appears 2nd from right in the photo seen here)
I participated in the Holocaust Remembrance Project of 2004, writing about the stealthy, yet predictable ways in which modern-day genocides develop, and lamenting governments’ lack of will to act decisively in the face of these signs. While I greatly expanded my knowledge of modern-day human catastrophes in doing research for the paper, the core of the project for me was the trip to Washington.
There, I got to meet 10 remarkable students, all of whom combined the normal hectic life of high school students with grace and a sense of humor (we invented a game called Tipsy, which involved tipping a paper cup into the air and keeping it from hitting the floor for as long as possible); their teachers, whose wisdom and encouragement I will never forget, and of course, the survivors.
These fascinating people, who at our age were
faced with more horror than is seen by whole generations, not only bore
witness to the atrocities committed by the Nazis, but through their own
example, showed how individuals can persevere over them and triumph over
evil. Having heard their stories, who can forget Leo’s leap from an
Auschwitz-bound train, Irene’s secret Yom Kippur fast at Auschwitz,
Henry’s endurance through a death march, Peter’s memorialization of the
horror around him in his diary, or Alice’s migration on a
Kindertransport to an entirely foreign land? Moreover, when one
experiences their vivacity, the love and pride that they feel for their
families, their wisdom and knowledge (most of them know at least three
languages) that far surpasses those of most, and the extent to which
they have added to the lives of others after the end of the war, one
sees every moment of their life as a victory over death.