This week's crime report for Clay County Florida, provided by the Clay County Sheriff's Office.
ORANGE PARK -- Friday, Jan. 27, was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz by Soviet …
ORANGE PARK -- Friday, Jan. 27, was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the 78th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. Of the estimated 1.3 million people sent to Auschwitz,1.1 million died at the camp and six million died during the Holocaust.
Although Second World War and Holocaust Survivors are now few and the events that shook the world will soon fade from living memory, a new generation has stepped up to tell their parents' remarkable accounts of surviving history's darkest evils.
“Traces, Voices of the Second Generation” gave voice to the children of Holocaust survivors on Jan. 28 at the Wilson Center of the Arts in Jacksonville. The documentary urged everyone to join the resilient "second generation survivors" and ensure their parent’s survival stories and their influence on the next generation are remembered.
Here is an account of Orange Park Resident Ethel Holzmann’s second-generation survival story:
Holzmann grew up in the Bronx, New York City, raised by her parents, Morris and Anna (Weber) Scholder.
“I wasn’t always aware that I was a second-generation survivor,” said Holzmann, 75. “My mother was here in the Bronx during the Holocaust. She immigrated to America before the war and worked at a wig factory,” she said. Holzmann’s father left Europe at the end of the war and spoke little to nothing about his past or his first wife and their four children in Vienna, Austria.
“We don’t know exactly what happened, but we think he may have been arrested and taken into slave labor before the Holocaust. The atrocities were already in motion, but the authorities had not been given a label,” she said.
In 1938, some 170,000 Jews lived in the city. By 1940, only 8,000 remained. Hundreds of Jewish-owned businesses were closed or confiscated. Mobs torched most of the city's synagogues while law enforcement turned a blind eye. Men in uniform barged into people’s homes, taking their loved ones away without explanation.
“My father survived the Holocaust. His wife and four children did not,” she said. “So much of my family on both sides were destroyed by Hitler. We knew destruction, death, and loss, but there was no way that we could totally, completely understand what he went through because it was so horrific.”
When Holzmann’s father moved to America, part of his life had come to a close. The war was over. He remarried, had a daughter, and worked hard and long hours to support his family despite chronic health problems. “He wasn’t about to let the poison of what happened to him destroy the future for him. Of course, you can never forget the past. He couldn’t just forget scars like that, but he started over. He was surviving.”
Holzman’s father had a survivor's spirit, a spirit that she inherited.
Despite a legacy tainted and traumatized by war, death and deprivation, Holzmann embraced her identity as a second-generation survivor.
“Although I didn’t fully understand it as a young child, I didn’t let the Holocaust stop me from exploring my Jewish Heritage,” she said, recalling when she asked her father for a Jewish Star.
“I wanted to show him and everyone I was proud of being a Jew. I didn’t necessarily do it to make him feel better- it was how I felt. I took pride in my father accomplishing what he had accomplished,” she said. Now, she is a voice for her brothers and sisters. She is a voice for her father- his bravery and courage.
She is a voice for the next generation of survivors.
“I didn’t realize that I was a second-generation holocaust survivor, or it didn’t become clear to me until I started searching for my own identity. Things that had gone dormant in my mind came out in my heart. All of these memories surfaced. That’s when the full reality of my role as a second-generation survivor came to fruition,” she said.
“At this point, we have to build hope towards the future rather than dwelling in the past- not forgetting the past or diminishing its importance- but approaching it in a new light,” she said. We must all find ways to share the true stories of the Holocaust with every generation so we can stand up and stand firm against hatred, confront conspiracy with facts, ignorance with education and indifference with involvement.
We must not only remember the past but dream of a better future. “Moving forward and being optimistic is our only option. If we are not optimistic about the future, we are handing a victory to the enemy,” Holzmann said.
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