Is Humankind Destined to Repeat Itself?

Letters of Stone

My work on this project has been completely focused on the Jewish Holocaust, perpetrated by the Nazis, headed by Adolf Hitler.  And while I am aware there have been, and continue to be, other mass genocides throughout human history, this is the one that touches me and my family personally and thus it is my starting point.  But, a recent reading of an article in Johannesburg, South Africa’s “Daily Maverick,” was a real “ah-ha” moment about how genocides can be linked one to another.

South African anthropologist Steven Robins, has recently published his family memoir which traces the story of his family who remained in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust and perished there.  What is amazing is that during his research he found some unique connections between the Holocaust and the work of Dr. Eugen Fisher, the Nazi scientist who’s “Eugenics,” study would eventually help shape Nazi policies about racial purity.  The research is fascinating in itself, but also adds context to the history of the Nazi regime and might offer some insights into the phenomenon of genocide.  Robins’ work also asks some tough questions about the plight of current refugees and what their future could hold.  Sometimes it seems mankind will not learn.  Thanks to people like Professor Robins, who is both a child of survivors and a social scientist, perhaps a different path through hatred can be forged.  Check out the article in the “Daily Maverick.”

If you or someone you know is the child of Holocaust survivors, or has a story to tell, let us know.

Sharing The Legacy In Precious Documents

Document

When my children were embarking on their journeys to Poland as part of the Ramah Seminar program, they were asked to collect and bring any family artifacts relating to the Holocaust.  My husband is in possession of his father’s papers documenting his experiences on his application for reparations from the German government.  The story is harrowing, as they all are, but we decided the time was right to share the details.  They, in turn, each shared the details with their peers during their trips.  Standing at the memorial to the Plascow camp, reading about their grandfather’s ordeal, connected them to him in a way a simple retelling never could.  My husband and I had the same experience when we made the same trip a few years ago.  We have safeguarded these documents and they are part of our family’s legacy.  Other survivor families are also the keepers of the stories and are sharing these stories with the public by donating them to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial.  And now the Museum is calling for more of these precious documents and materials to be shared so that these stories are not lost forever as time takes its toll on delicate artifacts.  This story from Florida, has some details.  Son of Holocaust survivor shares father’s story amid call for documents

If you have any family artifacts to donate, contact the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum at U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

If you, or someone you know is a child of Holocaust survivors and wish to share your story with The Peretz Project, send us an email at theperetzproject@gmail.com.

Cutting Edge Technology Helps Preserve Precious Memories

Hall of Names - Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

Hall of Names – Yad Vashem, Jerusalem

Although the generation of Holocaust survivors is dwindling, new technology means the ability to collect and preserve memories is expanding.  An article published in the University of Toronto News outlines how archivists at Yad Vashem in Israel are leading the effort to gather and document personal Holocaust information and to make it free and available to the public.  The impact of preserving these memories cannot be overstated.  One family explains how they were able to piece together their family tree and to commemorate their lost generation.  Read more in the story here.

If you have a story to share, contact The Peretz Project.  

Seeking the Light During Hanukah

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Lit menorah, Israel

Although Hanukah is a rather small holiday, celebrating one particular historic battle, it has a pretty high profile because it occurs when most of the world is celebrating their “High Holyday,” Christmas.  And yet, there are some important messages in Hanukah.  One that touches me is the idea of finding light during a dark time.  In winter the days are short and, for many, cold.  Hanukah reminds us that even during the bleakest of times we can find light and warmth in unexpected places.  I found an article that, though a bit old, resonated with me.  Heidi Molnar, a writer living in New Jersey, describes in, “Interfaith Family,” her experiences rekindling her Jewish faith and traditions after her marriage to a Catholic and the adoption of her two daughters from China.  Although Heidi has intermarried, it is precisely because of her need to grapple with the religious upbringing of her daughters that she was able to return to her faith.  She also explains that her parents, as did many Holocaust survivors, wanted to escape their Judaism.  During this dark time of year, may we all find some light and warmth.

Chag Hanukah Sameach!