Those children who died could have been ours | Op-ed by WJC Vice President Mary Kluk

03 Feb 2020

With the number of Holocaust survivors alive today dwindling, the poignancy of having more than 100 Auschwitz survivors and their families under the same roof will remain with me always. This was at the formal commemoration ceremony at Auschwitz in Poland of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp on 27 January.

By Mary Kluk
Chair of the Africa and Australia Jewish Congress, President of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, and WJC Vice President 
Jan 30, 2020 | South African Jewish Report

The courage of these extraordinary men and women, all with a number tattooed on their arms, is a source of constant inspiration. But the reality of life beyond them, a time when there will be no more witnesses, was brought home sharply by what survivor Marian Turski said at the start of his address, “I will not live to see another jubilee here, so apologies for my emotions.”

The responsibility to uphold the memory and enduring lessons of the Shoah rests with the generations to come.

No matter how many times I have visited various concentration camps, I’m somehow changed by the time I leave. The enormity of the experience can’t be overstated and, of course, each visit is influenced by one’s life circumstances at the time.

Since my last visit to Auschwitz, we have been blessed with two gorgeous grandsons, Leo and Jàçob, who were at the forefront of my imagination as we walked once more through this factory of death.

In his keynote address at the commemoration, Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, referred to the tragic testimony of a survivor at the Adolf Eichmann trial, who described how the fading sight of the “little girl in the red coat worn by his daughter” was the last image he had of his wife and young child as they were selected for immediate death.

To read the full op-ed in the South African Jewish Report, click here