Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Noemi Engel Ebenstein - July 22, 1996

Legacy of the Holocaust

But what you said before was that the dominant feeling that you remember from the Holocaust is fear.


Is that the legacy?

Yes, it is. Um, I'm afraid of it happening again. I believe it can happen anywhere. And, as a matter of fact, genocide is not rare in human history. Um, I don't believe we were, we traveled to China, about a year and a half ago. That was, that was not a pleasant trip. And I wrote a collective letter to my kids, just about our travel experiences. We went all the way to Tibet. We flew inside China like eight times. It was interesting, but I felt very uncomfortable in China. And in that collective letter I write something, "Never in my life did I feel so depersonalized as in China." A friend of mine wanted to read the letter. So she read it. She's a social worker. And she stumbled upon this line, which was totally my unconscious. So she said to me, "Noemi, do you, do you make the connection?" I said, "not until you pointed it out to me." I felt depersonalized, dehumanized, um, in China and I guess it, their suffering in their history and what they do to each other within China in terms of oppression. But each time it, it resonates with me. It, it is, it puts fear in my heart, or rather revives the fear that is in my heart. Um, in fact, you know even politically how I am in Israel, um, how I align myself? I see the Palestinians plight, you know, I feel for them. It's hard for me not to. Now my father will tell you they want to kill us, you know. Like he, for him, for all of us it evokes the Holocaust. It's impossible not to. But the question is how it evokes it for you. So, quite a few, like my father or my brother, they say, "The Arabs are trying to wipe us out. We have to be strong this time, not let them." And I somehow see the Palestinians as being the victims and I see myself as victimized. So I don't want to victimize others. I, I just, I have a hard time with it. Even though, even though I realize, you know, the security issues and so on and so forth. And I'm convinced that if they would have won the War of Independence, they would have wiped us out. Or any other war for that matter. But it's, yeah, for me it is the fear. And, and the belief that it can happen again. To the Jewish people as well as other people. But you know what, there is another legacy. The legacy is also of those stories that I insisted on telling here today, of these anonymous people who rose to the occasion. Who, who, who did for people they did not even know. I think that's, that's hopeful. We, we are, I don't know when I am going to be asked to rise to the occasion. And these were simple people who rose to the occasion.

Maybe that's a good place to stop. Somewhere between fear and hope.



Thank you, Sid.

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