A recent survey conducted by the Claims Conference reveals that over two-thirds of millennials have never heard of Auschwitz, and half could not name a single concentration camp or ghetto. When I read about the survey, I told myself that I must do something to increase the awareness of what happened during the Holocaust.
As the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, I’m well aware of the importance of remembering the atrocities that occurred in order to ensure that a second Holocaust will never occur. In order to do so, I created the “Humans of the Holocaust” project to tell the human story of the survivors, their children and Jews around the world who are still affected by antisemitism.
Humans of the Holocaust is a very powerful project. The stories that I’ve collected for the exhibition are Inspiring and optimistic. It’s not a “classic Holocaust” project, but rather a project that makes you want to engage with the human story behind it. It’s an optimistic project where you can see how the human spirit can overcome the direst of times. It has a global message where you don’t have to be Jewish in order to engage with it.
In Humans of the Holocaust, you will find the stories of:
Dugo Litner, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Photographed posing with a yellow-colored balloon in the shape of a Jewish star, the word “Jude” written on it. Dogo reveals how his sense of humor helped him survive the atrocities he experienced and witnessed in the death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. He goes on to explain why he chose to pose as he did: “I am taking ownership of the symbol that turned me into a subhuman and turning it into an optimistic and smiling creation…”
Leila Jabarin acknowledges that her story is so “insane,” she fears people might not believe it. Born in a concentration camp in Hungary, she was hidden with her Jewish family for two years by a German doctor. After immigrating to Israel, she fell in love, at age 15, with a Muslim Arab. She subsequently converted to Islam, married him and moved to the northern Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, where she lives to this day. “Moses, Mohammed and Jesus can all coexist…”
Eva Mozes Kor, Mengele survivor who preached forgiveness of Nazis: “Once I realized that I had the power to forgive him, it was more important to me that I had power even over Mengele… it clears the air for the survivor. The survivor doesn’t have to cope with the pain and the bad memories. You cannot go on remembering and remembering all the bad things. Remembering all the bad things creates a lot of pain and anger in the survivor. So that has been cleared. Also, it indicates clearly that the survivor does have some power over his or her life. That is very important to realize that we are not helpless anymore.”
Yehuda Saporta, one of 510 Thessalonikian Jews saved by Sebastián Romero Radigales, the Spanish consul in Greece during the war years: “Radigales was a lighthouse shining brightly through one of the darkest periods in the history of mankind. There is a saying in Jewish tradition, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.” Radigales hadn’t just saved one life – he saved 510 lives. I will forever cherish his memory and good deeds.”
Zippora Singer, “What the Nazis did to me and to my people will not be forgotten as long as I live, but as an optimistic person I feel obliged to share two lessons I had learned back then: that it is our duty to help peoples and human beings in trouble, and that the human spirit can be found even within the depth of evil.”
Bat Sheva Dagan (Holocaust survivor, educator, and author) – “At the beginning of my career, I was a kindergarten teacher. The children saw the number tattooed on my forearm and started asking questions… I decided to tell it my own way – to evade the atrocities and focus on the human spirit. I told them about friendships, about people helping each other, and especially about the conscious choice we have in life – the choice between good and bad… I think every holocaust survivor is a Happy End in itself.”
These are just some of the stories you can read about in In Humans of the Holocaust. To read more and to see the photographs of the survivors, please visit The Humans of The Holocaust website.