Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Fred Ferber - September 11 & 25, 2001

Lessons of the Holocaust

B...before we finish today, let me ask you to reflect a little bit on, on what you think might be some lessons from the Holocaust. I, I think you think that Holocaust education is an important part of, of general education. Why do you think that? Why is it important, if you think it is, that people learn about this. And what, and what from your perspective as someone who went through an extraordinary amount, what is your view about the, the, the point of Holocaust education, what it might teach people?

The Holocaust education as such, the facts and figures are nothing but historical facts unless you can break into it eh, deeper reasons for the behavior of the people and more importantly yet of what can we do to prevent it in the future. Just knowing about it, learning about it alone... The, the, the, the, history says that if you don't remember history you're, you're liable to repeat it again. Now the same thing is true in this case. Even knowing history, unless we learn some lessons from it, unless eh, we come to deduce, deduct, deduce...


Deduce from it some, some real factors which will make us better and if you will make the world better in the future. Some understanding of the human nature. Now...

Let me ask you what is you think we learn about human nature from studying the Holocaust?

Human nature as it is eh, we all have certain traits, certain, eh... For instant, we, people are jealous and there's nothing wrong with jealousy. It, it, it depending what you're jealous about. If you're jealous about someone's money, it's, it's not quite right to be jealous. If you're jealous about someone's eh, knowledge, it is okay to be jealous eh, about someone's knowledge and, and, or someone is honorable in town or known for good reasons. So let me say, at one time people in the world had opportunity to hear only one point of view. One point of view. The one from the mothers, the grandmother, from the religious leaders. And these points were skewed in any directions. It was natural to, to, because, natural to listen because you didn't hear any other points of view, eh. We have opportunity now because of the telecommunication that's worldwide to, to, to hear other persons' point of view, eh. It would be, the main thing that we should learn, the school should teach is to accept other religions as well as your own religion. If relig...if other religions eh, do not disturb you, they believe in whatever they want to believe as long as they do you no harm, then you sh...you should respect other people. If one is a painter, one is a mechanic, one is something else, respect their trades just like you re...respect their religion, religious beliefs. Respect their marriages. It's not your marriage. Eh, I, I, I think it's going to take some time yet for, for, for us people eh, to be eh, to be tolerant of other people, of other races, uh. As I stated to you once, when I first seen a black man right after the war, I was so deadly scared, right after concentration camp. Today they're wonderful people, they have good people and they--some not so good. In, in eh, Jewish people have some wonderful people, some not so good. And the, the Catholics, some good, some--we're all pretty much the same. We all have pretty much the same feelings. Uh, it's, it's, it's a long grind in the world to, uh. I, I don't how to, eh. But the root of all, of, of a lot of problems is not willing to hear the other side of the story. I don't know how you're going to teach the people in the world. I think the religious leaders could do very well to get together. And I'm referring, the three major religious leaders, let's say. The, the Muslims, the main religious leader, with the Pope, with the main Jewish Rabbi, whoever he will be and have a meeting one day. And say, you know what, I, you're good guy, we all good guys. Let's teach our people that they're all good people. You respect me, I respect you, let's, let's, let's, let's try to start from the very top. If that can happen at, at the very top, that those three or four or five people-- because there are other religions, the Sheik, and all--if they all can meet and spend a week together discussing and learning eh, common things. You know, the world would look at it and say, well, wait a minute. All, all of a sudden these great people got together, we would probably follow. And that's what's required. Eh, someone eh, from the very top. The people from eh, eh, who, who are empowered to eh, to be the leaders eh, to show us eh, the way. And I think that people would eh, become much more tolerant and much better. That's what we have to strive for. You see, you asked me once about myself what--I'm going to in--just for a moment--what do I, what drives me always, you know. There's one thing that does drive me forever. I mentioned it, on the third day in concentration camp, I told you, I met with my father and my brother. And my father took my brother on the knee and I remember. And he said to us, "In case ever happens to me, you know, eh." There was lunch, there was, there was not the lunch like we know lunch today, you know. I happened to run over from the Metalgemeinschaft, the Tapeziergemeinschaft where I worked at that time eh, and eh, for, for the few minutes that we got together. And my father and my brother and I said, "What you talking about?" Tate said--my father, "What you talking about? We're all going to be okay." He says, "Well, I know, but nevertheless eh, if anything ever happens to us," he told us to take care of the, my mother, to take care of the mother, take care of ourselves and continue on no matter what. And gave us some other good words. And all I can say that after World War II, when I was in City College of San Francisco I wrote a, I wrote a story on that, you know. And I always remembered that. That this is one of those things that I remember. Instructions how to continue on. Eh, that might be one of the motivators in my life.

Just from your father.

That's right. My mother was not part of it. At that time she was working eh, in a different eh, different place outside of the camp. And eh, my father and my brother and I worked in the camp. It was the third day. That's the same day that later on he got killed, he got shot.

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