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The Kreisau Project

At the center of Marc P. Smith’s creative work during his last 9 years (2002-2011) are two plays: “A Journey to Kreisau” and “Karski.” Both plays have at their core Marc’s strong commitment to ‘stand witness,’ to tell these two compelling stories of individual resistance to Hitler’s Nazi regime. They are stories that are only now being told, just over 70 years since the end of World War II. Marc believed profoundly that the arts were a powerful vehicle for the transmission of memory and, in the case of these two stories, for reconciliation between Germans, Jews, and Poles.

“A Journey to Kreisau” takes audiences on an emotional journey of moral courage centered on a young German couple, Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke. See Marc’s tribute to Freya in 2011 at Boston’s Goethe-Institut :

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) placed the following excerpted tribute to Freya von Moltke into the Congressional Record, February 4, 2010 ;

“Mr. President, I rise to speak in memory of Freya von Moltke, an extraordinary woman and long-time resident of Norwich, VT, who passed away this January 1 (2010) at the age of 98… At 75, after many years in Norwich, Freya became an American citizen and an active member of the League of Women Voters… For many years she had spoken in Vermont high schools about what she and her husband and their friends had done, and the need for courage in the face of injustice in any society… It is no simple feat for a foreigner to become accepted as a ‘natural’ part of a small town in northern New England, but Freya did it… Her own hospitality is reflected in the sign she tacked to her unlocked kitchen door at the age of 90: ‘To Everybody! Please, walk in! Push hard. Find me upstairs if I don’t respond.’… Freya von Moltke was an inspiration to all who knew her. She was a wonderful friend and neighbor, and she enriched the lives of countless citizens of our State. She lived a long and fruitful life; she will be missed by admirers around the world, but most of all by the Vermonters who knew and loved her.”

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Marc’s last play, “Karski,” explores the harrowing experiences of a hero of the Polish underground, Jan Karski, often referred to as ‘the man who tried to stop the Holocaust.’ Both plays have been performed in several U.S. cities and in cities in Germany and Poland.

“There are many ways to present the little-known story of incredible individual courage in perilous times. Film, biography, painting, lectures—but to this list should be added theater. Reading Marc Smith’s play about Jan Karski is a powerful experience. I am confident that performers and audiences alike will be transformed by presenting  and watching Karski on stage. I encourage actors at schools and community theaters to tackle this powerful material.”   Wanda Urbanska, former president, Jan Karski Educational Foundation (JanKarski.net)

 

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Staged Reading of “Karski” in Worcester, April 15th, 2015

In commemoration of Yom Ha Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, a staged reading of selected scenes from Marc P. Smith’s play, Karski, was the focus of a remembrance event on April 15th, presented by the synagogues of Central Massachusetts and the Jewish Federation of Central Mass. An encouragingly large turnout, with all ages represented, provided a rapt and attentive audience for the powerful story of Jan Karski. This Polish underground hero is referred to as the man who tried to stop the Holocaust; his courage in bearing witness is a story worth re-telling, especially through the immediacy of live theatre.

Among many comments on this evening’s presentation:

“I was so moved by the staged reading of Karski. It served to remind me of the atrocities committed against fellow human beings that we must never be allowed to forget.”     -Pauline Gallant (R.N, Retired School Nurse)

“Karski’s story is heart wrenching and inspiring; it seems unthinkable and beyond believing, even though we now know better. The story revealed in Karski is ancient history to today’s school kids. So it’s imperative to keep alive the truth of it. The past is easily forgotten. We need to be reminded—over and over—forever.”   – Martha M. Hesse (Retired Educator)

Jan Karski

Jan Karski

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