Toothless' Mega Super Awesome Blog
Toothless' Mega Super Awesome Blog

I shook hands with history.

by on Oct.22, 2012, under Catholic Studies, History, Personal Moral Responsibility

On Friday, the 19th of October, our school took a trip down to the Sydney Jewish Museum as part of our transition week stuff. On the bus ride there, Caley and I watched the classic Shawshank Redemption. Bloody brilliant, but we’ll save that for a different post! Anyway, back on topic, we arrived at a park opposite SJM to enjoy lunch in the sun – or shade if you sat under a tree, I guess. Once we had all plumped ourselves up, we approached the doors of SJM. Upon entry, all our bags were checked. Interesting… I don’t really think anyone would try to deface or attack the SJM in modern-day Australia, but I’m probably just naive. As soon as I stepped into the museum, a poignant feeling came over me. We scuffled down to place our bags in a storage area before taking our seats in a somewhat large room, where year 10 were split in half and separated. I was part of the half that stayed and was given a brief video overview of WWII and it’s context. The presenter then called a man to the stage named Eddie Jaku. He was an Auschwitz survivor. He came down to the ‘stage’ area and began a rather inspirational talk. He talked about his experiences as an adolescent in Nazi Germany – how he was ‘German first’, ‘German second’ and ‘Jew third’. He went on to discuss his capture, escape, companions and eventual rescue by US troops. Eddie also threw in some stories about his son, Michael, and how to have a successful relationship (i.e. be your wife’s best friend).

Amazingly, after all this man went through, here he was – standing before me at age 92.  Inspiring. He posed a question to us; “I am a Jew! What does that make me?” After a brief moment of silence, Diam to my left answered “A human!” Eddie thought I spoke, turned to me, extended his hand and said “Thank you.” I shook his hand. Poor Diam. Throughout all the stories Jaku told, he repeatedly stated his main point: never hate. Hate breeds violence, violence brings suffering and suffering creates fear. Fear is a powerful tool in the right hands. Hitler manipulated fear and ignorance to control a nation. A lot of good men did nothing to prevent Hitler’s rise to power… which is quite disappointing to say the least. Following Jaku’s inspiring stories, we were given a tour around SJM whilst the other group took their seats for his speech. The most emotional parts of the tour were the memorials (Children’s and Family’s) and the images of the Germans executing two people with one bullet to conserve ammo. One such image depicted a mother being forced to hold her child to her head so the bullet would pass through them both. The child looked no older than 6. It was quite horrific, and coming out of the museum I actually felt quite sick. I knew alot about WWII prior to entering the museum, but meeting a holocaust survivor made everything seem so much more real. Definitely an experience other Rosebank years should participate in.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
Elie Wiesel

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