See­ing and sur­viv­ing the un­think­able

Sackville Tribune - - TANTRAMAR -

The head­line was sur­pris­ing — “Holo­caust is fad­ing from mem­ory, sur­vey finds.”

That was in the New York Times. There were sim­i­lar head­lines in USA To­day, NBC News, and other ma­jor U.S. me­dia out­lets.

The sto­ries in­di­cated many Amer­i­can adults lacked ba­sic knowl­edge of what hap­pened – the deaths of six mil­lion Jew­ish peo­ple at the hands of Nazi Ger­many and its col­lab­o­ra­tors. Even though U.S. peo­ple didn’t have a depth of knowl­edge about the Holo­caust, they still be­lieved ed­u­ca­tion about it was im­por­tant.

There have also been sur­veys in Canada in­di­cat­ing a lack of Holo­caust knowl­edge, and an in­ter­est in con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion about it. A re­cent Cana­dian poll, com­mis­sioned by the Friends of Si­mon Wiesen­thal Cen­ter and con­ducted by Nanos Re­search, found sim­i­lar at­ti­tudes to­wards Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tion in this coun­try – 78 per cent of 1,000 peo­ple sur­veyed thought per­pet­u­at­ing the mem­ory of the Holo­caust was im­por­tant.

To fur­ther in­form read­ers and en­sure the Holo­caust doesn’t fade from mem­ory, writ­ers from across At­lantic Canada be­gan started work­ing on this se­ries. The goal was to in­ter­view the re­gion’s re­main­ing Holo­caust sur­vivors – there are few still liv­ing – about their ex­pe­ri­ences or to speak with the chil­dren of sur­vivors about what their par­ents told them.

As those sto­ries were be­ing com­piled, Philip Rite­man passed away. A Pol­ish Auschwitz sur­vivor, Rite­man spent the last three decades of his life ed­u­cat­ing At­lantic Cana­di­ans about the Holo­caust. It was an ob­vi­ous and im­me­di­ate choice to ded­i­cate this project to him.

Hope­fully, our sto­ries, both in print and on the web, over the next five edi­tions will en­hance knowl­edge of the Holo­caust among cur­rent and fu­ture read­ers and peo­ple will gain last­ing in­sight from the in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ences of these char­ac­ters of strength.

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