The 10th anniversary of March of Remembrance Texas was held on Sunday, May 1, in Kingwood, Texas. Rozalie Jerome, Holocaust Museum Houston Warren fellow and second-generation survivor of Hungarian Jewish parents, along with March of Remembrance Texas and a volunteer team of more than 50, hosted Holocaust survivor Edith Jucker as the keynote speaker for the opening ceremonies.
Although the Jucker family, founders and owners of the iconic Three Brothers Bakery, have been a recognized name in Houston for decades, Jucker never shared her story publicly until this year’s Remembrance event.
Sensitively expressed, with a dash of humor mixed with gravity, Jucker broke her veil of silence to recount the challenges of hiding from the Nazis and camping out for seemingly endless nights. She was grateful for the occasional newspapers that could be used as blankets. The family scavenged for food in the forest and somehow managed to survive.
After attending church services with a Catholic friend, Jucker related how grateful she was for the delicious wafer she was given by a priest – and how disappointed she was that she did not get to have seconds.
Also on the program were a remorseful Nazi descendant and a rescuer’s daughter – Righteous Among the Nations – who received a medal of honor from the president of Poland.
Claudia Kiesinger told the painful story of her perpetrator Nazi grandfathers, whom she does not wish to emulate.
Renate Hurd related how her father, as a teenager, was instrumental in his family’s decision to hide nine Jewish people on their property. One person’s upstanding decision can significantly impact the lives of others.
Consuls general of Germany and Poland were among the guests, along with Brandt Burleson of the Israeli Consulate. Dr. Hy Penn of Temple Beth Torah gave the invocation.
Adi Rabinowitz-Bedein, a Holocaust educator-activist from Israel, spoke about the death marches and the importance of remembering.
Also participating were Denise Kahans, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, and St. Martha Catholic Church Deacon Carlin Walters.
Also attending the event were Barb Isom and Prof. David Lawhon, descendants of camp liberators, and Holocaust Education professors from Houston Community College and University of Houston. Kingwood Middle School Choir and the school’s ROTC also participated.
Texas state Rep.-Elect Charles Cunningham, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office, and Humble’s American Legion Post 132 delivered proclamations.
Kingwood High School principal Michael Curl and Creekwood Middle School principal Walt Winicki, along with students, hosted the event.
The 2-mile Remembrance walk began at host Creekwood Middle School in Kingwood, past the adjacent Veteran’s Memorial Garden and down to the site of the future Holocaust Garden of Hope along the Lake Houston waterfront. Those who couldn’t walk were transported to and from by Humble ISD school buses.
At the Holocaust Garden site, and accompanied by music, members of nearby churches and Temple Beth Torah read the names of Holocaust child victims.
“We remembered, we reconciled, we made a public stand against antisemitism with our march … now we celebrate the lives of those who survived and our commitment to being upstanders,” said Rozalie Jerome, before the celebration of life began at the end of the event.
Music and dance followed recitation of Kaddish by Holocaust survivor Morris Narunsky and translated by Chelsea Brewer.
Marches were held in 20 German cities, as well as 50 international cities this year; five of them in Ukraine, despite the war, according to Heinz Reuss, international director.
Over the past 10 years, the March of Remembrance Texas chapter has encouraged Houston residents and beyond to honor survivors by giving them a voice, facilitate reconciliation of survivors and their families with remorseful Nazi descendants and take a stand against modern-day antisemitism. It has partnered with Holocaust Museum Houston and the citywide Yom HaShoah service for many years. Most of the focus now is to bring the marches to schools and universities, as well as churches and synagogues.
The Holocaust Garden of Hope will be an interactive educational initiative for the purpose of educating children and young families about the role of children as survivors, victims, rescuers and perpetrators during the Holocaust. It will include the Upstander Stone Project, for students, teachers and civic groups to paint stones in memory of the children who perished during the Holocaust. The stones will be placed in the garden near the eight pocket exhibits that narrate the Holocaust.
By engaging the next generations with the values-based issues at the root of the Holocaust, the Holocaust Garden of Hope will serve as a steppingstone for people to dive deeper into the wealth of information offered by Holocaust Museum Houston and other important and established museums.