Blogs and selfies
Today, April 28 2014 is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. There have been many events all around the world to mark the occasion. I attended one at Edgware United Synagogue last night where we watched the 2014 Oscar winning Short Documentary "The Lady in Number 6" about Alice Herz-Sommer who was the oldest living Holocaust survivor until her death earlier this year at the age of 110 years.
This is a wonderfully inspiring film about a very special lady who grew up in Prague surrounded by intellectuals, Kafka and Mahler were family friends, and became a celebrated pianist. Alice survived Theresienstadt concentration camp thanks to her musical talents and positive attitude, and continued to play the piano every day for the rest of her long life. Also featured in the film is Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, a world renowned cellist who, after surviving Auschwitz by playing in the Women's Orchestra (she remembers giving an impromptu performance for Dr Mengele) then survived Bergen-Belsen and went on to become one of the founder members of the English Chamber Orchestra.
Mrs Lasker-Wallfisch spoke at the event last night and I met her briefly afterwards. I asked if I could get a photograph of us together for my blog (my intention had been to get a selfie with her but she is a formidable lady and I lost my nerve to ask, so a friend took the photo instead!). She asked "Why do people write blogs?" This wasn't an 88 year-old inquiring what is a blog, this was an intellectual asking what is the value in writing a blog - what is the point? She was making me very nervous so I garbled out an explanation that I am blogging about my research and progress while writing my book about the Holocaust, and that I wanted to blog about using Social Media to raise awareness about the Shoah, antisemitism and so on."Oh, ok" she said. "Phew!" I thought. So I got my photo, even if it isn't a selfie!
To Social Media then and in particular Facebook where there are a number of groups and pages educating and informing about the Holocaust. 'Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors' and 'Generations of the Shoah International' are the two that I follow and they asked their followers to change their profile photo to that of a Holocaust victim for Yom Hashoah. I changed mine to that of my grandmother Cecile who was murdered at Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 42. Under the photo I asked "What would my grandmother have thought about having her photograph on Facebook?". A friend replied, "A beautiful intelligent woman who would have been so proud of her grand-daughter". At my husband's request I changed his profile photo to that of my grandfather Treitel who died at Auschwitz in 1943 aged 41. It was all about raising awareness and keeping the memory alive.
Another of the speakers last night explained how there are still two million names missing from the Yad Vashem database of the six million Holocaust victims and made the powerful statement: "To be forgotten is to die twice". So let us not forget. Let us use Social Media to the full. Let us post and share and comment about the Holocaust and against antisemitism. Let us share all of our information. Let us campaign against the racist and hate groups on Facebook. Let us back the Dear Mr Zuckerberg movement to ban antisemitic pages. Let us share the pictures and videos from 10am on Yom Hashoah in Israel when the entire country comes to a standstill in remembrance - the cars stop on the highways and people get out to stand in silence. It is so powerful. Let us share the images to show that we have not forgotten and we will never forget.