NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With the Jewish people to once again celebrate their survival with Passover, a New York City group hopes that we will never forget about the Holocaust, so we can say “never again.”
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At an age when most young women in America are dreaming about the prom and going off to college, Leora Klein’s grandmother was in the hands of the Nazis.
“I talk about that march, that death march that they took from Hungary to Austria and how in the freezing, freezing cold of a European winter my grandmother walked, as an 18-year-old girl with no winter boots, no down jacket, no Uggs, and marched and saw people next to her die,” said Klein.
Klein and Dan Brooks are co-founders of the non-profit 3GNY. The 3G stands for third generation, as in third generation Holocaust survivor – the grandchildren of those who lived through one of the most horrific events in human history.
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“Our generation is in a very unique position in that we are primarily the last generation to know survivors,” Brooks told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams.
His grandmother wrote a memoir.
“Throughout the war they were actually on the run together, passing themselves off as Christians. And their families were completely killed. My grandmother actually smuggled herself into the Warsaw ghetto to check on family that was still there,” he said.
3GNY started in 2005 as a discussion group.
Today, the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, among their many initiatives and activities, tell their grandparents’ stories to school children.
“There’s a disconnect between the words on the page in a history book and the reality that this history happened. Our younger faces create the opportunity for young students to understand that what we’re talking about is not ancient history,” said Klein.
In running the WEDU, or We Educate program, Klein feels a tremendous responsibility.
“How are we going to remember when those that survived are not there to remember with us? Because it’s a very complicated question. How do you remember something you did not experience? How do you remember something you cannot fathom?” she said.
“And so I think the Holocaust will seem more remote and thus the stories will seem a little more distant and perhaps lost and that is what gives us the motivation, the impetus, to capture these stories, to make sure that they’re not forgotten,” said Brooks.
In addition to the WEDU initiative, 3GNY has happy hours and seasonal dinners, the winter one taking place at a Congregation Habonim on the Upper West Side back in January. At that event, Holocaust survivor John Keller of Mainz, Germany told his story and what it was like to survive Kristallnacht – the night of broken glass. Hundreds attended that event, with many attending Shabbat evening services beforehand.
They also organize outings to Holocaust-related film and theater.
Just last week, an event was held where the June Hersh, author of “Recipes Remembered, A Celebration of Survival,” spoke about gathering the dishes that Holocaust survivors grew up with and brought over from Europe.
Do you know someone who survived the Holocaust? Please feel free to share their story below.