We had a HUGE crowd for this program on a Wednesday evening. At a time when there are fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors living, I felt strongly that we needed to give our community the opportunity to hear about this horrific historical event from a first-perspective. It also worked out really well to offer this program as just recently the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia was vandalized with 75-100 headstones being toppled over and damaged like many other Jewish cemeteries across America.
We were able to partner with the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center in Philadelphia. The Education Director came out to our library and provided a 10-15 minute overview of the Holocaust with a PowerPoint slideshow including photographs and then he introduced, Dave Tuck, a Holocaust survivor – he was sent to a concentration camp at the age of 12 and was later liberated on May 5, 1945 and then immigrated to America in 1950. At the time of his liberation, he weighed only 78 pounds, a concept that is horrific and almost unbelievable, if not for the proof standing in front of you. What amazed me the most was Dave Tuck’s view on life after living through such a horrible time – he was married for a number of years to, clearly the love of his life, has a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren and spends his time talking with school groups and groups like the one at the library; sharing his memories so as to not have something like this ever happen again.
I would strongly suggest that if you are able to offer a program like this at your library, you do it. Sharing first-person history truly makes history come alive and reminds us that if the old adage, “history repeats itself” we make sure that the right parts of history are repeated and others never, ever happen again.