In commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, B’nai B’rith International held a cross-generational discussion at the German consulate in New York, and multiple memorial events throughout Latin America.
The New York program, titled “Zachor: Holocaust Memory Across Generations, An Inter-Generational Dialogue on the Shoah and its Legacy,” focused on the role children and grandchildren of survivors play in teaching future generations about the Shoah.
“No one is better equipped to debunk the lies of so-called revisionist ‘historians’ than those who witnessed first-hand, and survived the most systematic and documented genocide in history,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said in his opening remarks. “No less: with the coming of new generations, it increasingly falls to the progeny of the survivors, and to all of us, to bear witness.”
Ambassador Busso von Alvensleben, consul general of Germany, said that Germans “feel united with the Jewish people and the survivors of the Shoa in particular in our common mission of ‘never again.’ Israel’s security has become part of Germany’s raison d’etre.”
Sam Widawsky, who was deported to Auschwitz and a series of labor camps connected to Dachau, spoke at the event. He learned after the war that his entire family was murdered by the Nazis. His oldest son David also spoke, saying that children of survivors wore their status as a badge of honor and distinction. While only survivors can speak with authority about the Holocaust, he said, children, grandchildren, educators and all Jews must partner to continue Holocaust education and remembrance when survivors are no longer alive.
Leora Klein, grandchild of four Holocaust survivors, shared her childhood story of learning about her grandparents’ trauma, which led to her formation of 3GNY (Third Generation New York)—an educational non-profit organization that brings together grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.
This program preceded the official United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, which B’nai B’rith representatives also attended. B’nai B’rith played an active role in the United Nations’ adoption of the Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005.
Throughout Latin America B’nai B’rith held Holocaust commemorations, including in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
In Ecuador, the commemoration honored Manuel Antonio Muñoz Borrero, the former Ecuadorian consul in Stockholm, for his contribution in saving the lives of Polish Jews who were persecuted during World War II. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was the keynote speaker at one of the events in Brazil.
Since 2006, B’nai B’rith Latin America has conducted Holocaust remembrance programs to teach the larger society outside the Jewish community about the Holocaust. Due in part to B’nai B’rith’s efforts such programs have gained national and regional prominence.
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