“Something That Belongs to You” by Dr. Roald Hoffmann ’55

A group of students, alumni, and faculty from Stuyvesant High School are joining together to hold a reading of the play Something that Belongs to You by Dr. Roald Hoffmann ’55, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor.

The play tells the story of Frieda Pressner and her son Emile, who survived the Holocaust in German-occupied Poland by hiding in the attic of a Ukrainian schoolhouse. Set in both 1992 Philadelphia and during World War II-era Ukraine,  the play explores the shades of grey that characterized interpersonal relationships during the Holocaust and aims to examine what it meant to be a rescuer, a collaborator, a perpetrator, and a victim.

Dr. Hoffmann was born in Złoczów, Poland (today Zolochiv, Ukraine) to a Polish-Jewish family. Dr. Hoffmann, his mother Clara, and several of their relatives survived the Holocaust after Mykola Dyuk, a Ukranian schoolteacher, and his wife Mariya hid them in their attic from January 1943 to June 1944. In this way, “Something that Belongs to You” is semi-autobiographical.

While at Stuyvesant, Dr. Hoffmann won a Westinghouse science scholarship. He graduated from Columbia University in 1958, earned a PhD from Harvard University in 1962, and joined the faculty of Cornell University in 1965. Dr. Hoffmann is one of two recipients of the 1981 Nobel Prize in chemistry.


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