Today, January 27, is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD). This day brings the voices of the last of the survivors and further generations of survivors to the forefront. It provides us the opportunity for meaningful and timely conversations about the lasting impacts of the Holocaust and our shared responsibility to reject antisemitism, hatred, and bigotry of all forms in our day.
As we embark on the 77th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from Nazi concentration camps, it is more important than ever that we remember and continue to learn from the Holocaust. As a third-generation Holocaust survivor, I want to express my passion for never forgetting what my grandparents, Mama and Papa, endured. My generation represents a unique population in the sense that, while far enough removed from the trauma for it to be considered the past, we are simultaneously representing the future and represent the last living link to survivors.
It is critical that my generation continues to be involved in Holocaust remembrance, which is why I share my grandparents’ story via a 1996 interview with my grandmother. This treasure is part of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum repository in Atlanta, GA. Though their story is full of sadness and horror, Mama and Papa never ever had a bitter bone in their bodies. Their hearts were filled with gratitude for their riches – their family. They chose to beautifully live their lives with the mantra that we are all more alike than different. After all, we all seek comfort, family devotion, a sense of belonging, acceptance, and love.
I am so proud of my grandparents’ legacy – one of integrity, one of putting forth hard, honest work in order to thrive, and a deep commitment and love for family and friends. In their lifetime, Mama and Papa had done so much to ensure that the world does not forget the atrocity of the Holocaust, and I proudly choose to carry on their desire to educate. While I remember the Holocaust through my family’s story, it is important for everyone who was not there, or whose family members were not survivors themselves, to learn about what happened during those dark years of human existence. We must never take our freedom and security for granted.
I commemorate not just my grandparents’ enduring strength during one of history’s darkest hours but also the people they became, the lives they led, and their unlimited love for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. May their memory continue to be a blessing, and may their example continue to live on – and inspire action – in each of us.