein, a member on the Board of Trustees for Georgia College, is proud of the honor this bestows on her late husband. Her husband attended Georgia Military High School and Georgia Military Junior College. He also graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelors in business administration. He served as a captain in Patton’s Third Army during World War II. Serving four years he receiving two Bronze Stars and the Combat Infantry Badge. He has also been associated with C. Goldstein and Sons in Milledgeville, a department store and wholesale business, for more than 60 years serving as president. He was co-founder and member of the board of First Federal Savings and Loan of Milledgeville. He later became chairman of the BB&T Bank Board and a board member of Temple Beth Israel in Macon.

“Jake was a great man in Milledgeville, not only for his military service but as a business leader in town and a great, funny storyteller. I’m so grateful we have this exhibit because his wife, Maxine, is on the Board of Trustees at Georgia College, and she has been very instrumental in helping the university; she has been a great leader as well,” Berman said. “It’s a great honor for us to present this exhibit.”

The exhibition will remain on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until May 22, or by request. When the exhibit leaves Milledgeville, it will go to Chattanooga, Tenn., where Wygoda resides.

For more information about the exhibit, contact Berman at 478-445-8290. To request a visit of the exhibit during off hours, call 478-445-4572.

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