I returned from a lecture tour in the United States before the massacre in Pittsburgh, and I can’t shake one image from the trip. In fact, it is even more meaningful now. It’s a photograph of Holocaust survivor Gloria Ungar, at the Museum of Tolerance at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. She was sharing her story with children.
She demonstrated how a resounding educational message can be taken from a tragedy.
Several times a day, a Holocaust survivor gets up on stage at the museum and tells his or her story. Every single day, six days a week, ever since the museum first opened its doors 25 (!) years ago. A quick calculation shows that people have heard witness testimony about the Holocaust some 23,000 times there in Los Angeles. Within earshot of Hollywood and Beverly Hills, survivors stand up and tell the painful historical truth, from their personal experience.
Every single day policemen and women, teachers, social workers, judges, students and millions of tourists listen to a verbal “eternal flame” that burns and passes on the message to combat ignorance and Holocaust denial. Liebe Geft, the museum’s director is particularly proud of the new volunteers who come to tell their story: “Around 10,000 Holocaust survivors live in Los Angeles. Our team consists of 60 speakers, who are getting older. Yet I am so impressed by survivors who are coming forward now and requesting to join our team. For years they remained silent and never told their children, or even grandchildren, what they endured. And now, all of a sudden, they request to get up on stage here and tell their story to the world.”