On the occasion of his 90th birthday and after plenty of “noodging” from the family, Holocaust survivor Catriel Fuchs finally decided to commit his amazing story to paper. Now 92, Catriel has written and published his autobiography, which, loosely translated, is entitled More luck than judgement.
“But don’t go rushing to the next book store,” he jokes, “because only ten copies exist. They contain the memory of my murdered family, of my youth, and are dedicated to my family, of course, and to my seven great grandchildren, aged from two-and-a-half to 13. One copy is in Yad Vashem.”
Every year, Yitzhak Livnat would proudly welcome the new cohort of students and share his remarkable story of survival. He did so “in a very authentic way”, his son, Doron, tells us. “My father was always very genuine and very honest.” Sadly, Yitzhak passed away in March 2017, and so, Doron now carries the torch in his father’s honor.
Cohort VI joined Doron, together with his wife Marianne, at the Yitzhak Rabin Centre for a tour of the Israeli Museum. After all, Yitzhak Livnat was a devoted Zionist and his story, just like Rabin’s, is deeply entangled with that of the birth and development of the State of Israel. The perfect setting, then, in which to remember a dear friend of the programme.
In a recent Research Forum, our students watched 2014 Israeli documentary There and Here, directed by Avida Livny.
There and Here tells the story of three former Israeli Air Force pilots and one former Israeli Air Force navigator. These four men all have something in common. They all survived the Holocaust as children and, since making it to Eretz Israel, tried to forget their European pasts and reinvent themselves as real Sabras. In this documentary, Shaya Harsit, Harry Klausner (Arieh Oz), Itzhak Birnbaum (Itzhak Biran), and Moshe Simigram (Simi Sa’ar) open up about their story of survival, their journeys to Israel, their desire to fit into the new nation and the challenges that accompanied doing so.
Dr. Carol Kidron is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Haifa. She teaches Anthropology of Memory, Trauma and Commemoration in the Weiss-Livnat International MA Program in Holocaust Studies.
At the start of her career, Dr. Kidron researched the collective memory and transmitted trauma of second and third generation Holocaust survivors. She then began to compare it with other groups who suffered genocide to assess whether or not the way Jews approach the memory and commemoration of the Holocaust is universal. Dr. Kidron closely examines the case of Cambodia. She found that there is a very different view among descendants of survivors of the Cambodian Genocide and descendants of Holocaust survivors. Overall, Dr. Kidron found that many Cambodians are disinterested in the genocide. Dr. Kidron attributes this in part to Buddhism’s role in their lives. Contrary to Judaism, Buddhism is not so concerned with the past and stresses the importance of the present and the future. Under the Buddhist perspective, one should accept their karma and move forward. Furthermore, through the Buddhist perspective, the suffering of the genocide is not different to other instances of suffering and therefore does not hold an overly special place in the collective memory of Cambodians.
This week in the Research Forum, Holocaust Survivor Micha Gelber shared his story with Cohort VI.
Micha was born in 1935 in the Netherlands. His memories began in 1940 at age five when the Germans invaded. He recalled the Nazi restrictions placed on him and his family, from not being permitted to leave their village, to have the family’s house confiscated and going in and out of hiding. Fortunately, Micha’s father was well-informed through the company he worked for and by local connections and was warned in advance when there would be waves of arrests. In 1943, however, when a Dutch policeman warned them of further arrests, Micha’s father, who had been given information that the family would be receiving Red Cross exchange certificates, decided not to go into hiding. As a result, the family was sent to Westerbork, but did receive confirmation that the Nazis intended to keep them alive to be exchanged for German nationals living in Palestine. That certificate was one of the reasons why the family was able to survive together throughout the rest of the war.
This week in the Research Forum Holocaust Survivor Danny Chanoch spoke to Cohort VI to share his story of survival through solidarity. Danny was born in 1933 in Lithuania. He was nine years old when the Germans invaded. Danny recalled seeing the atrocities that accompanied the German occupation of Lithuania with his own eyes. Because of his blonde hair and Baltic looks, he was the only member of his family who was able to safely leave their home to buy food. Walking around Kovno as a young boy, Danny saw Jewish people being tortured on the street. At such a young age he had to put up a wall between him and what he saw happening. His duty was to get food for his family, and he was also unable to help.
Zev Kedem and Hana Green
Earlier this year, Hana Green, a student in Cohort V, met Holocaust survivor Zev Kedem. She and Dr. Yael Granot-Bein invited him to share in a Research Forum. We were very fortunate to hear his story. Here’s what he shared:
The Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Zev was only 5 years old. He and his sister were on holiday, which was cut short, his mother made them leave early. Zev remembers being so upset, he said, “Little did I know that this darkness of the Holocaust would pursue me for six years.” They took the train back which stopped short of home, he and his family had to walk through Krakow in the middle of the night, to their grandparent’s home.