More than 1,700 children of survivors of the Holocaust from the U.S. and Canada, gathered here for their first International Conference, heard speakers vow to “protect and perpetuate the sanctity and the inviolability of the memory of the Holocaust” and “prevent it from being exploited, mythologized or desecrated by anyone for any purpose.”
The conference, the largest of its kind to date, was organized by the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (INCJHS), whose chairman, New York attorney Menachem Rosensaft, addressed the opening ceremony at Town Hall Sunday. The three-day conference closed this afternoon. Some of its sessions, including workshops and cultural programs, were held at the City University of New York Graduate Center and at Camegie Hall.
The organizers stated that its purpose was to create greater understanding of the Holocaust and its impact on the contemporary world and to establish contacts among the children of survivors in the U.S. and Canada.
In addition to Rosensaft, other speakers included authors Elie Wiesel and Lucy Dawidowicz; Nazihunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld who flew here from France to attend; Brooklyn District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman; Rep. Samuel Gejdenson (D. Conn.); Benjamin Meed, president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors; and the Israeli Consul General in New York, Naphtali Lavie.
TRIVIALIZATION OF HOLOCAUST DEPLORED
Wiesel, who is chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, told the audience in his keynote address that they were the “guardians of the tale” of the Holocaust and should not let it be trivialized into “silly, stupid, cheap pictures on television.” This was an apparent reference to the NBC-TV “Holocaust” mini-series broadcast in the U.S. several years ago and subsequently screened in West Germany and other countries.
“Your task is to speak, and others to learn,” Wiesel told the gathering. He warned that they could be criticized for obsession with the Holocaust and accused of exploiting the tragedy. “That is the price you will pay for your commitment,” he declared.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE YOUNGER GENERATION
Rosensaft, in his address, noted that “We, the sons and daughters of the survivors, have accepted the heavy responsibility inherent in our unique identity, and we have committed ourselves to providing the necessary continuity of our parents’ work of the past 39 years.
“Together with them, we shall protect and perpetuate the sanctity and the inviolability of the memory of the Holocaust. We shall prevent it from being exploited, mythologized or desecrated by anyone for any purpose.
“And above all, we shall transmit to our children our profound reverence and admiration for the spiritual strength, the heroic defiance and the somber dignity displayed throughout the years of the Holocaust by all who suffered its agonies, the victims as well as the survivors, for it is their unyielding adherence to the highest principles of Judaism and humanism which symbolizes and explains the survival of the Jewish people.”
‘A SACRED OBLIGATION TO UPHOLD’
Continuing, Rosensaft said: “As the heirs of the six million Jews who were annihilated during the Holocaust, we have a sacred obligation to uphold and defend those principles and ideals which unite us. Thus we must continue to identify unambiguously with the State of Israel; we must preserve and strengthen our Jewish spiritual and cultural identity; and, if we are to avoid a recurrence of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, we must both speak out and act on behalf of all who are persecuted and oppressed anywhere in the world.”
According to Rosensaft, there are about a half million children of survivors in the U.S. and Canada. He said that his organization has almost 6,000 members.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.