FOR years, American-based Holocaust survivor and psychotherapist Dr Edith Eger was encouraged to pen a book.
Initially reluctant, she finally agreed when Stanford University’s Professor Philip Zimbardo observed that the famous Holocaust survivors are men, Eger shared at the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies’ (JBOD) Kristallnacht commemoration on Tuesday in conversation with facilitator and mediator Joanna Kalowski.
Recalling her exchange with Zimbardo, Eger said the professor told her, “I have to be the female voice for Viktor Frankl.”
At age 90, Eger wrote The Choice, an account of her experiences in the Holocaust, and the lessons she gleaned from enduring such trauma.
Reiterating Eger’s message and referencing Frankl’s famous line, ‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space, and in that space, is our power to choose our response’, JBOD CEO Vic Alhadeff commented, “Every one of us has the opportunity to fill that space, every one of us has the obligation to become an agent who helps bridge the gap from memory to history.”
Survivors Eddie Jaku, Ruth Rack and the late Herbert Freeman each witnessed the devastation caused by Kristallnacht, and shared their chilling recollections.
“At the turn of the century my maternal grandfather came from Krakow, Poland, to Germany with his first baby, my mother, because he wanted to raise his family in a civilised society,” said Rack.
But civil order turned to chaos, and Rack recalled the terrifying sight of seeing a local synagogue on fire, surrounded by smoke.
On the last kindertransport, Rack left Leipzig for England in May 1939, aged 11, never to see her parents again.
Lighting a candle on behalf of survivors and their families and those who perished, CEO of the Sydney Jewish Museum Norman Seligman remarked, “Holocaust survivors have been the heart and soul of the Sydney Jewish Museum since its inception 28 years ago.
“They have shared their testimony and their memory with hundreds of thousands of students and adults to ensure the Holocaust and those murdered are never forgotten.”
Affirming her solidarity with the Jewish community, Premier Gladys Berejiklian remarked, “We stand with you in remembering every single victim, every single Jew who experienced the worst in humanity.”