Lessons from the Holocaust: Remembering the Past and Looking to the Future

Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 7:30 p.m., Wayland Middle School Auditorium, 201 Main St., Wayland, MA. Join the Walden Forum for a discussion with Dr. Anna Ornstein, MD, Professor of Child Psychiatry, Author, Lecturer, and Holocaust survivor. Ornstein: “Every survivor of a disaster, whether natural or man-made, feels lucky.  Those of us who survived the Holocaust are only too aware that luck played a crucial role in our survival.  It may have helped to be smart, resourceful or courageous but more than any other factor, it is to luck that we owe our lives.”

Holocaust survivors, telling their story, telling the world what happened. This appears to be a moral imperative; however, it is never done without ambivalence. The wish to leave a legacy for future generations and the responsibility to preserve the memory often collide with the desire to forget, or to let the painful past remain in its encapsulated internal space.

Anna Ornstein published her childhood memories and Holocaust experiences as short stories in the book, “My Mother’s Eyes.”  Anna was seventeen years old in 1944, when she and her family were deported to Auschwitz; only she and her mother survived. Her two brothers perished in Forced Labor Camps, and her father died in Auschwitz.

The question is frequently asked: what can we do to prevent another Holocaust and to put an end to mass murder and genocides around the world – events that have become more numerous since WWII?  Limited as our efforts are to influence political events and religious extremism, we are trying to do what we can.  Foremost is education and the teaching of tolerance in our multi-racial, multi-religious society.  We emphasize the dangers of prejudice and discrimination, and we discuss the relativity of morality and the importance to maintain political systems that ensure human rights.