History and remembrance don’t mix

Six Candles But No Enlightenment

  • A Holocaust Commemoration Marred

One survivor remarked in Yiddish, “Her speech to this audience was like serving pig to Chassidim”. The guest speaker was a historian on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, May 4, 1997. Grandmothers and grandfathers came to the JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, New Jersey to show their children and grandchildren how important it is to remember. Six families came to light six candles for the six million whose lives were snuffed out in the Holocaust. It was a small gesture for such a large loss. But the symbolism was powerful. The presence of survivors and their families was a concrete reminder that Jews are linked to the past and to the future. Unfortunately, many people there thought that the tone, solemn and respectful, was marred by a misguided guest speaker who did not understand the audience and insulted the memory and solemnity of the occasion.

Dr. Atina Grossman, made highly controversial remarks concerning the suffering of Germans in postwar Berlin. She made suggestions and innuendos regarding Jewish life in postwar Berlin that the audience found hurtful and inappropriate.

The speaker at first appeared to realize that her research might not be appropriate for this forum. She remarked apologetically, “It is very difficult to mix history and remembrance … I’m not even sure it should be done.” […]



by Miryam Z. Wahrman, Ph.D.

Jewish Communication Network: Miryam Wahrman

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