By Joanne (Strahl) Ashe
We honor the memory of Sonia Schreiber Weitz, one of our original board members, who was a great inspiration to us during the initial creation of this nonprofit organization. She felt a particular affinity for us as an educational program offering film as the tool to teach the necessity of empathy, understanding and acceptance of cultural differences.
Because of her determined and persistent message challenging students to never be bystanders in the face of hatred and injustice, she supported us in our mission to reach millions of school children coping with the consequences of bullying and negative stereotyping in the hope that we could effectively teach mutual compassion and respect.
Born in Krakow, Poland, Sonia Weitz endured the Krakow Ghetto and survived five Nazi death camps during World War II, including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. She lost her parents and more than 80 members of her extended family during the war, yet retained her courage, strength and dignity. Sonia was 16 when the U.S. Army liberated the Mauthausen death camp in 1945.
My father, Maurice Strahl, also a survivor of Mauthausen, and Sonia’s neighbor, in Krakow before the war, recognized her face among the suffering and tormented humans left to die in a Mauthausen bunker. He was able to help her regain her strength and she ultimately survived.
Sonia’s testimony was received by school children all over the USA who were enlightened by her voice. She was a powerful and courageous witness to the needless suffering and pain that results from ignorance. Her willingness to use her own painful experiences to bring her message to students continues to inspire me, as the creator of Journeys in Film, to persevere in my effort to change hearts and minds through our compelling educational program.
Sonia Weitz tells her story through a delicate weave of poetry and prose, I Promised I Would Tell, a memoir, that provides adolescents with a compassionate look at a seemingly loveless world.
The Holocaust Legacy Partner Project to preserve the memory of the Holocaust
As guardians of The Holocaust who bear the responsibility that the world never forget, we find ourselves at a time in history when soon, due to the inevitability of human mortality, there will be no more survivors to provide first hand eyewitness testimony. A highly successful program called Holocaust Legacy Partners had been created and implemented to ensure our survivors place in history. Survivors are partnered with dedicated individuals to carry forward the most intimate details of their Holocaust Experience so that their personal memories and histories can continue in perpetuity. Second and Third Generations of Holocaust survivors, educators, or anyone interested in becoming a part of this vital project should call The Holocaust Center at 978-531-8288.