Grandparents’ memories tie students to holocaust

The first question Holocaust survivor Eva Brettler asked during her speech for the Holocaust Remembrance assembly was “How many of you have family members who are Holocaust survivors?”

In the fifth period audience, seven hands were raised and seven different stories told. For many students, the Holocaust is not just something they read in a history text book; instead, it is embodied in the stories they have heard from relatives since childhood. For Lian Zucker ’09, it’s part of her everyday life.

“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know about it,” she said. “It’s ingrained in who I am that my family survived this monumental thing, the Holocaust.”

Her maternal grandmother and grandfather, Anika and Marcel Goldwaffer, were both saved by Oskar Schindler, a factory owner responsible for saving over 1,000 lives, while her father’s parents, Batsheva and Arie Zucker, survived based on luck and the ability to perform jobs which the Nazis needed.

“My grandmother talks about [the Holocaust] a lot,” Zucker said. “Their strength amazes me, especially with my grandma, because she can talk about it so much.”

The stories that her grandparents and parents have told her about the war have had a profound influence on her, Zucker said. It is hard for her to waste food, especially bread, knowing about how her family had to struggle to get any food during the war. She also became a big activist of spreading Holocaust stories.

For Nick Berman ’09, his trip to Poland over the summer had a bigger effect on him because of the back story he had already heard from his family.

“You can think about the things that happened here, but until you go and see the names on the walls and the boxes with the hair and the jewelry you cannot even imagine the toll it inflicted,” he said.

Berman also believes that anyone who doubts the Holocaust and the lives it took should visit the concentration camps themselves and see the destruction.

Carrie West ’08 uses her grandparent’s experiences to put her world in perspective.
All four of West’s grandparents lived through the Holocaust. One of them worked in the Auschwitz crematory and eventually sold a patent that enabled him to move to America. Her other three grandparents went into hiding and fled the country, although some of them refuse to speak about their experiences. 

“When I have obstacles in my life, they talk to me about what they went through,” West said. “They teach me about getting back up and working through all of the trials. They taught me that no matter how low you are, you can always make a life for yourself,” West said.

Zucker expressed similar sentiment, claiming that her grandparents’ experiences allow her to see her own trials in a new light.

Because of her ancestors, “I have a completely different outlook on life,” Zucker said.
“Everytime I hear their stories, I think about how I’m freaking out about my APs when they went through a real tragedy,” she said. “I don’t want to sound clichéd and say I have a completely different outlook on life, but I really do, you can’t not.”