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Event commemorates stories of Holocaust survivors

Author and survivor, René Goldman shared memories for future generations

Renè Goldman meets members of Congregation Beth Israel at a Kristallnacht commemoration event on Sunday, Nov. 5. Photo by Danica Walker
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Reported by Danica Walker

The importance of keeping the stories of Holocaust survivors alive for generations to come is important, according to one of the few remaining who can tell their story.

Holocaust survivor René Goldman spoke about personal survival in Nazi occupied France and the importance of preserving the events of the Holocaust at a Kristallnacht commemoration event at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue on Sunday night. He wants the Holocaust to be better taught in schools because of the dangers of forgetting such a horrific period of history saying that the world is currently seeing a resurgence of antisemitism so education is crucial.

“It is important that people at large, the populations at large, be aware of what had happened,” Goldman said. “I’m always angry every time I hear about the way history is taught or rather not taught in the high schools.”

Stories preserved for decades

The event marked the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or ‘Night of Broken Glass’, when Jewish communities were targeted in a night of violence and destruction in Nazi Germany and Austria.

René Goldman takes part in a book signing after giving a keynote address at a Kristallnacht commemoration event on Nov. 5. Photo by Danica Walker

Goldman wrote a memoir titled A Childhood Adrift for The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program with the Azrieli Foundation which looks at educating schools with survivor’s personal stories.

Jody Spiegel, director of The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program, said having first-hand accounts are an indispensable resource. She spoke of the gravity of preserving their accounts.

“When the last survivor is gone and their words can no longer be spoken, it will be up to us to tell their story,” Spiegel said.

Educating youth for long-lasting memories

The program works with schools to teach the younger generation about the Holocaust by having survivors share their experiences.

“These students are the last generation of students to actually listen to a survivor,” Spiegel said.

Ilona Shulman Spaar, education director at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, told The Voice how hearing a survivor speak affects young people.

“The most powerful is when they hear a survivor speaker,” Spaar said.

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