FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Sacred Heart University is the recipient of a collection of books on the holocaust as a result of a gift from Dr. Geoffrey and Renée Hartman. The couple amassed a collection of scholarly works on the subject as a result of their work on the Holocaust Survivors Film Project.
Dr. Hartman was born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1929 and was placed on Kindertransport to England in 1939. He was reunited with his mother in the United States in 1945. He attended Queens College and earned his doctorate at Yale University. He taught at Yale for almost 40 years before retiring as Sterling Professor of English and Comparative Literature. Renée Hartman was deported as a 10 year old from Slovakia in 1944 to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp where she and her younger sister survived for a year until they were liberated in April 1945. Through Mrs. Hartman’s work on the Holocaust Survivors Film Project, Dr. Hartman recognized the value of survivor testimonies. With the support of A. Bartlett Giamatti, president of Yale in 1981, almost 200 testimonies were deposited at the Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library. Since then, the Fortunoff Video Archive has grown to include well over 4,000 testimonies.
The Hartmans selected Sacred Heart to receive the book collection because of the work being done at the University’s Center for Christian and Jewish Understanding (CCJU). The gift was given with no restriction and encompasses 600-800 volumes. “We wanted to make the donation to a University that has an active program in Christian-Jewish understanding and that would welcome our collection. The people that we talked with at Sacred Heart impressed us, so it was an easy decision,” Dr. Hartman said. “The important thing to us is that the collection gets use. I used the books a great deal, and it gives my wife and me great pleasure to think that others will continue to benefit from them.”
“The Hartman collection is a wonderful addition to our resources and will complement the Blau collection. We are grateful to the Hartmans for their generosity,” said Gavin Ferriby, Ph.D., University librarian.
Added David Coppola, Ph.D., vice president for Strategic Planning and Administration and scholar in residence for the CCJU, “A refugee from Nazi Germany at the age of nine, Dr. Geoffrey Hartman’s journey to the United States and more than 50 years of research and writing make this gift as significant and personal as they come from a seminal and beloved scholar’s heart. We are greatly appreciative.”