Breaking the Silence – Stories of Courage from our Elders

Tuesday, May 3, 7:00pm with light reception before in lobby
Location: Mediatheque Theater at Pacific Northwest College of Art, 511 NW Broadway, Portland, OR 97209
Cost: Free to the Public, RSVP encouraged | Talk

Breaking the Silence – Stories of Courage from our Elders

Tuesday, May 3, 7:00pm with light reception before in lobby

Location: Mediatheque Theater at Pacific Northwest College of Art, 511 NW Broadway, Portland, OR 97209

Four speakers will talk about their lives during and after the Second World War. Moderated by Linda Tamura of Willamette University, the conversation will focus on the role storytelling plays in the healing process after trauma. The panelists will connect their experiences with the war and their later decisions to begin public speaking. One of the speakers, George Nakata lived in Japanese American concentration camp in Idaho during World War II. A second speaker, Taka Mizote, spent the war years in farm labor camps in eastern Oregon.  The other two speakers, Les and Eva Aigner, survived the Second World War in Europe then lived through political unrest in Hungary before emigrating to America.

Voices of Hope and Action is an on-going annual event of intercultural conversation providing a platform to examine the roots of racism and hate while providing stories of hope and action.

This event is presented in partnership with Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education and Oregon Nikkei Endowment with Pacific Northwest College of Art hosting the program on their campus.

Linda Tamura
is Professor of Education Emerita at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.  She is author of Nisei Soldiers Break Their Silence: Coming Home to Hood River and The Hood River Issei: An Oral History of Japanese Settlers in Oregon’s Hood River Valley.

Panelist Speakers:

Eva Aigner was born in 1937 in Kosice, Czechoslovakia and moved to Budapest, Hungary, shortly after the start of the Second World War. She is a survivor of the Budapest Ghetto and narrowly missed being shot by Nazi soldiers at the Danube waterfront.  Her extended family did not survive the Holocaust. 

In 1944 Leslie Aigner, his mother, and his eight-year-old sister were taken from their home to the Budapest Ghetto. From there they were taken to Auschwitz. After spending time in various camps Les was liberated in Dachau by American troops on April 29, 1945. Les's mother, 8 old sister and 90 percent of his extended family did not survive.  After local Holocaust deniers became vocal in the late 1980s, Leslie and Eva began sharing their story with audiences far and wide.

Taka Mizote grew up in Hillsboro, Oregon on her family’s farm.  In the spring of 1942, Japanese Americans were removed from western Oregon and Taka’s family was held at the Portland Assembly Center.  When the call came from eastern Oregon farmers asking for laborers, Taka’s father volunteered the family and they spent the war years in labor camps.  Taka’s husband, Jim, was a member of 442nd Regimental Combat Team.  Some members of the 442nd helped to liberate sub-units of the Dachau extermination camp.  After the war, they returned to Hillsboro. Taka later taught in Portland Public Schools.

George Nakata grew up in Portland, Oregon where his family ran a hotel.  During World War II, George and his family were removed to the Portland Assembly Center.  They were later sent to the Minidoka concentration camp in southern Idaho. After the war, he returned to Portland with his family.  George worked for international companies and Port of Portland, before starting his own company.