Tales Of Two Survivors
The Breman Institute's Summer Course Teaching The Holocaust has come to an end. It was amazing. If you have the opportunity to spend a week in this course, I highly recommend it. The staff was top-notch, experts in their field, friendly to the umpteenth degree. The time is valuable and every moment is crammed with learning and activities. Even lunch is spent with survivors and conversations about the material. Most importantly for me was the ability to interact and ask questions. Open discussions were encouraged and so when you are able to ask survivors or people at the Yad Vashem questions directly, your horizons are broadened.
The above picture is our final class picture. The elderly man in the middle is Hershel Greenblat who as a kid spent his first years living in a cave in Ukraine. Then he went to a displaced persons camp for five years before ending up in the States.
His parents aided the partisans, his mother being wounded in a firefight, but managed to also come stateside where they settled in the poorest section of Atlanta and started a small grocery that soon prospered.
One detail I found interesting about Mr Greenblat was the role his father played in Atlanta. The Holocaust experience transformed the family into becoming missionaries for equality. Hate kills and the best way to avoid future genocides is to eradicate hate. The Greenblat store was a hub in the black community and soon Mr. Greenblat was close friends with M.L.K. Listening to Mr. Greenblat speak of this special relationship was very moving.
Earlier in the week there was another survivor from France. Her name was Manuela Bornstein. She and her sister are in the States thanks to a little village called Le Got which openly hid her family from the Nazis during WWII. The tale of leaving Paris for Vichy France, illegally boarding trains, sneaking across borders in the dead of night, hiding in a house with Resistance Fighters, is quite the tale. Her sister wrote a book about their experiences which can be had through the Breman Museum Gift shop.
One thing I should add. These survivors - like all survivors - are in their 80's or 90's. But I know tons of 30 and 40 year olds who aren't half as spry as these people. I felt fortunate to be able to listen to their experiences while the opportunity afforded itself. If you the chance to see one of these people - or any survivor - presents itself, by all means grab it.