Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Rene Lichtman - August 13, 1998


Yeah. Now, you're the um, vice president of the International Federation of Child Sur... Child Survivors and Hidden Children.

Of, uh, the Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust.



You're the president of the Hidden Children Organization.


In Detroit.


Founder, actually.


And president. Um, you're have active in um, in uh, Holocaust related activities. You're in the Holocaust Education Coalition. And you weren't always this involved. What, what brought you to all this?

Um, I, I think the realization that um, well, it's, I, it's part of my strong, I mean, I always, I feel I got a strong Jewish identity. I, I, I feel, I always felt, you know, that, that, that we, those, those of us left, had a real responsibility to do something. Um, and uh, um, and so as I, as I listen and again, it has to do with, well, anyway--and I think as I got older, I realize that, that one of the things that I wanted to focus on now was, was um, you know, that part of myself uh, when I was a child and those experiences and the fact that all those people have gone now. And I think um, those of, uh, that's the way to keep the memory and legacy active, is, is for, for the few years that we have left, because it's going to be, you know, already it's history, in the history. You know, it's like Yiddish that I remember loving so much, you know and the language and the and the and the and the, the people in New York and Brooklyn and all that stuff and now it's in the, it's in the colleges because it's dead.

Well, um...

Yeah, it becomes uh, something you study in school because it's no longer,

Well, was, was there an event that touched some of this off?

Well, there was that um, yeah it was that, that, that um, that Hidden, Hidden Child meeting that you, you told me about. And I thought, eh, I don't want to go to that. People talking about the Holocaust, hm. And um...

This was the ADL meeting in New York?

Yeah. It was the, the Hid...Hidden Child um, I think that's before they were called Hidden Child ADL Foundation. It was, it was the Hidden Children, which was an offshoot of child survivors groups on the east coast and the west coast. And, and um, so I attended that meeting and, and I was really, really struck by how significant all of our stories uh, are or were and uh, that it's now, I guess, that stage of your life where you kind of re-evaluate things, you know, even though you left out that I'm also in a Ph.D. program and I'm supposed to be doing...

Well, okay, but that's not Holocaust related.

That's not Holocaust, related. But I'm on all these other things. I mean, I, it's kind of interesting that I, I do have a foot in the future and I also spend a lot of time looking back and trying to get answers, which I think we--I should have gotten a long time ago. But even to this day I think about my cousins in, at, that I just visited in Paris and I, I wish we could have, you know, it's like it's funny, you, you don't have a, forum, you see each other and you kiss and you hug and, and you're not going to sit down and say, well let's talk about the Holocaust, you know. You're--it's, it doesn't happen like that. So you have all these, all these unanswered questions, which I think drive me crazy, because I really would love to have answers to a lot of them. You know, like my mother's town, things like that. So in '91 I became active in and, and said, you know, we have, this is, this is serious business. And, and it's part of the process of, I think, ongoing self-discovery to, to do research into our past. And I think we each had, that's the other thing is, we, we had, I mean, I had and so, okay, big deal, I was hidden, you know. So then I found out that there were all these people hidden under similar conditions and other people under very different conditions. But the thing that we shared, you know, was um, what--there was this bond and I think one of the things we shared is that, you know, that, that they were trying to kill us too. The Germans were also trying to kill us. And, and when I see these pictures of me as a kid or, or all those pictures of these young kids and I'm thinking, you know, they just wanted to kill those people. And it's just, it's just by pure chance or whatever it is that we survived, that we're here. And so it's kind of a, if you want to think of it as a miracle, but it's, it's um, so I feel that we have things to say um, so that's why I got involved.

And you're in a Ph.D. program.


At Wayne State University.


In, in what?

Instruction technology, which is uh, the usage of um, um, technology media in an educational environment. So I've always liked the idea of education, teaching.

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