Everything Started With a Lithuanian Village
By Luoman Huang, Social Media Intern
“The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission is like a secret society. We exist, but no one has ever heard of us.” While Commissioner Kasman’s comment about the THGC may be true now, the work that he has put into the organization in education and awareness is assuredly changing that outlook for the better.
Dr. Kasman is a retired dentist and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. A father of three children and a grandfather of six, he currently resides in Midland, Texas, but is originally from Austin. In his spare time, Dr. Kasman enjoys a good game of golf as well as managing a bingo charity for his community.
While he is now a Commissioner for the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission (THGC), Dr. Kasman’s fascination with Holocaust history began with a simple photo of a Lithuanian village. His interest began with a desire to find more information regarding the photo. He would constantly do research for more information. It was this photograph that motivated the development of Dr. Kasman’s personal photo and book collections, which were eventually donated to Holocaust museums in Dallas and Houston, and the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History in Austin.
As part of his service with the Commission, Dr. Kasman has helped complete several projects. One of his proudest achievements is his on-going effort to creating a virtual book with Texas Tech University, which will chronicle the stories of survivors, liberators, and soldiers for future generations, ensuring that Texans won’t forget this vital part of our history. We are losing our World War II soldiers and Holocaust survivors at an astounding rate, and this book will serve as a reminder of their heroic actions. Many camp liberators were Texan soldiers, so it is important that Texans recognize this great achievement.
The Lithuanian village of Raden, home of the Chofetz Hayyim (1930)
Within the Commission, Dr. Kasman first served as chair of the Education Committee, but is currently chairman of the Resources Committee. While working with education, the Commissioners discovered that the Holocaust was often omitted in secondary school teaching, and the committee worked tirelessly, under his direction, to make sure that genocides became part of the state teaching standards (TEKS), which they now are. For the Resources Committee, Dr. Kasman and others are responsible for taking programs the Commission develops and ensuring that they are delivered to Texans. The goal is to encourage high school and college students to become more aware about the Holocaust and modern genocides. Currently, the Resources Committee is leading an effort to interview survivors of modern genocides. Their stories are being documented at Baylor University and will soon be finalized.
The biggest challenge Dr. Kasman face has faced in helping achieve the Commission’s goal of educating students is competing for their attention. In a society where media dominates, it is very difficult to grab and maintain student interest. Through using innovative programs and developing engaging lesson plans, the Commission has made an effort to reach Texas students. Despite these challenges, Commissioner Kasman has enjoyed his time serving on the Commission. The great people he’s met and the programs he has helped developed have made everything worthwhile. Being able to educate students, most of whom know little about the Holocaust, brings him fulfillment in knowing that a new generation will learn and never forget.
For those interested in learning more about the Holocaust, Dr. Kasman has recommended The World Must Know by Michael Berenbaum.