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‘The lessons of the Holocaust must be remembered’
8 Oct 2012 Michaela Terenzani - Stanková Culture & Society
“I WILL never know my mother’s favorite color, my father’s favorite dish, or what kind of music my parents liked. I will never know how they relaxed in the evenings or whether they went to the theater. Did they enjoy reading? What were their political beliefs? Did they adore the ballet as I do? Did they enjoy sports as I do? Did they love art and have a talent for it, as I seem to?”
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Why was it important for you to write down your story and have it published?
I published the book because I am a young survivor who went through hell as a child, grew up and realized that the lessons of the Holocaust have still not been properly absorbed by humankind. We know this, because since those terrible, hate-filled and murderous days, there have been other genocides, and world governments did very little or nothing to stop them.
The only way we can make people care about others is to tell our own stories in a personal way, hoping to touch a heart and a soul and convince them to act – to speak out against injustice, to vote, to do something, somehow that makes the world a better place and stops the hatred we all have for the strangers or different people in our midst. That is why I think my book is so important. It touches young and old and makes them think about their role in the world.
TSS: You were born in Slovakia, but lived in several countries during your life. Which of those countries do you call home?
Today my home is in the United States, a country that has been kind to me and allowed me the freedom to realise the American Dream. Israel is very close to my heart, offering a safe haven for the Jewish people, who it seems are still hated in many places. This is unfortunate, because my people have brought many great advances in medicine, science, technology, literature and philosophy into the world.
TSS: Have you visited Slovakia since you left Nové Mesto nad Váhom after the war? What are your feelings about travelling to the country and the town where you were born?
TSS: The Slovak public is divided in its perception of the wartime Slovak state. Some far-right groups but also several ‘mainstream’ important public figures glorify it, overlooking the fact that its government sent many people to their deaths. But most people simply lack the knowledge about what exactly was happening here during the war – you don’t learn many details at school. What do you think about that?
Politics is personal; when we cast a vote, when we speak out in the face of injustice, when we defend those who are defenceless, we apply the lessons. If we fall into the trap of hatred, the world is doomed. I hope that my book will teach these lessons, in a gentle way, to the children of Slovakia, who will reach out to build bridges to their fellow citizens and people everywhere.
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