International Holocaust Remembrance Day is on Jan. 27, and to honor the 17 million lives that were taken in the genocide, the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hills has an educational agenda planned for the day. Docent-led tours, a Holocaust survivor presentation, and a screening of Who Will Write Our History, a documentary set in November 1940, days after the Nazis imprisoned 450,000 Jews inside the Warsaw Ghetto, gives visitors insight into the political climate and religious oppression that led to Adolf Hitler’s ascension to power, as Chancellor, Führer, and Dictator of Germany. “The most important lesson we teach is that history is made through a series of choices and that every choice has a consequence,” says Holocaust Memorial Center CEO Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld. “Choices by individuals have power.”
The multimedia experience begins with a personal account from a living Holocaust survivor. Paula Marks-Bolton, who hails from Ozarkow, Poland, will share her childhood memories of the Nazi invasion for 45 minutes. “Hearing the testimony of a survivor provides a special kind of understanding of the Holocaust,” said Mayerfeld. Following is a one-hour docent led tour of the museum’s 20,000 square-foot core exhibit, which features authentic artifacts including a WWII-era boxcar, photos, video testimonies, films, paintings, and sculptures. On the grounds of the memorial center is a tree descendent of the horse-chestnut that stood outside Anne Frank’s hiding place window, a sapling she described in her diary. The tour is at no cost with museum admission or membership, and is advised for children ages 12 and older.
Lastly, patrons will have the opportunity to view Who Will Write Our History, which splices works from the Oyneg Shabes archive – a collection of writings that detail what Warsaw ghetto life was like – with corresponding rarely seen footage and interviews of those who resisted the Nazis. Produced and directed by Roberta Grossman and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, the film features the voices of three-time Academy Award nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award winner Adrien Brody. “We are proud to be part of the global screening of Who Will Write Our History, a new documentary about courageous resistance fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto who used the power of pen and paper to tell their harrowing story,” Mayerfeld says.
Who are you honoring on International Holocaust Remembrance Day?