"Once you listen to a witness, you become a witness yourself." - Elie Wiesel
As the years pass since the Holocaust, fewer and fewer survivors remain to tell their powerful stories.
One North Carolina organization, the Chapel Hill-Durham Holocaust Speakers Bureau, seeks to preserve the important lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. The Bureau arranges for people with first-hand accounts of history to talk publicly, especially with children.
Speakers include Sharon Halperin, Sharon is the daughter of Holocaust survivors from Poland and Latvia. Her parents met and married during World War II, and at the end of the war were in a camp for displaced persons in Germany. Shannon now lives in Chapel Hill with her husband and three daughters, and works to tell the stories of her family and other survivors.
Peter Stein is also a speaker for the Bureau. Peter was born in Czechoslovakia to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. His father was forced into a camp, Terezin (Theresienstadt.) His father survived, but the entire extended family (9 people) died in camps. Peter now works for the University of North Carolina.
Renee Fink went into hiding at age four. She was sheltered by a Catholic family until the war was over when she was eight. She survived life in an occupied and heavily bombed part of Holland. Renee speaks to many in the Triangle of her childhood wartime experiences.
Sharon, Peter, Renee and others are working to make a permanent repository of the stories of North Carolina Holocaust survivors and liberators. They talked with WUNC's Frank Stasio about their project. The goal is to record the stories before the storytellers are all gone. The project is currently in production, and when it is completed, the interviews will be made available to students, educators and the general public.