Leora Tec Visits Milton to Discuss Memory and the Holocaust
by Leydn McEvoy on Friday, February 24th, 2017
As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, the need to recall the unvoiced stories of victims only becomes greater. The silences and inaccuracies surrounding the Holocaust must be replaced by the multiplicity of stories from the victims. Leora Tec, the founder and director of the Bridge to Poland, an organization that showcases non-Jews memorizing Jewish life, explained how “the nuances of individual experiences vanish as the accounts of the incidents become more distant.” The Jews were liberated from the subjection of the Nazis nearly 72 years ago. However, as the number of survivors diminishes, the question now is “how will the memories of the Holocaust persist when all the survivors are gone?”
Through her experiences as a daughter of a Holocaust survivor and eminent scholar, Tec explores her mother’s accounts of the war. Many years following the war, Tec’s mother’s memories reemerged through a Holocaust memoir. After the memoir was published, Tec embarked on a deeper exploration of her family’s history. She discovered the intricate details of individual family members and their life stories.
Many victims’ stories, however, are not documented. Instead, the stories are embedded in the memories of the living. Although the stories exist, the absence of the victim spurs uncertainty about the value of the stories. As time continues to separate the Holocaust from the present, the accounts of the Holocaust fade into ancient lore and, the details of true Holocaust experiences are dismissed as false or distorted from their truths. To avoid the dismissal or distortion of events, Tec felt that “we must read history with an open mind to fully understand the details of the victims.” By considering the unforeseen events of the Holocaust and understanding their meanings, we can restore the truth of the stories and the memories.
Tec, along with two Polish scholars dedicated to preserving the memory of Jews, compiled old archives, photographs, and documents of unnamed victims in an attempt to connect the missing personal identity with the brief life stories of the victims. By assembling the individual lives of the unnamed victims, Tec reconstructed the lives of the victims, revealing their stories and experiences. Tec explained how victims’ voices live on through the people who remember their stories.
With few survivors left to commemorate the deaths of the Jews, Tec stated that if we disregard the value of the victims, “we will lose some of the humanity of those who perished and those who survived.” We must acknowledge the stories by treasuring the details and sharing the memories of the people. By recognizing the Holocaust and the victims, we highlight both the blight on the history of humanity but also the people’s stories. Tec emphasized how we must overlook the brutality of the events and how we must strive to remember the beauty of the people’s lives.
As students, we must preserve the memory of the Holocaust victims by preserving their life stories in our memories. Tec raised a concern to the audience stating, “If no one can access the memories, then do they even exist?” For the lives of the victims to persist, we must share their stories and experiences.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=8658