Interfaith Pilgrimage to Europe
June 14, 2005- The first speaker for this program was Lara Leroy, Director of the Jewish Community Center and in charge of the Remembrance Program. Lara is the granddaughter of two grandparents who are survivors of the Holocaust. She has recently edited a video in cooperation with the College of Charleston about Holocaust Survivors.
Lara made an initial presentation in which she showed slides of the recent trip by 24 people to Poland to remember and reflect on the horrors of the Holocaust. Several camps were visited with special emphasis on Auschwitz. The pilgrimage of persons of all faiths is to show respect for and honor all humanity. The group gives special attention to the many memorials present at the camps and helps maintain them for posterity.
The second speaker was Joe Engel, himself a survivor of Auschwitz, having spent time there between 1942 and 1945. His emotional, heartfelt presentation touched all who listened to him speak of the terror of his experience and his dedication to ensuring that such an event can never happen again. He showed pictures of the many memorials at the camps and urged all persons to make the pilgrimage to Poland to see first hand what happened. Only by such a visit can one understand what one human being can do to another human being, persons who suffered strictly because they happened to be Jewish. He does not know why he survived, but he is the only remaining member of his family. He spoke of the “killer machine” which separated children from their parents. The world should never forget what happened there.
In response to questions from the floor, Lara and Joe made the following observations. The Holocaust Museum in Washington is well done and well worth everyone visiting. There are currently virtually no Jewish people in Poland. Most were killed and those who survived would not want to return to that area. Joe’s personal testimony has been recorded and is a part of major historical records. The Marion Square memorial is very special. Being within the city, the sponsors did not want it to be a horrific sight. Instead the wrought iron work provides a sanctuary and the sculpture within can be interpreted in many different ways, according to the image seen by the observer. It projects the victims, the perpetrators, and those who stood by and just watched.
There is an increasing amount of anti-Semitism in the world today, necessitating a state of vigil by all.
HATE IS A PEOPLE PROBLEM.
Submitted by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee