Holocaust survivor, Nazi perpetrator descendant, and daughter of a Righteous Among the Nations rescuer shared their stories before a rapt audience
KINGWOOD, TX, UNITED STATES, May 10, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ — On the tenth anniversary of March of Remembrance Texas in Houston, Holocaust Museum Houston Warren Fellow and 2nd generation descendant of Jewish Hungarian Holocaust survivors, Rozalie Jerome, and a volunteer team of over 50 had the honor of hosting 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 several decades, Edith had never shared her story publicly until Sunday, May 1 at the March of Remembrance event. Her delivery of that testimony of her childhood memories was masterfully written and sensitively expressed, all with a dash of humor mixed with gravity. She recounted the challenges of hiding from the Nazis and camping out for seemingly endless nights – grateful for the occasional newspapers that could be used as blankets. The family scavenged food in the forest and somehow managed to eke by. After attending church services with a Catholic friend, Edith related how grateful she was for the delicious wafer she was given by the priest – and how disappointed she was that she did not get to have seconds!
Edith Jucker’s testimony of survival captivated the audience, who had assembled to hear her story, along with the stories of a remorseful Nazi descendant and the daughter of a rescuer who was awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title along with a medal of honor from the President of Poland. Edith broke the veil of silence and bravely recounted her experience during the horrific years of the Holocaust and post-war Europe, and Claudia Kiesinger courageously told the painful story of her perpetrator Nazi grandfathers, whom she does not wish to emulate. Renata Hurd related how her father as a teenager was instrumental in his family’s decision to hide nine Jewish people on their property. It was clear that one person’s courageous decision can significantly impact the lives of others.
Houston’s Consul General of Poland and staff members from the Israeli and German consular offices were also in attendance. The opening ceremonies were followed by the Aaronic blessing and closing prayers by Dr. Hy Penn of Temple Beth Torah, a Kingwood descendant of Holocaust survivors, Denise Kahan and St. Martha Catholic Church Deacon Carlin Walters. The two-mile memorial walk from this year’s host venue, Creekwood Middle School in Kingwood, passed the adjacent Veteran’s Memorial Garden and concluded at the site of the up-and-coming Holocaust Garden of Hope along the Lake Houston waterfront. Those who couldn’t walk were transported by Humble ISD school buses to and from the sites. Adi Rabinowitz-Bedein, a Holocaust educator-activist from Israel educated the audience on the death marches and the importance of remembering…why? Because it means connecting….
As each participant arrived at the Holocaust Garden of Hope they heard beautiful music along with name reading of Holocaust child victims, recited by various churches and Beth Torah congregants. “We remembered, we reconciled, we made a public stand against antisemitism with our march…now we celebrate the life of those who survived and our commitment to being upstanders.” Rozalie Jerome stated just before the celebration of life at the end of the event. After Kaddish, read by Holocaust survivor Morris Narunsky and translated by Chelsea Brewer, inspirational upbeat music and dance performed by multiple church groups glorified G-d for HIs goodness even in the midst of such gross darkness.
Marches of Remembrance around Yom HaShoah took place in 20 German cities, as well as 50 international cities this year; five of them in Ukraine, despite the war, as Heinz Reuss, International Director of the Marches, pointed out. Over the past ten years, the March of Remembrance Texas chapter has encouraged local residents in Houston 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 promoted and partnered with the Holocaust Museum Houston and the city-wide 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 March of Remembrance Texas in Houston was made possible by generous sponsors Kingwood Emergency Hospital, Insperity and Midway. HEB supplied snacks and cold water to the marchers in addition to their donation. For opportunities to sponsor the 2023 march, visit Holocaust Remembrance Association. The Kingwood march was hosted by Creekwood Middle School with Principal Walt Winicki. Co-host was Kingwood Middle School, with Principal Michael Curl, who will host next year’s march in their new facility.
The next step for this movement is the construction of the Holocaust Garden of Hope, an outdoor 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. The Garden is the home of the Upstander Stone Project, an educational tool for students, teachers, and civic groups to paint stones in memory of the children who perished during the Holocaust. These stones will be “planted” in the Garden near the eight pocket exhibits that tell the narrative of 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 the Holocaust Museum Houston and other important and established museums.
Edith Jucker and her family continue to impact our community with their stories of surviving the Holocaust despite unfathomable odds, and descendants of Nazis and rescuers encourage us that it is indeed possible to make righteous decisions in the face of gross injustice.
Learn about the Holocaust Remembrance Association including the Holocaust Garden of Hope, Upstander Stones Project and Scholarship opportunities at www.HRA18.org.