Every Person Has a Name – Yom Hashoah 2016

Lekol Ish yesh Shem – Every Person Has a Name

The Holocaust, indisputably revealed to the world how a tensed bipolar society can drift into human failure. It is not pure knowledge, but moral values that are the essence of what “never again” means, we must remember that it was a nation of “thinkers and poets” that were capable of these horrific acts. Therefore, we share a common responsibility of upholding and fostering those values, that were created as a lesson of what happened then. Never again should people be persecuted for their political affiliation, their belief, their ethnicity or their sexual identity. With our every day decisions, even by avoiding a choice, we constitute the determinant factor of where history leads us.

Benny Fischer

EUJS President

EUJS would like to take this opportunity to share 6 different stories of young people who through their activities either during the war or in the years after, have subsequently contributed to ways we, as young people in the 21st century understand the Holocaust and the meaning of remembrance. By naming these 6 individuals, we remember the 6 million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust, reflect upon their memory and striving to uphold the meaning of what Zelda Mishkovsky wrote in her poem: “Every Person Has a Name”.

Tosia Altman

Tosia Altman was born in Poland in 1918. Preceding the war, Altman, Hashomer Hatzair (Zionist Socialist Youth Movement) member and leader worked as a courier, making contact with Jewish resistance groups outside the Warsaw ghetto and providing them with regular updates on resistance clashes. Besides, she also provided educational material that was banned by the occupying German forces. She was critical in helping to smuggle weapons and explosives into the Ghetto in order to assist in the uprising directed by the Jewish Fighting Organization ZOB. In April 1943, the Ghetto was surrounded and Altman, who was now an official in the ZOB, moved to a bunker at 18 Mila Street alongside Mordechai Anielewicz, the Uprising leader. As the situation in the Warsaw ghetto worsened, Altman went out on rescue missions to retrieve fighters trapped in the burning sections of the ghetto. On 24 May having suffered severe burns, she was taken into custody by the Gestapo and died shortly afterwards, receiving no medical treatment.

Enzo Sereni

After obtaining his PHD in Rome in 1927, he emigrated to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine and helped create Kibbutz Givat Brenner where he advocated for co-existence between Jews and Arabs. Sereni was sent to Europe in 1931 to help bring potential Nazi victims to the Holy Land. During the war, Sereni joined the British Army and thereafter helped organise the Jewish parachute unit of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) which sent secret agents into occupied Europe. On 15th May 1944, after having been parachuted into Northern Italy, Sereni was captured by the the German authorities and immediately sent to Dachau concentration camp where he was shot on 18th November 1944. Today, Kibbutz Netzer Sereni as well as many streets throughout Israel are named after him.

Irena Sendler

Sendler was born in 1910 in a town close to Warsaw. When the Germans invaded Poland, Sendler Joined the polish underground resistance: she worked tirelessly to rescue Jewish children, helping them escape from the ghetto, and finding them shelter in orphanages, families and convents. When she rescued a child she changed his name, and noted down his real name in a notebook that she then hid. At the end of her activity there were 2500 names written in that book, representing 2500 lives she saved. Sendler was captured by the Gestapo, imprisoned, tortured, but never revealed the names of either the children she rescued or the families and convents that protected them. Thanks to the resistance, she broke out of prison, but for the rest of the war was pursued by the Gestapo. The children she was responsible for saving never knew her name until she was publicly awarded. In 1965 she was accorded the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. She passed away on May 12, 2008.

Tom Lantos

Tom Lantos, being of Jewish decent, was imprisoned and sent to a forced labour camp outside of Budapest at the age of 16. After a failed attempt to flee, he was able to escape and reach Budapest. He is one of the approximately 1000 Hungarian Jews that survived the Shoah due to the help of the Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg. Lantos, became a congressman who spent decades on promoting and fighting for human rights. After his death, Congress permanently established the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which continues the work of The Human Rights Caucus. In the final weeks of his life, Tom asked that a non-profit be established to carry on the work he felt so passionately about – The Tom Lantos Institute.

Alice Herz-Sommer

Watch our fifth inspirational story of the day; the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, an 109 year-old Holocaust survivor who brought the “beauty” of music to a place of despair, hopelessness and death. Click here to watch.

Every Person Has a Name

In memory of all those who will continue to be unnamed, their voices unheard, their stories untold.

Every Person has a Name – Zelda Mishkovsky

Every person has a name
given to him by God
and given to him by his parents

Every person has a name
given to him by his stature 
and the way he smiles
and given to him by his clothing

Every person has a name
given to him by the mountains
and given to him by his walls

Every person has a name
given to him by the stars
and given to him by his neighbors

Every person has a name
given to him by his sins
and given to him by his longing

Every person has a name
given to him by his enemies
and given to him by his love

Every person has a name
given to him by his feasts
and given to him by his work

Every person has a name 
given to him by the seasons
and given to him by his blindness

Every person has a name
given to him by the sea and
given to him
by his death