We live in a world that tends to forget.
We forget the things that are good, but we are particularly prone to forget the things that are bad.
In college, I took a writing course called “Legacies of the Holocaust”. In this class I learned many things, but the single lesson that stuck with me the most is the difference between Second and Third Generation Holocaust survivors.
Second Generation survivors, the children of survivors, generally feel a very close and emotional connection to their parents’ experiences. They were generally bred to celebrate survival by living their lives outside the context of the Holocaust. In other words, by moving on. There is a vast body of academic work on this subject, and I encourage you to study the research.
But the Third Generation is inquisitive. It is curious. It yearns to know every detail, uncover every fact, and recall every memory. We celebrate survival by looking at the Holocaust as a moment of pride, not of shame. Pride in our survival, our strength, and our perseverance.
Growing up, my mother, aunts, and uncles were not prone to discuss details of my grandfather’s story. It was always a far-off memory, a story that existed somewhere beyond recollection in the distant past. It evoked intense passion and emotion without ever being completely clear.
Until one day, my grandfather spent six hours telling me his entire story. That day changed my life.
I consider it not only a duty, but an honor, to preserve my grandfather’s story not only for myself, or my peers. I do this for the many generations to come. I do this for those who seek to deny the truth, who want to claim that this never happened.
May this digital museum serve as a reminder of the things that were bad, but most importantly, the things that were good.
May we never forget.
Zachary Everett Hanover
Grandson of Tevye Wejnsztejn
Third Generation Holocaust Survivor