When Danna Horwood’s 11-year-old daughter asked what happened to her great-grandparents, the mother had to connect the importance of sharing harsh realities with sensitivity to a little child’s innocence. Horwood wanted her daughter to understand all that her grandparents had survived and overcome, and she wanted her to have knowledge that would equip her to fight against injustice. But at the same time, it was important to protect a little girl from horror that no person should have to endure.
“That was the start of my vision to tell my grandparents’ story to as many people as I can,” Horwood explains, “to keep their memory and the memory of those they lost alive in the hope that it will stop it from ever happening again.”
The challenge led Horwood to create Margaret’s Legacy, a project that introduces children to the significance of the Holocaust as a landmark in history. Horwood tells the story of her grandparents’ Margaret and Arthur Weisz, and others like them, and what they endured in Auschwitz and beyond.
In the short 35-minute video titled Margaret and Arthur’s Story, 92-year-old great-grandfather Arthur sits down to tell his story and his wife Margaret’s story to his great-grandchildren. Other members of the extended family join in to explain concepts such as labor camps and deportation and describe what it would have been like to go through the experiences their grandparents did. The incidents are described simply and directly without being too graphic.
Margaret and Arthur’s Story is designed for presentation in schools and educational settings, but individual viewing is available on YouTube. Scheduling a presentation of the video is free and can include bringing Danna Horwood, a trained speaker from Israel’s Yad Vashem Memorial Centre, or a Holocaust survivor to address the group.
It is a rare opportunity that is offered. While the importance of remembering the hard lessons of past atrocities lives on, few of those who can tell the story are still alive to do so. (Read “Remember, respect, revive” in the May issue of AFA Journal to learn more about Holocaust survivors and opportunities to minister to them).
Even as the documentary about Margaret and Arthur points out, 90% of the Jews in Margaret and Arthur’s hometown in Hungary were destroyed. The couple was among the 10% that survived to tell the tale. Now, as time puts more and more distance between the event and the memory of it, even fewer are around to tell the story.
The survivors’ descendants own that heritage now, which is why Horwood and her family have taken up the hard task to make it known to others. But they are not the only ones who have the responsibility to tell and defend truth.
All those who have seen the truth, the difference between light and darkness, whether through their own experiences or through the witness of history and of others, have the responsibility to stand up for that truth and fight to keep darkness at bay.
This is why we remember the Holocaust (Holocaust Remembrance Day was May 5.), and why we stay alert to injustice and wrongdoing in our own day, whether it is outright depravity like genocide or a subtler, disingenuous threat.
As Horwood concludes in the video: “The more you learn about the world, about politics, history, economics, the more you educate yourself, then you can watch for the signs of danger. You can stand up for what’s right. You can ask the hard questions when no one else wants to.”
Think of the world today, look at news headlines, and hear the stories of those around you and across the globe. Name the greatest worries or sorrows you see. What can you do to make them known? To assuage them? To stand against them?
Once you’ve recognized a wrong, it’s your job to work to make it right. Begin it now.