Doctoral Dissertation filed June 2009 - Book published 2019
I completed my Doctoral Program at UCSB in the summer of 2009 by filing my dissertation in late June 2009. It is titled "From Zbaszen to Manila: The Holocaust Odyssey of Joseph Cysner and the Philippine Rescue of Refugee Jews." My book, Philippine Sanctuary: A Holocaust Odyssey, supersedes the dissertation, which is no longer available to the pubic.
"An Open Door: Holocaust Haven in the Philippines"
I am the Associate Producer and Holocaust Scholar for this documentary. An Open Door is a feature-length documentary on the uplifting story of how a small Asian nation was able to save over 1,300 Jews as they fled the pogroms of Nazi Germany. It is written, produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Noel M. Izon.
This film has been making the International Film Festival Circuit, as
well as the academic circuit, for the last year and has gleaned several
awards including, Best Film in Science and Education, Milan Italy
(November 2016), Best Feature Documentary, London, England (February
2017), Best Documentary, St. Petersburg, Russia (April 2017), and Silver
Metal Winner (Highest Telly Award) in History at the 38th Annual Telly
Awards (April 2017). It has been nominated for Best Feature Documentary
at Nice, France in May, as well as for Best Original Score. Over the
next few months, the film will travel to in Madrid, Australia, South
Africa, the Philippines, and Israel.
See more information about this project in Projects and Publications
PhD Program for Public History at UC Santa Barbara
"So what is Public History?" you ask. Well, to shorten an otherwise lengthy and sometimes ambiguous answer, it is simply the identification, interpretation, collection, preservation, organization, presentation, and/or dissemination of "history" to the "public." Ah, but now one has to inquire further and ask, "what is history?" and "who is the public?" In order to work with understandable concepts, let me offer my answers to these questions. Quite simply put, history is the past--yours, mine, ours, theirs--it is people and their relationship to the world in which they lived. History is the unfolding of human drama against the backdrop of places, events, eras, things, and other peoples. History answers the questions of who you are and how you became who you are. And you and everyone around you are the public. Whether you are a gardener, a scholar, a mechanic, a doctor, or any other "title" by which you define yourself, be it religious, economic, political, social, familial - you are the public. The public can be one or it can be a million and one. As a public historian working as an archivist, my professional duty is to aid in the collection and preservation of material items and documents that testify to events, places, and people, etc., in the present and in the past so that it may be acknowledged, accessed, and appreciated in the future. Public historians work in public policy and policy analysis; federal, state, and local history; historic preservation; oral history; museum and historical administration; documentation and information services, such as archives, libraries, and historical societies; corporate biography and records; public history education; family histories and genealogy; education through multimedia, such as radio, film, television and internet, both in digital and non-digital formats; memorials, commemoration events, and national parks, just to name a few.
Holocaust Stories of Joseph and Sylvia Cysner
I started my career in Public History officially when I answered a posting for a Work Study position at SDSU while working on my Master's degree in History. The job description as assistant to the director of the Lipinsky Institute for Judaic Studies included archival preservation work for The Jewish Historical Society of San Diego. I took a special readings graduate class in Public History and the rest, as they say, is "history." That was nearly 15 years ago and my association with the JHSSD gave me the opportunity to accept an invitation into the PhD Program for Public History at UCSB. Little did I know that just months prior to starting my program of course work, the subject of my PhD dissertation research would literally "plop" into my life in the summer of 2003 when the JHSSD accessioned the collection of Cantor Joseph P. Cysner. To learn more about his remarkable Holocaust story and the equally amazing survival story of his wife, Sylvia Cysner, go here------> "The Cysner Story"
My PhD Graduate Program in Public History
Because of this amazing story of Cantor Cysner's internments and rescues, having been interned by both the Nazis and the Japanese in WWII and having lived to tell about them both, I fashioned my fields of study in my Public History PhD Program with a focus on Modern Jewish History as my general field, Holocaust History as my specialty field, and my dissertation titled From Zbaszyn to Manila: The Holocaust Odyssey of Joseph Cysner and the Philippine Rescue of Refugee Jews. This subject has allowed me to contribute and participate in several events of commemoration throughout the world:
On June 21, 2009, in the city of Rishon LeZion, a suburb of Tel Aviv, the dedication of the-->Open Doors Monument to the Rescue of Refugee Jews in the Philippines transpired. I had been an invited guest of the Philippine Embassy in Israel but was unable to attend as I was teaching at UCSB at the time and filing my dissertation on that day. I contributed funds to the building of the memorial in honor of Joseph Cysner. It was somehow poetically just that I filed the first academic study of the Rescue of Refugee Jews in the Philippines on the very day of this dedication.
On October 28, 2008, I participated in a wonderful 70th Anniversary memorial event for the Zbaszyn Deportations in the city of Zbaszyn, Poland where I presented the story of the deportation of Cantor Joseph Cysner as recounted in his recently uncovered memoir. Please link here---->See You Next Year in Jerusalem<---- for more info.
To view the Exhibit titled "A Glimpse into the Past: The Jewish Community in the Philippines," created by the Israeli Embassy of The Philippines in November 2006, please link here-----> A Glimpse into The Past - Online Exhibit. Significant contributions to the exhibit came from the Joseph Cysner Collection, housed at the JHSSD. I was an honored speaker at a significant showing of the exhibit.
To view an abbreviated version of my pre-dissertation paper on the History of Jews in the Philippines, see my entry in the ---->Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia<----.
My Memorial Tribute to 911 in Honor of Martha Stevens
***Something new I have just added here is a link to a 9/11 video memorial I composed, which is an assemblage of visuals of the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers with an audio track of The Glenn Beck Radio Program Tribute to 911. It is about 10 minutes in length and will play on my "youtube.com" site when you click on the sub-headings title above.***
PhD Research Travel
Links here will take you to my Primary Research for my dissertation and to a summary of my research into Holocaust Memorialization in the international community.
Oral History Interviews
As part of my research experiences I have been fortunate enough to have interviewed:
1. Survivors of the Jewish community in The Philippines.
2. Marine Veterans of the VMF 215 Squadron, stationed at Guadalcanal, 1943 - 1944
3. John W. Blankenship, director of The Pierre Claeyssens Military Museum & Library
4. Abe Shragge, curator at San Diego's Veterans Museum & Memorial Center
Link to these interviews by clicking on the underlined title to this section.