It’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. Yom Ha’Shoah, the day we remember those who perished at the hands of the Nazis during World War II. This year the day comes on the heels of my first trip to the United States Holocaust Museum. I have never been until a couple of weeks before. As I went through I was reminded once again at how easily hatred can turn to pure evil. The images presented I had seen before, but to have them all gathered in one place was sobering, moving. The display of shoes touched me and my students, especially when we happened to spot a tiny pair of baby shoes near the glass. Walking through the corridors lined with the photographs of whole towns and villages that were decimated, I was saddened once again. I walked on cobblestones from The Warsaw Ghetto, stood in a cattle car and comforted the students who were with me. The moment when I broke into tears came almost at the end of the tour when I came upon a wall filled with children’s artwork from Terezin. So much of my professional life has been tied up in teaching and writing about Terezin and those very works of art. Listening to the survivor videos at the end brought back memories of my friend Sonia who survived the Holocaust but died a few years ago. Before she died I made a promise to her that I would be the person to tell her story when she was gone. I have, but I will attempt to epxress her bravery once more. Sonia survived several camps, including the infamous Plazow (the one in Schindler’s List). Her book, I Promised I Would Tell, chronicles her struggle. She and her sister managed to survive. In the book she includes her poetry about her experiences. Of those the most moving was “Victory” which tells of her last few moments with her father. She had sneaked into the men’s barracks to visit him and while a boy played a tune on a harmonica he had hidden, she and her father had their first and only dance. A week later he was gone. Sonia is gone, but I still remember her. I promised I would tell and I do.
On Friday I will watch one of my students be honored for winning the GA Commission On The Holocaust’s Art Contest. Here is her beautiful and moving work of art:
I am not Jewish, but I am moved by The Holocaust. I teach the lessons of tolerance gleaned from studying this terrible time in history. I want others to know what happened and not forget.
You can read my books Terezin Twilight and When The Butterflies Flew Away if you want to learn more about Terezina and The Holocaust in general. http://www.booksbylynnmurphy.com
Light a candle to night in memory of those who perished. Tell someone what happened. Lest we all forget.