For most, Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to millions of readers around the world as Dr. Seuss, will always be remembered as the man behind the classic books from their childhood. The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE) has created an exhibit, which is being showcased by the Peter White Public Library and is sponsored by Hillel and Temple Beth Shalom. The exhibit shows Seuss in a new light, but one that is still relevant in our life today.
Pam Christensen, director of the Peter White Public Library, first became aware of the exhibit through the CHHE, located in Indiana.
Even though many may not be familiar with the political cartoons of Dr. Seuss, Christensen said people looking at them will recognize Seuss’s style.
“The cartoons show a powerful and sometimes satirical message,” Christensen said.
One of the panels shows a Seuss character reading a story titled “Hitler the Wolf” to children with the caption, “. And the Wolf chewed up the children and spit out their bones . but those were Foreign Children and it didn’t really matter.”
This panel reflects part of the history behind the exhibit and the outrage Seuss felt regarding America’s involvement in the war.
“They did pass a bill to let 20,000 Jewish children into the United States as a protective matter, but that was very controversial and never really happened,” Christensen said. “Whereas people in the U.S. during the war took in 1,000 British cats that were left homeless.”
Christensen said it was sad to think there was such prejudice against the Jews and that it even extended to children, adding that she thinks children can often break down prejudicial barriers
Laura Jackson, senior zoology major and member of Hillel, NMU’s Jewish student organization, said she first became involved with the exhibit when the group’s advisor, Helen Kahn, drew it to her attention.
“She thought it might be a good idea to help sponsor them because we had some funds available,” Jackson said. “So we made a donation and then we helped put up posters around campus. We just thought it would be a really nice exhibit to tie in with the Holocaust memorial day.”
Jackson said she really likes the exhibit and thinks it gives new insight to Dr. Seuss because a lot of people think he only wrote children’s stories.
Students who feel inspired by the political cartoons of Dr. Seuss can learn more about the Jewish faith by attending meetings of Hillel
“We’re an organization primarily for Jewish students, but we are open and accepting of anyone who wishes to come spend time with us,” Jackson said.
With more than 500 chapters at colleges and universities, Hillel provides students the opportunity to explore and celebrate their Jewish identity.
“I really want people who are on campus now and people who may be thinking about Northern as their option for college, to know that if they’re looking for a Jewish community we have it here,” Jackson said.
While there is a Jewish population in Marquette, Jackson said she has felt anti-Semitism. It is this prejudice that Seuss tried to rail against in his political cartoons.
“Every once in a while there’ll be a little something . Mostly it’s because I think parents aren’t teaching anything else. The ignorance tends to breed confusion,” Jackson said.
The exhibit for Dr. Seuss runs throughout the month of April at the Peter White Public Library. Hillel meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Pioneer A at the University Center.