Be a blogger! It’s easy. Post your thoughts here by replying to what others are saying.

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About Holocaust Museum Houston

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, we teach the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
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19 Responses to Be a blogger! It’s easy. Post your thoughts here by replying to what others are saying.

  1. Suzanne Sutherland says:

    I have meant to blog all along but just plain had no words for what we were taking in.

    Today, though, I do want to say one thing. Someone said something about the trees at Ravensbruck being silent witnesses. They are not silent. They sing even still of great sadness. They remember.

  2. Sandi Hedrick says:

    Precious friends, your words are as chilling as I imagine the weather. How brave all of you are for taking on this mission for all of us! Those who suffered so much and died with so little have shared their great strength with all of you, and you honor their memory! Stay safe and come home soon to all of the MANY blessings we all share.

    Blessings!
    Sandi

  3. Hazel says:

    I have just been reading Brad’s blog and wanted to say how his blog hit me. As a mother I too felt intense emotion regarding my daughters when I went to Aushwitz. As parents we bring ourselves into the plight of parents during the Holocaust and our emotions take over. The thoughts of “what would we have done? How would we have handled the fear not being able to protect our children? Could we have lived through what so many parents did during the turmoil of the Holocaust?” We can’t and we must not try to put ourselves in their places. We don’t know what we could have or would have done to protect the children. All we can do is protect all children from this ever happening again. That is what we do at HMH by education and love. Brad your wife knew you needed something and she gave you the most precious gift of all….laughter of your daughter. Showing your emotion is the way to connect with the past and of course your friends on the tour. Stay strong. Hazel

  4. Jerry Rochman says:

    Wed, 3/16/11 – Buchenwald

    As the swirling fog rolled in and obscured the Thuringia countryside, we made our way
    six short miles from the art and culture of Weimar to the inhumanity of Buchenwald, the largest of all Nazi extermination or concentration camps.

    As this was the first camp on this trip that I had not previously visited, I was uncertain about what I was going to see. Would it be as heart wrenching as Dachau or Mathausen or might it be different. Could this even be a “better” place?

    If I was hoping for any easier visit it was not to be. The feeling of Buchenwald matched the the chill in the air. We were all cold and be here made us all colder.

    Buchenwald is a place of terror, of barbarism beyond one’s wildest imagination. A place where music played while unsuspecting prisoners were murdered by a bullet to the back of the neck, while they thought their height was being measured. A place where the SS had a zoo built door their children’s enjoyment, not 50 yards from the crematoria.

    We had a singular moving experience as we all lit memorial candles and recited Kaddish in memory and remembrance of all who perished here. All members of the group participated, as the words of Kaddish reverberated through the ghostly stillness of the place.

    How, people ask me can you visit these horrible places ? Why do you do it, they ask. My answer to them is “How can I not?” I need to remember , I need to shed a tear, I need to to silently scream ” NEVER AGAIN!”. But I also visit these places to be inspired by the brave and courageous people that for me define the word ” hero” .

    • Hazel says:

      Jerry as I sit here in the comfort of my home, T.V. on telling of the horror in Japan, I read your words and they go to the core of my being. I stand with you saying Kaddish from my heart….I feel the cold that you felt. My thought when I stood at Auschwitz on a day of dreary skies, wind and rain and I thought, until I read your words, that the cold was from the outside, now I know that even if the day was warm and beautiful, standing in a place of unbelievable hatred and brutality, the cold came from the inside. Your words bring me back to my trip and I feel with you and am standing beside you. Thank you so much. Hazel

    • Ron Grabois says:

      Ron Grabois – 3/18/11

      Today I feel we won. We finished the day, after Ravenbruck and Sachenshausen and we went to services at the RYKSTRASSE SYNAGOGUE, the biggest of the old Berlin synagogues. It is restored and gorgeous. We were part of a small but vibrant group and singing with the Jews of Berlin was just amazing. I feel that we won. Kaddish at the end just tied it all together after what we have seen and felt.

