There will be a public play reading at Hope College of “If the Whole Body Dies: Raphael Lemkin and the Treaty Against Genocide” by Robert Skloot on Wednesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. in the DeWitt Center main theatre.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

Skloot, who will be visiting Hope for a three-day residency, will direct and participate in the reading.  He will also moderate a discussion with the audience following the presentation.

Raphael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish jurist, was born in 1900 on a small farm near the Polish town of Wolkowysk. When Nazi Germany, invaded Poland, he escaped from Europe, eventually reaching safety in the United States, where he took up a teaching position at Duke University.  He moved to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 1942 to join the War Department as an analyst and went on to document Nazi atrocities in his 1944 book “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.” He introduced the word “genocide” in the text.

Lemkin was determined to see “genocide” added to international law and began lobbying for this at early sessions of the United Nations. His tireless efforts to enlist the support of national delegations and influential leaders eventually paid off. On Dec. 9, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Lemkin did not rest with the UN document, but committed the rest of his life to urging nations to pass legislation supporting the Convention. He died in 1959, impoverished and exhausted by his efforts.

Robert Skloot retired in 2008 after 40 years of teaching, directing and administrating at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His career has included serving as a Fulbright Professor in Israel, Austria, Chile and The Netherlands, and as a Fulbright specialist in England.  He is the author and editor of many books and essays about the theatre of the Holocaust and genocide, including “The Darkness We Carry: The Drama of the Holocaust,” the two-volume anthology “The Theatre of the Holocaust” and “The Theatre of Genocide: Four Plays about Mass Murder in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia and Armenia.” In 2011, Skloot was chosen for inclusion in the book “Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide.” Over a generation, Skloot has presented scores of lectures throughout the United States and internationally on subjects that include the arts of the Holocaust, the theatre and genocide, Holocaust education, American theatre and drama, and the Jews of Cuba.

The presentation of the play and Skloot’s residency is sponsored by several departments in the social sciences and the Arts and Humanities Division at Hope, and made possible by the generous support of Jeff and Peg Padnos.

The DeWitt Center is located at 141 E. 12th St., facing Columbia Avenue at 12th Street.