Acting German Consul speaks at UN Holocaust remembrance event at Newton South
Enlarge image Acting German Consul Claudia Schütt stresses today's need for respect, empathy, awareness for and protection of the individual (© Germany.info) Ostracism of human beings can and must be avoided by "always remembering respect, empathy and awareness for and protection of the individual,” emphasized Acting German Consul Claudia Schütt in her speech on the occasion of the United Nations International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust on January 27, 2012.
Traditionally, the Boston chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) organizes an hour of commemoration where Holocaust survivors are invited to bare witness of their personal experiences and local political representatives deliver an address.
Given that this year’s commemoration was especially dedicated to the child victims of the Holocaust, the solemn gathering was held in the auditorium of Newton South High School where more than 250 high school students as well as many Holocaust survivors had assembled.
Enlarge image Remarks by Newton Mayor Setti Warren who is active in promoting ethnic, racial, and religious equality (© Germany.info) After warm welcomes by Principal of Newton South High School Joel Stembridge and Executive Director of JCRC Jeremy Burton, Newton Mayor Setti Warren spoke and commemorated the liberation of the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz, the event that marked the end of the Shoah. Then, the Consul General of Israel to New England Shai Bazak warned that it is a duty never to forget the Holocaust, and pointed out that even today, Israeli Jews still face new problems.
This was followed by a touching recitation by high school students from the diaries and poems of Jewish children, thus giving voice to these particularly defenceless, vulnerable and innocent victims of Nazi injustice. These testimonials of their grief and fear, their incomprehension for the discrimination and their endeavour to gather courage, moved the audience deeply.
Enlarge image Boston City Councilor Michael Ross highlights the contemporary relationship between Germany and the Jewish community (© Germany.info) After a brief introduction by Boston City Councilor Michael Ross, himself the son of a Holocaust survivor, Acting Consul Claudia Schütt described her own dismay and bewilderment in the face of the systematic injustice and fanaticism of the Third Reich and repeated Germany’s commitment to its historical responsibility toward the Jewish people. She emphasized her gratitude toward the Jewish community for their “willingness to enter into dialogue, to listen, to visit her country, to look, to judge openly and for themselves how Germany is dealing with its past and how it keeps striving for an open, pluralistic and inclusive society where hatred and ostracism are allowed no room whatsoever”.
Enlarge image Child survivor group founder Frieda Grayzel gives a moving testemonial on her childhood in Nazi concentration camps (© Germany.info) Holocaust survivor and founder of a child survivor group Frieda Grayzel spoke last and gave a personal account about her tragic childhood. Not a single sound was heard from the audience as she described herself at 10 years old facing unfathomably cruel conditions in the concentration camps she and her family members were held captive in. She also testified about her sadness and despair over the loss of family members and how she painfully learned to overcome these traumatic experiences after emigrating to the US. Frieda Grayzel merits great respect and gratitude for her activism and courage in standing up repeatedly to share and remember her painful biography. She admirably used her testimony to encourage the students to trust in their own resilience and capacity to cope with traumatizing events.
At the end of this solemn gathering, Elyse Rast from the JCRC promoted the sixth annual Israel Arbeiter Holocaust Essay Contest to the students present. The contest is named after Israel Arbeiter, a Holocaust survivor who holds an Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and is the President of the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Greater Boston. He tirelessly works to educate the public about this dark chapter of history. The German Consulate General of Boston financially supports the contest. Four- to eight-hundred word essays written by students in grades 6 through 12 on the topic "Teaching Tolerance" can be submitted to the JCRC Boston.