  5. Slocklear says:

    Susan Locklear

    There is a dicotomy of size in my mind after the third camp today. Big ideas and small minds. Tiny cells and immense camps. Long train rides and shortened lives. Tiny pebbles on the walkways and huge stones carried from quarries. We are a small part of a larger story. I am honored and humbled to be included. Susan L

    • Jerry Rochman says:

      3/15/11- Munich and Dachau

      A walking and driving tour of beautiful Munich. Like most German cities Munich suffered terrific damage at the hands of Allied bombers, but they have chosen to rebuild their city as it was, with a beautifully reconstructed Old Town, a bustling city center and in this city of 1.5 million people the tallest building is a 12 story hotel.

      We were made aware of a new synagogue in Munich, located very close to the main part of the city center. Not certain if we could get in for a visit we went, told them who we were and why we wanted to visit and after some questioning we were admitted by an Israeli security guard.

      The synagogue is breathtaking. Opened on Nov 8, 2006 on the 66th anniversary of Kristalnacht, the synagogue is built of Jerusalem stone and has a skylight roof and back drop which on this beautiful day saturated the sanctuary with light. We all marveled at the beauty and at the meaning of a brand new synagogue opening in Munich.

      Dachau, a suburb of Munich is probably the easiest concentration camp for a visitor to reach and is within easy reach of millions of people who want to come here to learn. This was my 4th visit here and since my last visit here in July of 2006 visitors now get to enter the camp along the same road the prisoners did, from the train station, across a small creek and through the iron gates reading, Arbeit Mach Frei.

      As much as we docents think we know about the Nazi horrors, I am always amazed at the brutality and efficiency of the Nazi treatment of prisoners. Who could ever conceive of hanging prisoners directly in drone of the crematoria?
      I have to ask myself – were these the actions of warped minds or of brilliant minds, that were tragically misused? Were these seemingly normal family men insane or were they as normal as you or me, with a blind hatred, that sprang from blind obedience?

      The barracks area which I had never seen before was terribly disturbing – an endless row of small cells for “special prisoners” and in the center of the row rooms for torture and medical experiments. I walked this endless, featureless row of cells and with few people here the only sounds I heard were my footsteps echoing in the terrible silence.

    • Ron Grabois says:

      We have done Dachau, Mauthausen and Buchenwald. Just unbelievable. Dachau was not set up for Jews but Jews did suffer along with many Germans. The toughest camp for me had to be Buchenwald. Mauthausen was just as described, peaceful, pastoral, the surrounding area looks like it has not changed in 100 years. The monuments put up by each country are beautiful and appropriate. Some, as expected like Albania, re do the cold war but it is a recognition. Buchenwald on the other hand was just surreal and hard to fathom. We visited Wiemar, the home of some of the great thinkers and Great Germans like Goethe, Schiller, and others like Bach. Then you drive about 15 minutes and there in the forest is this place of mans inhumanity to man. From the 50’s and sun at the first two, it was about 35 degrees, very foggy, and very windy. We were just about frozen. All we could think of was how did the prisoners survive with just pajamas, no food and worked to death. Incomprehensible. We just could not imagine what they went through. Just amazing.

      Today, was Berlin and some fascinating ways to honor and remind people of the horrors of the Holocaust. Brass blocks in the ground, signs that tell of “the synagogue has been destroyed, clean it up and you cannot rebuild” These are all throughout the Jewish quarter of Berlin. We also saw the Topography of Terror, a building on the site of the SS and Gestapo. Enough said about what it deals with. We were pleased to see German students going through the museum. We also visited the site of the Wannsee Conference and did discuss how they teach it to the German students and hopefully our thoughts and concerns would be listened to.

      Yasher Koah, Mary Lee on putting the visits together. Tomorrow off to Ravensbruck and Sachensausen. More mans inhumanity to man ( And Women) in some cases.

  6. Jerry Rochman says:

    3/14/11 A very long day. Drove 2 hours to Salzburg, spent 3 hours there and than back on the bus for another 2 hours to Mauthausen.

    My thoughts were of our survivors who survived the horrors of Mauthausen and Gusen.

    It is very difficult to comprehend the thought of such evil in a place of such stunning natural beauty. The countryside surrounding the Mauthausen is gentle rolling hills, a place of tranquility and peace. As I sat trying to come to terms with what happened there I was sitting overlooking the hills just starting to turn green. I thought that the scene I was looking at, with farmhouses in the distance, probably hasn’t changed much in 65 years. And than I saw white smoke curling up into the sky, smoke from a kitchen and someone cooking dinner and wondered if the starving prisoners of Mauthausen saw the same thing.

