Between 1944 and 1946, more than 4,000 German prisoners of war called Maine home. The story of how they arrived and the lasting impact that they had on the people who encountered them is one of Maine’s most interesting and obscure stories.
Using materials and research used to create the 2012 exhibit Maine Boys Overseas and German Boys in Maine, Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine Program Director David Greenham shares the lively and surprising story of an interesting chapter of Maine history.
It is a story of cooperation, kindness, and enemies who found a way to work for a common good, and even became friends.
About David Greenham:
David Greenham works as a grant writer and Program Manager for the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine (HHRC), and is an adjunct professor of Drama at the University of Maine at Augusta. He has been a theater artist and arts administrator for more than 25 years.
David is a history buff and has been commissioned several times to create touring programs for the Maine Humanities Council. As a theater artist, David spent 14 years leading The Theater At Monmouth, the Shakespearean Theater of Maine. In the past few years, he has performed or directed productions with Everyman Repertory Theater, The Portland Fringe Festival, Bath Shakespeare Festival, Camden Shakespeare Festival, the Waterville Opera House, and Capitol City Improv in Augusta. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Augusta Colonial Theater, and Everyman Repertory Theater is on advisory boards for the Snow Pond Center for the Arts and Celebration Barn.
In 2012, David created the exhibit Maine Boys Overseas and German Boys in Maine for the HHRC. The exhibit and the research to create it was the inspiration for the POW Camps in Maine program that has been presented for several community groups in Maine. He continues to research the project with the goal of writing a book about the topic in partnership with several historians.
The HHRC uses the lessons of the Nazi Holocaust and other genocides to combat prejudice and discrimination in Maine and beyond. They encourage individuals and communities to reflect and act upon their ethical and moral responsibilities in our modern world.
The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine sprang from a 1984 seminar at Bowdoin College, the inspiration and legacy of Gerda Haas, Holocaust survivor and author of Tracking the Holocaust and These I Do Remember: Fragments from the Holocaust.
In April 1985, following the Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day of Remembrance) service at the Blaine House in Augusta, the Holocaust and Human Rights Center announced its official birth, with Gerda Haas as Founding Director. The HHRC presented programs for schools and its annual summer seminar for teachers. In the mid-1990s, the HHRC published and distributed The Spirit that Moved Us, a three volume resource guide for teaching about diversity, prejudice, human rights, and the Holocaust. In addition to educational work, staff and volunteers at the HHRC conducted a series of interviews with Holocaust survivors in Maine which were recorded and transcribed and are still available for review.
In October 2005, the HHRC broke ground on its permanent home, the Michael Klahr Center, a Maine architectural highlight on the UMA campus at Augusta. HHRC opened its doors to the public in May 2008. The HHRC continues the legacy created by Gerda Haas through continuing educational programming and teacher training. In addition, the Klahr Center hosts rotating exhibits and many events, bringing a wide array of students, educators, community members and visitors to the UMA campus each year.