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.”
In 1995, Hannah M. Lessing took the helm of the Austrian National Fund, an institution entrusted with Holocaust recognition, restitution and remembrance. At the time, her father, himself a survivor, was less than impressed with her decision to turn her back on a successful banking career. His response? “Can you give me back my childhood? Can you bring back my mother from Auschwitz?”
“That’s when I decided to do it, with the knowledge that we cannot turn back the hands of time, that we cannot repair anything,” Hannah explains. And true to her word, she approached the then President of Parliament and asked for the job.
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.
“A person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten.” Words from the Talmud, no less, and the inspiration behind the world’s “largest commemoration project”, the Stolperstein.
The brainchild of German artist Gunter Demnig in the early 1990s, Stolpersteine – stumbling stones or blocks – are commemorative brass plaques installed in the pavement in front of a Holocaust victim’s last address of choice. Each engraving begins with the words, “Here lived…”
Cohort VI enjoyed a lively afternoon with ethical campaigner Terry Swartzberg, who is a tireless and, quite clearly, passionate advocate of the memorial project. “Stolpersteine are just the start of getting to know someone, an introduction to the victim,” he explains. “We can restore their name to our consciousness.”
Thesis: Jews saving Jews – Individual Initiatives during the Holocaust, 1939-1945
Experience: Volunteer at the Ghetto Fighters’ House Archive since October 2014.
- Gidron, N. “Jewish Physicians rescuing Jews during the Holocaust, 1939-1945” at the 17th Nahariya Conference on Medicine and the Holocaust
Michael Gans, the United States
Michael Gans is Director of Cultural Competence for a Holocaust Survivor Program, a RCSWI, and PhD candidate researching abuse, homophobia, mass-genocide and the transference of transgenerational trauma. He has been invited to speak at Yad Vashem, several international universities and is a self-taught filmmaker whose film, Jew Street, won two major awards. He is an adjunct lecturer and co-creator of the I-witness Holocaust Field School in which university students explore ways mass-genocide is memorialized in Europe. Through clinical social work, Michael seeks to help clients grow and re-story their personal, familial and national narratives rooted in their traumatic memory of abuse, homophobia, slavery, forced displacement, or genocide.
We are delighted to report that Professor Stefan Ihrig has been awarded the 2017 Dr. Sona Aronian Book Prize for excellence in Armenian Studies.
Stefan, who joined the faculty in 2016, was recognised by The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) for his book Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler (Harvard University Press).