BEXLEY, Ohio (WCMH) — Day by day, the world is getting further away from when the Holocaust happened. The sad reality is survivors are getting older and one day, will not be around to tell their own stories.
That’s where keeping their memories alive comes in.
A discussion about that very topic took place at Capital University Tuesday.
In central Ohio, there are more than 200 Holocaust survivors.
Daniel Mendelsohn has talked to survivors around the world for his book, hoping young people here talk to survivors in our area.
Mendelsohn spent five years traveling the world talking to Holocaust survivors who knew his family members who were killed.
“I got to a point in my life where I wasn’t satisfied saying, ‘Oh, they were killed by the Nazis,’” Mendelsohn said.
His great aunt, great uncle, and four cousins were all killed in Poland. In his book, The Lost: A Search For Six of Six Million, he talks with 12 Holocaust survivors from his family’s hometown.
The book was released in 2006; those 12 survivors have since died.
“This event is going to pass from living memory very soon,” Mendelsohn said. “The people who were part of it, who were affected, who lived through it, they’re very, very old right now, so I think that puts an enormous burden of responsibility on us.”
According to Jewish Family Services, there are 203 Holocaust survivors who live in central Ohio.
“We are losing the generation that experienced this,” said Michele Bernstein, a social worker with Jewish Family Services. “They’re not going to be around forever, so for us to be able to hear their stories and share their stories is incredibly important.”
Mendelsohn is trying to make sure that happens. His discussion Tuesday focused on keeping survivors’ memories alive, pointing out that one day they will no longer be memories, but stories.
“There are so few people alive who are actually part of this,” he said. “It’s in danger of becoming abstracted. It’s in danger of losing the fine-grained human reality, the little things people remember, and that, to me, is very anguishing.”
Mendelsohn said from survivors he’s talked to, their biggest fear is people forgetting what happened to them and everyone they knew.