Carrying on the Experiences of a Holocaust Survivor

Tihmily Li, Communications Officer
In Monday’s full-school assembly in the gym, members of the Jewish Culture Club (JCC) stood at the podium to introduce our guest speaker, Eva Meisels. This guest speaker opportunity was coordinated by the JCC and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies, with support from Rachael Brownell-Swain, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Outreach.

Eva was born in 1939 in Budapest, Hungary. After her father was taken to a forced labour camp in 1942, Eva and her mother were in the Budapest Ghetto and eventually, a safe house. Eva recalled witnessing the massacre of Jews along the Danube River. Her mother was urged to send Eva to the countryside for safety, but she declined, insisting that she and Eva were to remain together. They later learned that their family members in the country were sent to concentration camps and many perished in the gas chambers. 

Eventually, Eva and her mother were shut in almost total darkness in a basement. They broke down walls in the basement to discover canned duck liver which was the only nourishment they had. They obtained false papers from Raoul Wallenberg and were liberated by the Soviet Army. Eva lost her sight after being in the dark for so long, but it returned gradually after adjusting to light. After Hungary was liberated, Eva’s father returned from the labour camps and reunited with her and her mother. 

Following the war, Eva went back to school and immigrated to Canada in 1956. She imparted to Greenwood students and staff how important it is to “continue learning” and to take action if one witnesses injustice and discrimination. 

Given the recent rise of modern antisemitism, it is more important than ever to hear and carry on the experiences of Holocaust survivors to prevent a repeat of history. Eva quoted philosopher George Santayana, who said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is all of our responsibility to ensure that the future will not repeat history’s mistakes.

Greenwood will coordinate more programming with the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre later this month to delve deeper into this topic.
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