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    Fort McCoy Holocaust Remembrance Day: Sharing stories key to learning from past

    Fort McCoy Holocaust Remembrance Day observance

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | Holocaust Remembrance Day speaker Jeffrey Gingold gives his presentation April 27,...... read more read more



    Story by Aimee Malone 

    Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office           

    Sharing stories is the key to learning from the past and preventing repeat offenses, said Holocaust Remembrance Day speaker Jeffrey Gingold on April 27 at Fort McCoy.

    Gingold is a freelance writer and second-generation Holocaust survivor. His book "Tunnel, Smuggle, Collect: A Holocaust Boy" is the story of how his father, grandparents, and other family members survived and escaped the Warsaw Ghetto.

    Gingold said that while he was growing up, he knew very little about his family's struggles before and during World War II.

    "My grandparents and father never talked about the Warsaw Ghetto or living in Nazi-controlled territory, other than (to say) it happened, they were there, and they got out — somehow," Gingold said.

    "Please understand that they lived in a time of fear. When they were (under) Nazi control, you could not talk. Talk meant death for you, death for your family, (and) death for anybody associated with you," he said. "They had burned into them never to talk to anybody, even to family, about what happened."

    Gingold shared excerpts from his book on what it was like for those who tried to flee the bombing raids during the Siege of Warsaw in 1939, which happened when his father, Sam, was only 6 years old. His family escaped the German strafing runs on evacuees only to be rounded up at the Russian-Polish border, returned to Warsaw, and assigned to a building in what would shortly become the Warsaw Ghetto.

    Gingold's grandfather, Duvid Gingold, was forced to work on the crew that bricked the Jews in to the ghetto.

    "They built a city within a city. They started with fences and barbed wire, and then they turned into walls — 20, 30 feet tall," he said. "It wasn't to keep people from getting in; it was to keep the Jews from leaving. And all the Jews from Warsaw and the area were all poured into this one ghetto."

    As conditions worsened in the ghetto, Gingold said, Sam began helping his family by smuggling their belongings out of the ghetto and into the black market to trade for what food they could find: mostly scraps of old vegetables.

    When he asked his father and grandparents how they had survived when so many other people had died — more than 400,000 Jews were imprisoned in the ghetto and an estimated 300,000 were executed while about 92,000 died of starvation, disease, and in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising — they said they simply lived one day at a time.

    "The whole goal of the day that you were in was to get to the next day. It was difficult to see a future," Gingold said. "The only thing you could think about was to survive. Survive the hour, survive the day."

    Remembering both the victims of the Holocaust and what led to their deaths is important to ensuring the past isn't repeated, Gingold said, and he encouraged people to listen to survivors, their families, and their stories.

    Congress established the Days of Remembrance in 1979 as the nation's annual commemoration of the Holocaust. It typically begins the Sunday before the Jewish observance of Yom HaShoah and continues through the following Sunday.

    The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The regime also targeted political opponents and other minority groups they perceived as inferior, including Roma, Slavic groups, homosexuals, and people with mental and physical disabilities.

    "I believe that there is more good than evil in people … but we must remember history," Gingold said. "We must never take it for granted, or evil will repeat itself."

    Gingold also encouraged people to learn from the past by listening to their own families' stories.

    "Every family has a story," Gingold said. "Even though you think you know what your parents went through, what your grandparents went through, I suggest maybe you don't know the whole story. I certainly did not."

    In the 2018 Holocaust Days of Remembrance proclamation, President Donald Trump said the same.

    "Let us continue to come together to remember all the innocent lives lost in the Holocaust, pay tribute to those intrepid individuals who resisted the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto, and recall those selfless heroes who risked their lives in order to help or save those of their persecuted neighbors," the proclamation states "Their bravery inspires us to embrace all that is good about hope and resilience; their altruism reminds us of the importance of maintaining peace and unity, and of our civic duty never to remain silent or indifferent in the face of evil.

    "We have a responsibility to convey the lessons of the Holocaust to future generations, and together as Americans, we have a moral obligation to combat antisemitism, confront hate, and prevent genocide. We must ensure that the history of the Holocaust remains forever relevant and that no people suffer these tragedies ever again."

    The next Equal Opportunity observance is later in May for Asian-American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month.



    Date Taken: 04.26.2018
    Date Posted: 05.10.2018 12:56
    Story ID: 276559

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