Holocaust survivors and their descendants called on Boston to remember the those gravely impacted by the dark chapter and their stories at a Holocaust Remembrance Day event Sunday afternoon.
“We mourn for those taken from the world during the Holocaust, those that survivors knew and those that we never knew but are a part of us and deserve to be remembered,” said Janet Stein Calm, president of American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants of Greater Boston, before calling on survivors to light a first candle in remembrance.
The event, held at Faneuil Hall and attended by a number of city representative, Jewish community leaders and Boston Holocaust survivor community, marked the upcoming Yom HaShoah — a day of remembrance for the approximately six million Jewish people killed during the Holocaust and the people’s heroism and resistance during the genocide.
Yom HaShoah will be observed around the world beginning Monday evening through Tuesday evening.
Families and loved ones came forward first to light a candle for the six million, then individual survivors and descendants who’ve passed away in the last year, reflecting on the incredible and meaningful lives and work of those who made it to live beyond the genocide.
“With Aron’s passing we lose a dear member of our community and we have another hole with a piece of our history,” Calm said of Aron Greenfield, a survivor who lost seven siblings and both parents in the Holocaust and gave talks at hundreds of schools on his experience before his death. “A missing link to a world destroyed.”
The event featured testimony from Jack Trompetter, who was born to a Jewish family into a Nazi-occupied Holland at the start of World War II.
Trompetter was separated from his parents as they were forced into hiding to increase his chance of survival, he explained. As a baby and toddler, he was passed from his aunt to an orphanage and rescued by the gentile couple who took his parents in before being taken in by a family of poor farmers where his parents miraculously found him again years later.
He continues to speak about this, Trompetter said, to remind people of the horrible truth of humans but also the importance of the “upstanders” who risked everything to help him and his family survive.
“I feel that when I — one of the youngest survivors — when I’m gone, the story will then be told by scholars, there will be no more survivors, and the yearning to turn this into a sweeter or more bearable story will become the norm,” said Trompetter. “And this is blindness.”
Reflecting on the rise of antisemitism and violence today, several speakers echoed the pressing need to keep these stories alive.
“Thank you again for remembering what we fought to end and reaffirming our collective commitment to continue fighting each day to prevent this from ever happening again and to stand up, be upstanders in the world that we live in today,” said Mayor Michelle Wu.