“If they made a world where we remembered we’re all the same. Beneath skin lays a structure no different from another, a world that finally made sense and all humans are actually human,” says Bayonne High School Holocaust essay contest winner Melanie Colon.
Katie Berces was 19 when she was taken by the Nazis into a concentration camp.
“It should never happen again this cruelty,” the Holocaust survivor says. “We saw the gas, oh my G-d. I’m shaking when I remind.”
Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher, who spent three years of her childhood in the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, shared her experiences at the annual event, sponsored by United Jewish Appeal Federation of Bayonne and the Bayonne Interfaith Clergy.
“Out of 15,000 children at that camp, only one percent survived and Inge was one of them. Amazingly, her parents also survived. They emigrated to the United States in 1946,” city spokesman Joe Ryan said in a press release.
You can’t forget history otherwise it might repeat itself.
“Having this is always teaching our younger generations of what happened during World War II and what happens when bigotry and hatred takes over,” Mayor Jimmy Davis says.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day we remember the six million Jewish victims of Nazi atrocities.
“I was in concentration camp; I was in four different camps and of course I lost my parents, a brother and grandparents — a lot of relatives,” says Holocaust survivor Regina Resnick.
“I have lived dear G-d in a world gone mad and I have seen evil, unleaded beyond reason or understanding,” says Rev. Dorothy Patterson, from Wallace Temple A.M.E. Zion Church. “I was with them, we drank from the same bitter cup.”
Bayonne Muslim Community administrator Waheed Akbar says, “It is our duty as humans and as Americans whose rights of freedom of speech and religion are protected to speak against intolerance and hatred against all people.”
Two local artists went with 30 New Jersey teachers to the infamous Holocaust sites and documented their journey in pictures. This is one they chose.
“They’re very young and we were wondering what their parents were teaching them about that and what would they think 10 or 15 years from now about being here,” says Bayonne High School teacher and Holocaust studies expert Gene Woods.
When she was in Treblinka, a common blue butterfly landed on Stefanie Wood’s foot in the middle of the deserted concentration camp where everything was torn down and burned.
“And let me take pictures of it for a good 15 minutes and that was like to me a symbol that somebody was there with me and knew I was there to remember,” the Bayonne High School English teacher says.
Not a day goes by that these brave women don’t remember the horror.
“I pulled my mother out and a head block woman. I save them. My mother lived 41 years extra,” Berces says.
“I really don’t have to look at these things to have it in my mind,” Resnick says. “It’s always there in the back of your mind. You never forget it.”
“Tell them about slavery, tell them about the Armenians, the Jews, Darfur and many more. Tell them about Malala, a bullet for education. Tell them no means no. Plant a seed, give it care, imagine a world so fair. Watch a human bloom. Teach our kids that everyone else is human too,” Colon says.