Author: Zachary Trupp
Discussions of conservation and preservation have taken up residence on the front page of our daily lives. Environmental records and climate change; urban development and gentrification; entertainment and cultural representation; all issues that see the significance of history versus the inevitability of change. But unlike many of these issues, where our role in the fray is limited, we have an opportunity to serve as stewards of our own family’s significance to history. We have a duty to preserve the stories of those that survived and those that perished in the darkness of the worst that humanity has wrought. As the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors we must share the stories of our families.
The members of 3GNY know this and, to facilitate this important effort, created the We Educate (WEDU) program. Developed under the guidance of Facing History and Ourselves, along with support from Yad Vashem, WEDU prepares participants to better learn about their own family stories and then teach these stories to others. 3GNY, through this program, has fostered a team of grandchildren of Survivors that are regularly called upon to share their family stories in schools across New York.
Inspired by their intrepid initiative, 3GDC recently brought representatives from 3GNY for a month long WEDU training program. Me and nine other 3GDCers took part in this program. Through the course of four two-and-a-half hour courses, we shared our family histories and stories. We honed our story telling skills and crafted our presentations. We shaped our spiels to more effectively commit to memory in those that we teach the lessons of history we are there to share. And, more importantly to me, helped foster a community where we could support each other and share in the uniqueness of being the grandchild of a Holocaust Survivor. In the coming months and years, we hope to share our families’ stories with area schools to lend a more personal look into their lessons on World War II and the Holocaust.
Our extraordinary instructor from 3GNY was Farah Kraus. During one of her lessons, she shared an incredible insight on teaching these stories. To paraphrase her wise guidance, she encouraged us to stand on the foundation of our own stories, saying that her presentation is the story of her grandmother and their family. A survivor’s story is in itself an outlier when compared to the millions who aren’t around to share their stories.
My grandfather is a Holocaust survivor who volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He regularly serves as the subject of their First Person interview program to share the stories of his survival and of his family before, during, and after the war. He is often asked to share ‘final thoughts’ at the conclusion of this program. And more often than not, he shares the famous quote from philosopher George Santayana – “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
This strikes at the heart of why we took this class. It should ring true of why you subscribe to this newsletter, and why you are part of 3GDC. We are the stewards of their legacies. It is a cold, haunting thought to picture a world without our family members. Especially when those family members hold within them such vital first hand accountings of the human horrors the Holocaust. But it cannot be overstated how important it is that we learn our history and share it with others, so it is not forgotten. So that we are not condemned to repeat it.
If you know of any schools in the DC region who would benefit from a third generation Holocaust survivor speaker, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.