Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bearing Witness Series: Remember and Hope

Breman Holocaust Museum
Holocaust Museum
My most recent visit to The Breman was my third, but the first time I purposely attended a Bearing Witness Survivor Speaking Series program. I went wishfully to hear a story of hope…and that's what I got.

The Program

During Murray Lynn's presentation at The Breman Jewish Heritage & Holocaust Museum this past Sunday (January 9, 2011), the two words that resonated most with me that he gave as reasons for sharing his story of being a Holocaust survivor were "remember" and "hope."

As a tourist of many, many cities, I often seek out the local Holocaust museum. I've read about the Holocaust all of my life. From the time I was a pre-teen I would read autobiography after autobiography ("Night," "The Diary of Anne Frank," "Playing for Time") about the atrocities that human beings are capable of and the resurgence that the oppressed can achieve.

The Breman Museum
The Breman Museum
I knew even when I was so very young that hatred and violence isn’t the right answer. I was taught right from wrong, of course, but prejudice was still all around me. From what I read in those autobiographies, I learned of the dangers created by hatred and the ensuing actions based on an unbridled absence of love and zero compassion.

Refusing to fall prey to that frame of mind, I've continued reading so that I will always remember what can happen (the recent teen suicides resulting from bullying and the Arizona shootings as evidence) when compassion isn't part of the human experience equation.

The Breman Museum
The Breman Museum
As an adult, of all the places I had heard of to visit before I moved to Washington, D.C. in 2002, always at the top of my list was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was among the first places I toured shortly after moving there.

Later, I had the privilege and honor to meet Elie Wiesel, author of Night and a 1986 Nobel Peace Prize laureate…and a survivor of Auschwitz, the same as Murray Lynn.

Murray Lynn

When I arrived at The Breman, I was surprised to see such a large crowd. I had mistakenly assumed that there would not be so much interest (one of the downsides of hidden gems is that there's not much chatter about upcoming events), so I was pleasantly surprised.

Our speaker, Murray Lynn, was in the lobby greeting guests and the auditorium was practically full when I walked in. And I was very impressed with the camaraderie between the obvious members and the obvious guests…there were people there of many faiths, and all were made to feel welcome.

After welcoming remarks and a brief introduction, Mr. Lynn introduced a film in which he shares his story of survival of Death Camps during the Holocaust. The first film produced by The Breman, this event was the site of the global premiere. The film is narrated by Ambassador Andrew Young.

Holocaust Prisoner Uniform
Holocaust Prisoner
The video is not yet available to the public, but we were told that it soon will be. In the meantime, you can listen to a 2007 interview with Mr. Lynn presented by PBA and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.

Following the film viewing, Mr. Lynn elaborated on his experience, went into greater detail than what he had time for in the video, and took questions from the audience…and the questions were direct. Lynn answered every question, including the one, "How did your Holocaust experiences affect your faith in God?"

Liberated in 1945 at the age of 15, Mr. Murray Lynn is today 80 years old. He and his family were taken from Hungary to Auschwitz when he was 14 (none of his family survived). Every day, he was forced to carry 50-60 pound bags of cement mix for 12-14 hours on less than 200 calories of "food" per day.

Lynn was so emaciated when he was liberated (he dropped from 140 pounds to a skeletal 65 pounds), he had to be fed intravenously for two weeks.

During Lynn's discussion, he became very emotional when bringing up the loss of his mother and his father and three brothers. I've seen this emotional outpouring during similar testimonials and hope that we one day live in a world where no one will ever know what it is they must be feeling.

Mr. Lynn is a member of the Bearing Witness speakers bureau, so I'm hopeful that others will have the opportunity to hear him speak in the not too distant future.

Bearing Witness

The Bearing Witness Series program features a Holocaust survivor or a child of a Holocaust survivor in a speaker program on the first Sunday of each month.

Upcoming speakers include:
  • Henry Birnbrey, of Germany, on Sunday, February 6
  • George Rishfeld, of Poland, on Sunday, March 13
  • Penina Bowman, of Romania, on Sunday, April 3
  • Eva Baron, of Hungary, on Sunday, May 1

Upcoming Exhibitions

I'm really excited about the "Zap! Pow! Bam!" exhibit that starts on Sunday, January 23, 2011. A gala to celebrate the return of Zap! Pow! Bam! (which originated at The Breman in 2004), a retrospective on the golden age of comic books (1938-1950), is scheduled for Sunday, January 30 at 2:00 p.m.

Check their website for details of what promises to be a fun event for kids, adults, seniors and everyone between.

A special program will feature Emory University's professor of film studies, illustrator, and animation expert, Eddy Von Mueller.

The Return

As emotional as it is to hear stories of the Holocaust, do I think I'll return to The Breman for more of the Bearing Witness Series? Personally, I resolve to remember (and the accounts from Holocaust survivors will help ensure that) and I will always have hope (again, the first-hand survivor accounts are more than tales of terror, they're tales of hope), yes, I will definitely be back for more of the Bearing Witness Series program events.

Attending the Bearing Witness Series

Date toured: Sunday, January 9, 2011
Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.; Closed on Saturdays and most Jewish and Federal holidays.
Location: 1440 Spring Street (at 18th Street) (directions and map)

Cost: Free with Museum admission: Adults $12; Seniors $8; Students $6; Children (3-6) $4; Children (under 3) free; free for members
Parking: Free onsite parking

Artifacts from the Holocaust
Artifacts from the Holocaust

1 comment:

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