30 April 2007

Family history lost

As described in this article, Western Illinois University president Al Goldfarb visits a junior high school to talk about his experiences as the child of Holocaust survivors.

Al Goldfarb had some questions.

"How many of you know one of your grandparents?" Goldfarb asked. "How many of you know an aunt or an uncle?"

Most of the students gathered in the gym of Monmouth-Roseville Junior High School raised their hands.

"You know what my answer would have been? No. Did I know my grandparents? No," Goldfarb said. "My history was taken away from me. My children's history has been taken from me."

In Ukraine, his mother was 12 in 1939. With family members, she escaped from a ghetto into the Ukrainian forest, and spent years under cover. After the war, she and an aunt went to a displaced persons camp, where she met his father. He had survived the Flausenberg labor camp. They married in 1947 and went to the U.S.

Goldfarb grew up in New York with his parents, brother and great-aunt. The rest of his family and all their possessions, including photographs, were lost in the war.

He told the students, "You need to not view the Holocaust as ancient history," Goldfarb said. "I'm the example of that."

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