More than 1,150 people at March of Remembrance events in Houston and Kingwood and at Lone Star College April 20-23 heard Holocaust survivors share riveting accounts of how they were rescued from certain death.
Rosian Zerner and Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsvath related dramatic tales of heroism on the part of ordinary people who dared to risk their lives to rescue Jews. After harrowing experiences fraught with the constant threat of exposure and capture by the Nazis, both ultimately managed to emigrate from Europe to America, where they refused to allow trauma and persecution to hinder them; they both became educated, accomplished individuals.
Repentant Nazi descendants, Bärbel and Anna-Suzette Pfeiffer, related how they discovered what Bärbel’s grandfather had done during World War II. He had been directly responsible for wiring miles of electrical fence at Auschwitz and for installing the plumbing in the gas chambers; he had collaborated in the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Jews (and others). The Pfeiffers tearfully expressed their remorse to the Holocaust survivors; many former victims and their families came forward to embrace them.
Because many Holocaust survivors owe their lives to upstanders such as rescuers and liberators, keynote speakers were asked to tell the story of their rescue. Many Lone Star students participated in the march after hearing child survivor, Rosian Zerner, speak recently to a standing-room-only crowd about seven rescuers who saved her life.
Zerner’s lecture was recorded by LSC-Kingwood’s media department and is available on YouTube for future generations of students to learn about the Holocaust directly from a survivor. Also at the march, German-born history Professor Thilo Schimmel of Lone Star College spoke about his students’ responses to the Holocaust, and LSC students gave brief reports on rescuers from different nations and backgrounds.
Pastors, rabbis and leaders from various churches and ministries participated in the events. Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans and Catholics were represented as well as numerous other congregations. Survivor descendant, Michael Cahn, of Temple Beth Torah, led the memorial reading of victims’ names accompanied by violin and harp.
Dignitaries and business leaders also participated in the march; Honorary Consul General of Hungary Phillip Aronoff was in attendance, as was Aronoff’s wife, Lynne, a commissioner on the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. Paul Sarvadi of Insperity, Inc., and wife, Dr. Victoria Sarvadi, founder of The Nathaniel Center, served as key supporters of the march again this year.
Besides remembering those who perished in the Holocaust and honoring those who survived, served as liberators, or rescued members of the various groups targeted for persecution, March of Remembrance events educate the public to recognize signs of impending genocide and engage hearts to say “Never again!,” not only in the face of modern-day anti-Semitism, but also in the face of prejudice and persecution of any people group.
Planning has already begun for next year’s events, and sponsors are being sought for the Houston Marches of Remembrance, as well as for the Holocaust Garden of Remembrance at King’s Harbor.