A phrase frequently associated with the Holocaust is “Never Forget.” It’s become more poignant as the majority of the survivors of those terrible times are now no longer with us. While we may eventually gain some intellectual understanding of the events, emotionally engaging with such a monstrous event is difficult without some kind of personal connection.
As the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I can claim a certain personal connection. I am deeply aware of how improbable it is that I even exist. My mother is a Hungarian-American Jew who was born in Budapest in 1944. During her infancy, my grandfather was in a camp, and my grandmother sought safety and shelter for herself and my mother in various safe houses established by the Red Cross and by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.
Of course, my mother has no memory of those days, and sadly, my brave grandmother died shortly after I was born. My grandfather survived the camps, and when I was a teenager, he tried to share some of his experiences with me. He died about 10 years ago, and now those memories are lost, too. My grandfather’s one surviving friend (who herself was dramatically saved by Raoul Wallenberg’s intervention) is in her 90s.
Soon, there will be no one left to share a first-person account, and so much has already been forgotten. All we will have is the historical record and the mass of personal narratives left behind by those who could serve as witnesses. As the Holocaust recedes into the past, we must do what we can to continue to make it real, to understand how genocide occurs and to learn how we can stop atrocities occurring today and in the future.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Congress has officially set aside the entire week of April 19 to remember the events of the Holocaust. FindingDulcinea has created a Web page of resources to help you learn and share information about the Holocaust. Forge your own connection, however tenuous it may be. Help make sure we will not forget.