    Visiting these sites is a very personal experience. This was an extreme place of starvation, disease and inhuman labor, working in the quarry and having to drag the stone back up the steep stairs, day after day, after day.

    We got back on the bus for a 4 hour trip back to Munich and dinner at the Hofbrauhaus. After what we saw today we were ready to share our experiences amid friends and fellow travelers. Yes, we laughed, we enjoyed the evening, but for me, I cannot get out of my mind the dichotomy of evil and beauty co-existing in the place called Mauthausen.

  7. Hazel says:

    My heart is traveling with all of you. I am so very proud that I can consider myself part of the friendship that has cemented us all from HMH. Reading your comments, Jerry, about the stroll my three favorite men took, I was walking with you and you didn’t even look around! Keep the day’s activities visible for those of us who are also learning from your experiences. I will wake each morning looking forward to reading and learning from you all. We all at home have so much to learn from all of you. Stay well and safe.

  8. Jerry Rochman says:

    Arrived Munich on time and travelled to the hotel by Munich metro. We were able to check in and than went to stroll the pedestrian only areas, ending up at Marienplatz to see the glockenspiel. Somehow the guys lost the women or the other way around, so Ron, Hy and I found our way to viktulienmarkt for lunch, strolled some more, found the new synagogue and Jewish museum, visited the museum where they tell you up front is about the Jews of Munich. Jews have always had a difficult time here and there is essentially no Jewish history here post Holocaust, because most were taken away, never to return.

    Back to the hotel for a short nap and we all convened for dinner at an Italian restaurant suggested by the hotel. Was right down the street from the hotel, although we didn’t walk far enough to see it, so we wandered for an hour looking or it. Was worth it.
    Back to the hotel for some sleep. Meeting the rest of the group at Munich airport early in the morning and than going directly go Nuremberg

    Jerry

    • Those of us arriving on March 13 were greeted at the Munich airport by the people who came in a day early. As we walked through the Customs exit, the rest of our “trip” family greeted us with big waves and strong hugs. Them we were off to travel with Nano, our Croatian bus driver and Thomas, our Hungarian guide. They will be with us throughout our trip. We drove to Nuremberg where we spent a fascinating day seeing Courtroom 600 and the recently opened exhibition (excellent!). We had a superb guide, Tom. Lunch in old market square then we went to the Documentation Center and Nazi Party Rally grounds. We talked about Ruth Brown and her work at the trials. We started our explorations in the courtroom where the world began to come to legal terms with Holocaust actions and then saw, through exhibition and being at the rally field, the spaces where Nazi fervor was acted out. Today, we shift gears as we travel to Austria and Mauthausen. We will be thinking of Walter Kase and Wolf Finkelman.

    • Hazel says:

      Jerry, yesterday Mickey entertained some of her church friends along with Ruth & Larry Steinfeld and “Peaches”. She had a slideshow of events at HMH prior to Ruth’s story and lo and behold, there we were, wigs and all. Brought back great memories and made me realize how many times we have laughed at our antics. When we all were new to HMH we never expected that in those hallowed halls we would have times of fun and laughter. I feel that we enter a different “life” as we enter HMH and yes, it is possible to laugh as well as cry. Thank you for being both the clown with me and the teacher you are being on your trip. Hazel

  9. Madeline Podorzer says:

    I can’t believe that it is time for our departure. It will be an incredible experience. I get very emotional when I think of the sites we will visit and their significance to HMH, all of us on the trip and everyone in the world who has been touched by the Holocaust.
    And how special it is to share this experience with such a wonderful group.
    Thanks to everyone who made this trip possible!
    Madeline P.

  10. Ron Grabois says:

    Well it is two days before we leave for another amazing trip under the auspices of the Holocaust Museum Houston and its fabulous Education Director Mary Lee Webeck. I am one of 4 docents and Suzanne Sutherland who also went to Poland and the Czech Republic 3 years ago. On this trip we visited Auschwitz, Belzec, Theresenstadt, Warsaw, Krakow, Prague and other sites of interest to students of the Holocaust. This trip will be as educational, as emotional, and as uplifting as the last trip and I really am looking forward to it. It has been a long struggle to get this trip off the ground and I want to thank Mary Lee, Jerry Rochman and others who would not let this trip die. I can hardly wait.

