The Legacy of the Holocaust

Last weekend I attended my first World Federation Conference of Child Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants.

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Waiting at the Sacramento Airport with friends

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Flying into Burbank Airport

Eleven members of the 2 Gen group from Sacramento participated.

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Photographer at the conference is documenting survivors and descendents for a project

About 600 attendees sat down to meals at the Marriott.

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So many enjoying a meal together. Plenty to eat, plenty to talk about!

The almost 600 attendees participated in many workshops, some panel discussions, dancing, and plenty of good food.

We gather for dinner with friends.

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You can’t be serious! (Kidding.  I didn’t actually listen to conversation)

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It’s all good.

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A 4 day information packed conference with many workshop choices for each generation

The second generation made up the largest group. There is an age difference between the survivors who were over 16 at the end of the war, and those who were under 16 years old at the end of 1945. The personal stories varied, the impact of the Holocaust differed, and the perceptions proved dissimilar.

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Second Generation group broke up into smaller groups after the introductions.

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Candle lighting ceremony

Sarah Moskovitz is honored for her work with child survivors

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Here my friend visits with Sarah

We listened to the lawyer who represented the family in the real life story of Woman in Gold.  

After food the tables are moved out of the way and it is time to dance. Everyone gets into the action.

On the last day after the closing ceremony we went to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. This is a small museum with a lot of information.

I connected with my cousin who I have not seen in at least 46 years. It was a very, very short visit, but at least there was at least a reconnection.

After the convention I tried to talk to my mother. She is feeling very alone right now. After 69 years together with my Dad she is alone. Recently I discovered a letter she wrote to her Uncle Lazar Kahan in Shanghai after the war. Unaware that he passed away right after the war ended the letter was given back to my mother probably by his wife, Shoshana. In the letter she described her terrible journey. Before the age of 19 my mother endured the arrest and murder by the Nazis of my grandfather, Israel Kahan, journalist and owner of Lodzer Nachrichten, moving into the Lodz Ghetto with her mother, and its liquidation in August 1944. My mother and Grandmother were transported to Auschwitz August 1944 where they were separated and my Grandmother was gassed. My mother was sent to work camps as slave labor and ended up in Bergen Belsen. The English liberated the camp in May 1945, but not before she endured death marches trying to stay one step ahead of the Allies.  Liberation, a brief stay in Sweden to recuperate, and a ship brought her to New York. War is over and everyone wants to move on. No psychological help is offered, no knowledge of PTSD. The letter she writes demonstrates that very real damage has been done. Alone, feeling guilty, seeing life without hourly fears, having no support system my mother poured out her feelings in this letter. A couple of months later my Dad enters her life, and she finds a quiet understanding. And then time to start living, start a family, and participate in the American dream.

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Alina and Arthur pose in May 2016, a couple of months before my Dad’s passing

Both my parents gave testimony in the Shoah project started by Steven Spielberg. This is my family legacy.

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