A stone for Holocaust families

October 30, 2017 by Michael Kuttner
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Visiting Israel for the Anzac centenary commemorations, Peter Wise, Gary Weiss and Johnny Weiss, took the opportunity to dedicate a plaque at Yad Vashem in memory of their families murdered in the Holocaust.

Gary Weiss, Peter Wise and Johnny Weiss

With the assistance of Searle Brajtman, the Director of the Yad Vashem English Language Desk, a small family ceremony was held at  the “Memorial Cave.” This is a relatively new place at the Holocaust Museum which contains plaques from many countries in memory of families. A prominent feature is the Australian Wall where plaques from Australians memorializing their loved ones have been erected.

Peter Wise gave this moving tribute to those murdered:

“We are the proud generation with Holocaust survivors as our parents. Today, Lotte is our last link.

And you are the grandparents and families we never knew; the grandparents who, together with your families, vanished from Bratislava and this world without a trace. It is now almost exactly 75 years since your lives were snatched from you during the most shameful era that mankind has ever known.

We want you to know that we are here today – in Jerusalem, our eternal capital to honour you.

We want to tell you that your lives were not in vain; that what you started at the beginning of the 20th century is alive and thriving in the 21st century.

Today we are wearing the cloak of remembrance on our shoulders; yet we are carrying the torch of your life in our hands.

The lessons of our past epitomise our very existence. On the one hand we are determined to preserve the baggage of our collective history; to make meaning of the tragedy that befell you; and at the same time, we are determined to use the strength we inherited from you to make an indelible mark both on our family; and on the community and society in which we live.

When you were murdered 75 years ago, our family was suspended between life and death; between hope and despair; between displacement and stability. You lived and perished in a shameful century of death; but Johnny, Gary and I and our families have been privileged to witness the decades of mind-boggling revival that have arisen from your ashes. We take nothing for granted.

We are the slender threads that connect the past with the future. We are your future. The family tree of your direct descendants is now into its 5th generation and totals 65 who have carried your bloodline; 45 of whom are living today.

We live in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Israel and the vast majority of us identify as Jewish. We have at our disposal resources and potential beyond your wildest dreams. We are vibrant and dynamic, yet we have not forgotten for one moment where we have come from.

Doubters do not believe. Sceptics do not contribute. Cynics do not create.

We are a family of memory and passion; we are a family of words and hope. We have fashioned our dreams and our ideas. We are anchored in the past but we have shared values, common beliefs and a deep conviction that it is our duty to realise the full potential of the legacy that you have bequeathed to us.

In the absence of graves, we dedicate this plaque to you today as a permanent marker of your lives.

Sigmund Weiss

Mina Weiss

Jolana Weiss

Eliska Wollner

Gertrude Wollner

Manci Weiss

 

Josef Hirschbein

Emilia Hirschbein

 

Ignatz Frankl

Berta Frankl

Lilly Frankl

Erica Frankl

Renee Frankl

Karl Frankl

Moritz Frankl

We didn’t know you but through the stories our parents told us, we feel like we do. As your grandchildren we were never fortunate enough to feel your warm embrace; yet it is a miracle and a blessing that our own grandchildren have been privileged to feel the warm embrace not only of grandparents, but of great-grandparents as well.

How times have changed. You can be content, knowing that goodness has ultimately triumphed over evil. That those who destroyed your lives did not succeed in destroying your legacy.

I wish you could see us all now – I would like to think that your hearts would be filled with joy and swollen with pride.

75 years may have passed, but we still carry your scars.

Today we honour you.

Today, we remember you.

Johnny Weiss recited the memorial prayer and Gary Weiss recited Kaddish on behalf of those present.

 

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