Frank McMillan
Author Frank McMillan first learned about the Holocaust from a classmate when he was in the third grade. Haunted by this knowledge and its implications, for years he wrestled with telling the story in a way that would engage young readers, even ones who ordinarily might not be interested, so that they might learn the truth as he did. Cezanne Is Missing is the result. In it, he speaks to the significance of memory, tolerance, and love, and the ever-pressing need for bravery in the face of fanaticism and hate wherever they arise. His special acknowledgement to his young classmate is at the beginning of the book.
A graduate of Texas A&M University in College Station, Frank McMillan lives in Corpus Christi with his wife and two sons. McMillan teaches at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Del Mar College and consults with nonprofit organizations that address homelessness, poverty, illiteracy, and other important social issues. He has also served on the board of several environmental and human service organizations. Holocaust education is the primary focus of his work today.

The Inspiration for Cezanne Is Missing

One day when I was in third grade, a Jewish classmate of mine, Lisa Pomerantz, told the class a story of man’s inhumanity to man that has haunted me ever since. Indeed, what she said that day literally changed my life. She told how young Jewish boys and girls were murdered during World War II in Europe in something called the Holocaust. My nine year-old mind could not conceive of such a thing ever happening to anyone, let alone to millions. I have never been the same since and I have never forgotten her words.

The years went by, and, over time, I learned more and more about this terrible time in history from my Jewish uncle, whose family came to Texas from Russia, and from my Jewish friends and neighbors. Inspired to learn more, I began to read as much as I could about the Holocaust. Later, in high school, I was a counselor at our local Jewish Community Center’s summer camp and there I met the children and grandchildren of survivors. Time passed. Then, one evening a few years ago, I was watching our local public access channel when a show called “Race and Reasonâ€? came on and the two men on screen – sitting in front of Confederate flag backdrop – began to discuss the Holocaust. What I heard stunned and then enraged me. In disbelief, as I watched, they talked about how Holocaust didn’t happen, about how it was all a lie; in fact, they even called it the “Hoaxacaust.â€? That’s when I knew what I had to do. I had to tell the truth. And I had learned it all those many years ago from the brave testimony of my classmate, Lisa. Inspired by Lisa’s witness, I began to write. The result is my novel

Cezanne Is Missing by Frank McMillan

for young adults, Cezanne Is Missing (Cambridge House Publishing: New York, 2006), which tells the story of a Warsaw Ghetto resistance fighter and her family. My hope is that its witness and words move others to seek the paths of Truth and Remembrance, even as I was so moved by the words and witness of another many years ago.

As a result, Holocaust education is an important part of my life today. In conjunction with my book, I lecture at junior highs and secondary schools. In Corpus Christi, I shared the stage with several local Holocaust survivors as I spoke to over three hundred high school students in a one-day seminar arranged around the main themes of the book. I also accompany a survivor friend when she speaks to area elementary schools about her childhood experiences during the war. In 2004, I was asked to be the featured speaker at our community’s Yom HaShoah observances at Temple Beth El.

In April 2005, I was on the committee that brought Gerda Weissmann Klein to Corpus Christi to speak at Del Mar College, where she addressed an assembly of 1700 young people bussed in from schools across South Texas. Ms. Klein’s speech is still broadcast on our local public television station and the Del Mar College librarian has done a sophisticated and efficient job in assembling materials so students can conduct follow-up research on the issues addressed in Mrs. Klein’s moving testimony. In June 2005, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Holocaust Organizations in Richmond, Virginia, and last December, I donated money and time as a member of the committee that worked with several churches and our local temple to bring Birkenau survivor Ernest Michel to Corpus Christi to speak about his experiences as a journalist at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. I also accompanied Mr. Michel to two local high schools where he told the rapt audience of students about his time in Auschwitz, thereby touching their hearts and expanding their views of the world. As a guest of Ellen Fettner (Spirit of Anne Frank Award Winner), in February 2006 it was my privilege to attend the conference of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors held in Washington D.C. This summer, I was honored to be selected for the Jewish Labor Committee’s Holocaust & Jewish Resistance Teachers Program founded by Vladka and Benjamin Meed, which takes educators to Poland and Israel. Although I was unable to participate this year due to my teaching commitments, I hope to make the trip in 2007.