Thursday, January 29, 2015

Generations gather in honour of Auschwitz survivors

Some 180 people of all ages gathered Jan. 27 at the Jacob Family Theatre at Toronto's Baycrest Centre  to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

It was heart-warming to see how important Holocaust education is to people young and old, and how relevant they find it is to their heritage and personal identity to commit to learning retelling survivors' stories.

Eli Wiesel once said that when you listen to a witness, you become a witness.

Lauren Collins
Everyone was captivated by the multimedia presentation recognizing the 70th anniversary of the death camp's liberation and honouring three of its survivors.

From Helena Jokel's short film We Sang in Hushed Voice to the reading of an excerpt from Anna Molnar Hegedus memoir As The Lilacs Bloomed, exquisitely rendered by Canadian actress Lauren Collins, and John Freund's reading from his biography Spring's End, there was absolute silence as the audience paid rapt attention to all those on stage.

The event was hosted by Elin Beaumont of the Azrieli Foundation and co-sponored by JUMP (Jewish Urban Meeting Place). Following the singing of Hatikvah, Rabbi Joel Wardinger, JUMP's director, invited the survivors present to light a candle with Beaumont, and then invited the children and grandchildren of survivors to do the same in remembrance of all those who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis.

The imperative to remember and never forget does indeed seem to be in good hands.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In the year 1942, when thousands of Jews were being murdered every day in the extermination camps and in the shtetels (Operation Reinhard) of Nazi occupied Europe, a gay Englishman by the name of Allan Turing was developing a code breaking machine so that the Allies could spy on the Germans. The Turing Machine cracked the German Enigma Code by the end of that year. According to the historical note at the end of the movie "The Imitation Game", the Turing Machine shortened the war by about two years and saved an estimated 14 million lives.

What if Turing had not developed his code breaking machine and the war had lasted until 1947? It would have given the Nazis an extra two years to round up more Jews, especially in Hungary, Roumania, Bulgaria, France and Italy. The UK might have been occupied for a time resulting in more deportations. Jews of mixed race (mischlings) in Germany and other occupied countries would also have been deported to the camps. More Jews in hiding would have been found by catchers (griefers) like Stella Goldschlag. More Jewish partisans in the forests of Eastern Europe would have been killed. Camp survivors who were liberated in 1945 would not have survived until 1947 under the brutal conditions in which they were living e.g. Elie Weisel in Buchenwald.

70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, it is time for all Jews and their synagogues and other institutions to recognize their gay Jewish relatives, co-workers and neighbors as equals.