Once upon a time, I was married to a gifted Austrian historian of the Shoah. We had initially met in Jerusalem in December 1998 while I was finishing up a masters degree at the University of San Francisco. An energetic, warm, and very genuine person, her passion for Jewish history captivated me. I was moved by her personal story and tireless work ethic. Her calling in life was based on the strong sense of responsibility she felt she had as a citizen of Austria, as well as her deep-seated indignation at the deeds deceased family members had committed against the Jewish people and others during the Nazi time. In pursuing Jewish studies and later a doctorate, she was via her research, confronting the dark past. Her untiring passion to give to survivors, by carefully listening to them and sharing their stories, very much resonated with me.
When she came out to join me in San Francisco in the spring of 1999, I helped her locate Holocaust survivors in the Bay Area, and we conducted interviews. Survivors spoke of their plight in Austria, and the persecution and various ordeals they had undergone during the madness of that era.
We moved to New York City in the summer of 1999 and went on to meet more survivors of the Shoah. I will always remember an adorable married couple we met in Woodhaven, Queens, she in her late 90s, he in his early 100s. They were both lucid, animated and downright funny in their manner together. I recall turning to my former spouse in their old home and imagining that this could be us in 70 years if we made it.
Recollected memories can often be like seeds. Some blossom into petaled flowers, others have thick thorns. But I remain grateful for the memories of those interview experiences and all the more so because it is becoming an ever withering reality. Fewer and fewer survivors are with us as time moves steadfastly on. Soon, in the blink of a generation, the Shoah will truly be in the realm of history. Will it be gone but not forgotten?
In the precious time that remains, I call out to all who will hear to please record, publish and/or post all that there is of historical value from that dreadful time. Your efforts will not be in vain, not as long as people continue to care.