Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies – Muskegon

American Eyewitness to Recount 1994 Rwandan Genocide on Jan. 30 at MCC

When the Rwandan genocide broke out in 1994, one American, Carl Wilkens, chose to stay in the country and risk everything in hope of saving a few lives. The 2014 film I’m Not Leaving by writer/director Kevin Ekvall chronicles his experience.

On Tuesday, Jan. 30, Wilkens will participate via Skype for two screenings of the film and to answer questions afterwards. The showings at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. in MCC’s Collegiate Hall are sponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies – Muskegon. MCC Instructor George Maniates will facilitate the first showing and Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Board Member Sarah Woycehoski will facilitate the second showing.

Both showings are free and open to the public, which will have the opportunity to reflect on how hatred can erupt into targeted violence and why some choose to stand against it.

In the spring of 1994, Wilkens was a humanitarian aid worker serving Rwanda with his wife and young family, Tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi peoples of Rwanda were high. Years of oppression, mistrust, and propaganda exploded on April 6, 1994, when the plane carrying the Hutu president was shot out of the sky by a surface air missile. In the following 100 days, hundreds of thousands of Tutsi were slaughtered at the hands of Hutu-supported militia.

As the genocide was beginning and all foreign aid workers ordered by their own governments to leave Rwanda, Wilkens made the decision to stay behind and help. He was the only American to do so. The documentary I’m Not Leaving tells Wilkens’ story of the choice to remain and what he experienced during those 100 days.

For more information, contact Trynette Lottie-Harps at (231) 777-0559.

Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies – Muskegon

Mailing address:
PO Box 452
Muskegon MI 49440



Pastor Christopher Anderson
Retired Chairperson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Mr. David Klemm
Vice Chair
Muskegon Area Intermediate School District 

Ms. Sarah Woycehoski
Fruitport Schools
Administrative Secretary 

Rabbi Alan Alpert
Congregation B’nai Israe

Ms. Trynette Lottie-Harps
Muskegon Community College 

Ms. Anna Alpert
Congregation B’nai Israel

About Us

In 1995 a Service of Commemoration was held at Samuel Lutheran Church in the city of Muskegon. Pastor Chris Anderson and Rabbi Alan Alpert gathered in the small Worship Center with 12 people in attendance. The service commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the liberation of the only remaining death camp, Auschwitz, and the many concentration camps spread throughout northern Europe and the murder of six million Jews and five million others because they were Slavs, Roma and Sinti, or their religious or political beliefs or their sexual orientation. The service also commemorated Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was murdered by the Nazis at Flossenburg prison on April 9, 1945 for his participation the attempt to assassinate Hitler.

It has been a remarkable 20 years bringing primary witnesses to the Holocaust, individuals who lived in Europe and were part of the Hitler Youth, scholars in Holocaust studies. Various organizations have shared their gifts of music: the Cammerata Singers under the direction of Floyd Farmer; the Muskegon Chamber Choir under the direction of David Wikman; area high school and middle school choirs and instrumental groups from Reeths-Puffer, North Muskegon, Mona Shores, Muskegon High School and a diverse group of individuals.

In an effort to provide for this organization’s work into the future, a partnership was forged with Muskegon Community College and the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District. We moved from being the Shoah Remembrance Committee of Muskegon to the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies–Muskegon, whose mission is: cultivating values to diffuse hate and encourage diversity.

The Center will provide opportunities to the Muskegon Community which result in:

  • Education: The Muskegon Community learns, thinks critically and applies lessons learned from the Holocaust and genocide
  • Commemoration: The Muskegon Community remembers and reflects upon the victims of the Holocaust and genocide
  • Perpetuation: The Muskegon Community recognizes the ongoing importance of educating and commemorating beyond the immediacy of the victims of the Holocaust and genocide.

On June 11, 2015 the committee finalized the By-Laws and established its first board.