Le 27 janvier 1945, l'Armée rouge a atteint et libéré Auschwitz, le plus grand des camps de la mort nazis. Bien que la guerre fasse encore plus de victimes avant l'effondrement du Troisième Reich en mai 1945, les Nations Unies ont choisi cette date pour se souvenir de toutes les victimes du régime nazi et de ses collaborateurs. Six millions de Juifs, 200 000 Roms, 250 000 handicapés considérés comme «vie indigne de la vie» et 9 000 membres de la communauté LGBTQ ont péri dans la poursuite perverse de la pureté raciale par les nazis.
L’Holocauste n’est pas le premier cas de génocide de l’histoire, encore moins au XXe siècle. Ni, tragiquement, ce ne fut même pas le dernier.
Mais malgré l’apparente incapacité de l’humanité à tirer les leçons de l’histoire, nous avons la chance que tant de survivants de l’Holocauste aient continué à se consacrer à l’éducation publique. Ils racontent leurs histoires dans l'espoir que le rêve de «plus jamais» puisse être réalisé pour nous tous.
Nous avons eu l'honneur d'accueillir Vera Schiff et Andreas Mayer à ce webinaire très spécial et de vous inviter à entendre leurs histoires et leurs réflexions.
Andreas Mayer is the eighth Holocaust memorial service intern sent by the Austrian Service Abroad. He is placed with the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre from September 2017 through June 2018. Andreas was born and raised in Vienna. He went to a technical high school specializing in biomedical engineering and after graduating went on to TU Wien to study electrical engineering. He put his studies on hold for a year to complete his service at the Neuberger. Shortly before he had to decide to do either a military or civil service, he heard about the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service (“Gedenkdienst”) as a part of Austrian Service Abroad and ultimately chose this third option. Additionally to being educated by AHMS, Andreas prepared for his placement by volunteering for a Muslim-Jewish interfaith NGO as well as by visiting several memorial sites in Vienna, Berlin and Paris and former concentration camps in Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen and Melk. Andreas is looking forward to sharing his perspective with students and young adults during his stay in Canada.
The Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service (Gedenkdienst) is an independent alternative to Austria's compulsory national military service. Its participants serve at major Holocaust institutions. The first participant started in 1992 at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum. Since then, over 400 Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service interns have been working with major Holocaust memorial institutions in 23 countries worldwide. The intent of the AHMS is to recognize Austria's part of the collective responsibility for the Holocaust.
I was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. My family, Katz-Taussig, was a loving, close-knit clan of people. In May 1942, under Nazi occupation, we were deported to the concentration camp, “Theresienstadt,” where my parents, sister and grandmother perished. In spite of unimaginable odds I managed to elude the ongoing deportation to death camps in the East. In Theresienstadt, I was assigned to work in the camp’s hospital, “Vrchlabi.” Following the war’s end I found out that all my relatives were killed in different concentration camps. I am the sole survivor of our entire family.
After the war my husband, Arthur Schiff - also a survivor of the Holocaust - and I lived in Prague. Then, in 1949, we made aliyah and lived in Israel until 1961. Then, we moved to Canada. Here, I worked in my profession of medical technologist and specialized in Hematology.
We have two sons, David and Michael, both practicing physicians. We are blessed with six grandchildren. Following my retirement, I decided to commit to paper my memories in a book published in 1996, Theresienstadt- the town the Nazis gave to the Jews. This was followed up in 2004 with “Hitler’s Inferno- Eight Personal Histories from the Holocaust” and in 2005 I translated the small diary my mother kept in Theresienstadt under the title “A Theresienstadt Diary: Letters to Veruska”
In addition, I speak to schools and interested groups about our tragic past.. I am also a freelance interpreter at the office of the Attorney General, certified in the Czech, German and Hebrew languages.