This Holocaust Memorial Day, the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors share what they want the world to know
Today, 27th January 2022, marks Holocaust Memorial Day.
“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
These are the words of Elie Wiesel, a Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He, along with 1.3 million other Jews, was held prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, and he was also one of only 200,000 (approx) Jews who survived it.
Elie went on to write a number of books about his own personal story and that of the Holocaust (also known as ‘the Shoah’ in Hebrew) in general, and his works — along with the likes of Primo Levi (author of If This Is A Man) and Anne Frank, whose diary is famous across the world — are some of the most defining stories of that era. They are books I would implore everyone to read, especially as a 2021 study found that over half of Britons did not know that six million Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust, and less than a quarter thought that two million or fewer were killed.
And though it is easy to leave history in the past, events like The Holocaust must be remembered — they must be remembered out of respect for those who lost their lives, for those who overcame the most severe form of persecution and went on to become productive members of the communities in which they settled and for those who are yet to even step foot on this planet. We must, as Elie Wiesel says, “bear witness” to these events, and pass their stories and their lessons onto the next generation, so that we can avoid such horrors happening again.
So, to mark Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January) and to share the humbling words of those who overcame one of the darkest times in human history so that we might give them the time and respect they so deserve, I spoke to the children and grandchildren of five Holocaust survivors — who now dedicate their time to presents their families’ stories across a range of audiences (including within schools and community organisations), promoting tolerance of all groups in society via Generation2Generation — so that they could pass on their family member’s message to the world.
Their survival is an example of the human spirit’s ability to adapt, rebuild and recover from genocide. As people who have seen the dark side of humanity, they provide hope and set an example for anyone who is experiencing a traumatic life event.
Below, you’ll find the stories of these extraordinary people (which can be read in full via the G2G website), and the lessons we must take from them. It does not make for easy reading and their lives might seem incomprehensible to us now, as we sit in safety in our homes, but, somehow, these lessons are relevant to each and every single one of us.
5 lessons the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors want the world to learn today
Jacqueline Luck, granddaughter of Holocaust survivor Lela Black
Lela Black, nee Amiel, was born in 1918 in Salonica, where she lived happily alongside other Jews, Christians and Muslims, before moving to Athens. When the Germans occupied Athens in 1943, Lela went into hiding. A year later, after being denounced and incarcerated at the Haidari military camp, they were transported to Auschwitz in cattle trucks, with thousands of other Greek Jews.