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Meeting people who experienced the Shoah (Holocaust) and hearing stories of survival and about the challenges of memorialisation and preserving genocide histories were somber highlights of Year 10’s visit to Sydney Jewish Museum (SJM) in Darlinghurst.
Now-elderly child survivors of the Shoah told of their experiences in Auschwitz and of growing up exiled in Siberia then returning home to hear many relatives had not survived.
The SJM holds over 2,500 testimonies from Holocaust survivors interviewed in Australia. These testimonies form part of a collection of more than 53,000 testimonies gathered by the Shoah Foundation, founded by Steven Spielberg. Individual testimonies have been digitised and are available to the public through the Shoah Foundation at University of Southern California.
SJM historian, Dr Ari Lander spoke to the girls about concepts of memorialisation and memory, focusing on representations of truth. The excursion dovetails with the students’ assessment on the role played by memorials in perpetuating the memory of the Jewish Shoah.
The group were particularly moved by stories told in person, a memorial wall bearing names of victims and a memorial to the child victims of the Holocaust, known as The Fountain of Tears, in which each drop symbolises a tear.