Monday, May 01, 2000

Youth to preserve Holocaust legacy

By Sara J. Bennett
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Elliott Sussman is part of the last generation in history who will know a survivor of Hitler's Holocaust. His grandparents endured the World War II ordeal that killed 6 million Jews, and now Elliott is learning all he can before they are gone.

        “It's very important we tell our kids and grandkids what happened,” said the 16-year-old from West Chester. “They watch things about it on movies and TV, but how are they supposed to know the real stories?”

        Elliott is part of a bigger effort to get grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Holocaust survivors thinking about the role they play in preserving memories of the event.

        Elliott appears in “Communication and Healing: The Third Generation Speaks,” a video premiered Sunday at Amberley Village's Rockdale Temple during Yom Hashoah, the annual Holocaust memorial day.

        Born of a thesis by soon-to-be Rabbi Holly Levin Cohn of Amberley Village, the video features young relatives of Holocaust survivors talking about the fear, the responsibility, and the humility they feel carrying on a legacy that is so important to their people.

        “We're the last generation that's going to know survivors firsthand, and we're the longest living generation to tell future generations what happened,” said Ms. Cohn, 30, who also is the granddaughter of survivors.

        The creators and underwriters of “Communicating and Healing” haven't decided how the video will be used next, Ms. Cohn said.

        It's important, Ms. Cohn said, to reach children like Paula Mermelstein, 10, of Finneytown. In the video, Paula speaks of being scared to talk about what her grandmother, Joan Mermelstein of College Hill, went through in Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen concentration camps.

        Ms. Mermelstein, 83, said she respects her granddaughter's fear. Eventually, however, the Czechoslovakian native plans to discuss details of her experience with Paula.

        Today's children “are handed everything, and they don't want to know, but it's important they should know, and as she's older I'm going to tell her,” Ms. Mermelstein said. “They should know what happened and preserve it so that it never happens again.”


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