SUNY Plattsburgh to Honor Holocaust Survivor and Professor Emeritus

(WNY News Now) – The SUNY Plattsburgh Jewish Studies program is set to host two events on November 1, commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Vladimir Munk, a renowned professor emeritus of biochemistry, who passed away on September 30 at the age of 98.

Plattsburgh – The SUNY Plattsburgh community will come together on November 1 to pay tribute to the life and contributions of Dr. Vladimir Munk, a distinguished professor emeritus of biochemistry and Holocaust survivor. Dr. Munk, who passed away on September 30 at the age of 98, left an indelible mark on the institution, having taught there for nearly 25 years.

Originally from Prague, Czechoslovakia, Dr. Munk’s journey to Plattsburgh began in 1968 when he was invited as a visiting professor, coinciding with the Soviet Union’s invasion of his home country. His impressive work as a visiting professor earned him a tenured position at SUNY Plattsburgh, where he continued to educate and inspire students for many years.

Dr. Munk was a beloved teacher who remained actively engaged with the college, frequently participating in alumni events. In an extraordinary testament to his enduring spirit, he embarked on a journey to Poland in January 2020 at the age of 95. This pilgrimage aimed to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Army’s liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous Nazi concentration and extermination camp where over a million lives were tragically lost. The trip became the focus of the documentary titled “Return to Auschwitz: The Survival of Vladimir Munk.”

Born in 1925 in Pardubice, Czech Republic, Dr. Munk’s life was marked by tragedy as he, along with his father, was sent to Auschwitz in 1944. Tragically, just 11 days later, his mother also met the same fate. The family was forcibly separated upon arrival, and he never saw his parents again.

The first event in honor of Dr. Munk will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Skopp Gallery, located in the Feinberg Library. At this event, Julie Canepa, a close friend of Dr. Munk in his later years, will read from her recently published novel, “The Missing Star.” This novel is based on the early life of Dr. Munk and his wife, Sophie. The reading will be followed by an interview and discussion led by Dr. Jonathan Slater, professor emeritus of journalism and public relations. Attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase and get their copies of the book signed.

Later in the evening, at 6:30 p.m. in Hudson Hall 106, there will be a screening of “Return to Auschwitz,” featuring a discussion with the filmmakers, Julie Canepa and Bruce Carlin, who serves as the TV studio coordinator and technical engineer in communication studies at the college. Following the screening, a reception will be held in the lobby, providing an opportunity for attendees to engage with the filmmakers and reflect on the documentary’s profound message.

Both events are open to the public and free of charge, offering an opportunity for the wider community to join in paying their respects to the memory of Dr. Vladimir Munk and to learn more about his incredible journey and legacy. For additional information, please reach out to Dr. Andrew Buckser, professor of anthropology and director of the Jewish Studies program, at 518-564-3047 or via email at

This commemoration seeks to honor a remarkable individual who overcame immense adversity, contributing significantly to academia and inspiring countless individuals with his life story.

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