Paris, November 18, 2009
On the occasion of the second printing of your book, I would like to thank you for the many presentations you have given for the Centre of Contemporary Jewish Documentation – Shoah Memorial over the past fifteen years. I must emphasize that they were always delivered with the same openness, care, and thoughtfulness, and with your constant concern for “pedagogy” in conveying your complicated journey.
Indeed, no matter the age of the people who came to hear you and then ask you questions, whether they were middle school, secondary or university students, adults or sometimes even seniors, I always found you to be very direct in recounting your story. I also observed your thoroughness, and your desire to make yourself understood, never forgetting to place events in their historical and psychological context. I am certain that if you had not become the head of a company, you would have made an excellent teacher, as you were, in fact, for too short a time in the post-war years. Moreover, your presentations are infused with a humanity that leaves no one, from young children to older teenagers, indifferent. It is also your “philosophy of life” that you often succeed in transmitting.
Therefore I wish to express my profound gratitude to you for being truly “present” each time we ask it of you. Thank you for your joie de vivre and the humour you were able to retain through thick and thin, even in the darkest night, as you always modestly mention. Listening to the tragic story of your Viennese family and the brutal end of your own childhood, the humour and the tiny ray of hope that you provide are much needed. It is this message of hope, I think, that is especially appreciated by those who are lucky enough to meet you.
As I write these words, I am thinking, in particular, of the German adults who came to the Memorial several years ago. I recall very well how stupefied – this is not too strong a word – they were to hear someone like you— so friendly, amusing, and cultured – recount such tragic events in perfect German, without the least acrimony, and with such humanity. This presentation, and the exchange that followed, were very reassuring. I have to confess that it was a remarkable experience for me also. You showed that it was possible to rebuild your life after the dramatic journey that took you from Vienna to Revel, then from Revel to Auschwitz-Birkenau, to create a future for yourself, and lead a truly rich and successful life. For those Germans, who were born after the war, meeting you, listening to you, and asking you questions, was an intense and unforgettable moment. Thank you for these presentations, and also for the lesson in optimism and humanity that you succeeded in sharing with us.
Head of Pedagogical Services
CDJC-Mémorial de la Shoah [Centre of Contemporary Jewish Documentation – Shoah Memorial]