Book by Holocaust survivors a unique treasure
by Kristine Berey
The illustration on the cover of Preserving our Memories: Passing on the Legacy tells the story at a glance.
A flowering tree is portrayed in bright watercolour, becoming a stark ink drawing half way down. At first it seems like a play of colour to black and white—until you realize the red blossoms in its crown are doomed and that the tree is becoming engulfed, scorched and dying, with vine-like barbed wire insidiously creeping upwards beside it.
But if the viewer allows his gaze to linger, he perceives the small beginnings of green and brown beneath the roots, the stirring of new life and the hope for continuing existence.
It is not surprising that the artist, Suzana Kohn, is also one of the authors of this book, the result of tape recorded, transcribed and very lightly edited interviews with members of the Drop-in Centre for Holocaust Survivors at the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors.
The personal stories of the 17 participants in this project provide a unique opportunity to introduce young people to the horrific history of the Holocaust without overwhelming them. The language is natural and accessible even to a child in grade 5.
The images within the intimate recollections of the survivors—a little boy straining under the weight of a huge sack of potatoes, or a Serbian schoolgirl defending her Jewish best friend against anti-semitic insults – bring the reality of these experiences home to readers now, regardless of age or religious background.
The stories speak for the millions of lost parents, children, sisters and brothers, as the reader is transported into the terrifying world of Europe before and during the Second World War.
Most importantly, each testimony ends with something to learn, something to transcend and something to live for—all tools without which none of us could survive.
Preserving our Memories:Passing on the Legacy is available at the Cummings Centre.
Info: (514) 342-1234.