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Remembering Holocaust Survivours

7 Sep 2020

Natasha Hertz

Remembering Holocaust Survivours

As students, we can sometimes find it hard to relate to events that seemed to have happened many years ago. However, I strongly believe that it is our role, as Jewish and Non-Jewish students, to educate others about the monstrosities of the past and keep the victims’ memories alive.


The Holocaust was the systematic persecution of 6 million Jews, organized by the Nazi State and its collaborators. By 1939, Jews had been in Europe for more than 2,000 years. The mass murder of Jews began in 1941 with “mobile killing units”, which executed 1.3 million Jews in Eastern Europe. Deeming this method inefficient, Nazi authorities undertook the creation of Concentration Camps, which murdered Jews in the most inhumane ways like gas chambers.


A survivor’s story that has always resonated with me is Gina Turgel’s story. Gina sadly passed away in 2018. She was 16 when the Holocaust started, and she survived three camps, including Auschwitz Birkenau as well as a gas chamber. The SS shot one of her brothers in the ghetto, another fled and was never seen again. As well as this, her sister and her husband were shot after being caught trying to smuggle food into the Płaszów labour camp. Whilst she was in Auschwitz Birkenau, she nursed Anne Frank.


Gina wrote a book called ‘I Light A Candle’. Journalist Deanna Paul profoundly explained that ‘As survivors become endangered, and their flames extinguish, they rely on the next generation to not only light new candles but also to bear witness — for both the dead and the living’.


The wounds of the Holocaust are still healing. Still, it is our obligation as students to educate on the stories and memories of victims. Survivor Edith Eger (who wrote the book ‘The Choice’) profoundly stated “Our painful experiences aren’t a liability—they’re a gift. They give us perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and our strength.” The atrocious events of the past should give us perspective on how to live our lives in the future.


By acknowledging the power of our voices, we can achieve great things. Instead of engaging in hateful arguments, we can engage in educational conversations. Many oral testimonies can be found on the Internet, which bear witness to the atrocities.

After reading this article, I would like to ask you to read a story of one survivor and tell someone about it. By telling their story, even to one person, you are relighting a flame that has been extinguished for a very long time.

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