    Ron Grabois

  11. Mary Lee Webeck

    Jerry, you’ve captured the essence and mission of Holocaust Museum Houston so powerfully in your post. Thanks for being the first to explore this blog and share your thoughts. There is so much to consider, as a person, as a learner, and as a docent and educator. As I’ve said earlier, I’m truly looking forward to the chance to be involved in substantial and sustaining dialogue. Thanks for opening the door so thoughtfully for others to join the conversation. We’re hoping that this blog site will be an opportunity for those on the trip and people following the blog to work together through discussions.

    Some of our travelers leave the USA on Friday and others on Saturday, and as I’ve said earlier, we will convene in Germany, beginning our studies directly after landing.

  12. Jerry Rochman says:

    Two days pre trip and I am both excited and apprehensive about this trip. The excitement comes from traveling with HMH. I am looking forward to traveling with you all and in particular spending time away from HMH and getting to know Mary Lee and Suzanne who I work so closely with at HMH. The apprehension comes from the fact that this trip is different. I have been to Holocaust related sites before, but have been there as a visitor, almost feeling as an outsider as I walked those hallowed grounds. This time I am there as a student of the Holocaust. No doubt I will see things differently this trip, hopefully paying more attention to detail so I will be able to relate what I have learned on my tours.
    On a visit to Auschwitz 7 years ago, emotion overcame me. I felt real, human, not the least bit ashamed as tears fell.

    I am apprehensive because I don’t want my years spent as a docent and speaking about this regularly to have made me dis-passionate. I want to stand at Ravensbruck and Dachau and feel that emotion that makes me passionate about teaching the Holocaust and reaching the children with the museum’s message of the dangers of intolerance and hatred.

    As some of you may know, as part of the museum’s 15th anniversary we have established a bookmark program honoring 15 deceased Houston Holocaust survivors.

    As a member of the HMH docent committee I am responsible for learning and honoring through our tours one particular survivor. I am also responsible for getting the information about the survivor to other docents for whom I am a mentor. The survivor I chose was Sigei Izakson, about whom I knew little. Sigei was in the eyes of a lot of people one of the special people most responsible in the creation of HMH.

    Knowing little about Sigei I was able to track down his son, a Rabbi in Spokane, WA and so I called him. After explaining to him who I was and why I was calling we established a comfort level and ended up speaking on the phone for 2 hours. I learned much about Sigei as a dad, a husband, a man and a Holocaust survivor. I learned of his bravery and his courage and of his friendship of a man who he would not abandon when Buchenwald was liberated.

    Sigei had escaped the forced evacuation of Buchenwald, hid out for 3 days in a hay loft and than when he could have gone anywhere choose to back to Buchenwald to rescue a friend who could not work because of Nazi experimentation on his legs. Sigei returned to Buchenwald and watched from the forest as U.S. Troops and tanks liberated the camp.

    For no apparent reason Sigei’s son told me the name of the friend he returned to Buchenwald to rescue. The friend’s name was Martin Warren, later to become the husband of our beloved Naomi Warren. I was speechless and asked Rabbi Izakson if Martin Warren was from the Houston Warren family. When I told him I knew Naomi we shared a moment frozen in time.

    I write this because at the end of our 2 hour conversation he thanked me and HMH for the bookmark program and keeping the memory of his father alive. He told me that in his eyes I had “adopted” his dad and I promised him that my tour groups will know what the value of friendship is even during the most horrific of times.

    So as my docent friends and I share the stories of 15 survivors, we keep their memory alive and help our visitors to understand that the survivors never wanted to be known as survivors, but as the people they became, as spouses, parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

    • lili gordon says:

      Hi Jerry,

      Your story about Seigi Izakson, and about Martin Warren brings home the message loud and clear; we have to continue to preserve the legacy of our survivors. That is what the new Docent-Survivor Legacy program is all about.
      That’s what those “bookmarks” are all about, to remind the students of the lessons they learned at HMH.

      Education is our weapon. Houston Council of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants’ mission is to send teachers to study in Poland and Israel, a program that Siegi helped found nearly 22 years ago. Our own Susan Myers was one of the teachers sent on those early trips. Every teacher affects thousands of students. The survivors will not be forgotten.

      I wish you and the whole HMH contingent a wonderful and safe trip.
      Lili Gordon

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