It is important we remember the worst parts of our history and how they affected those involved as well as the better parts of our past. One of those memories is the Holocaust, when so many families were separated, and many of those who survived never found out what happened to those they loved.
“The Memory Project,” a new multi-media exhibit at the Holocaust Museum Center Zekelman Family Campus, explores that horrific time in a very personal way.
It features the work of artist Roz Jacobs and filmmaker Laurie Weisman and focuses on Jacobs’ uncle Kalman, who disappeared in Poland in 1942. Her mother, Anna, a Holocaust survivor, remembers her younger, mischev brother and shares her memories, along with her story of survival.
It’s appropriate this exhibit opened in May. It was 75 years ago this month that 160,000 Polish Jews were imprisoned in the Lodz Ghetto, where they were subjected to starvation and slavery, before being deported to death camps.
Here is the story of Anna and Kalman from The Memory Project’s website.
“Sometime in 1942, Anna Huberman shared a single bed on a Polish farm with her younger brother, Kalman. The Jewish teens had separately fled from the Warsaw ghetto in an effort to escape starvation and almost-certain death. But after a month, Kalman left Anna to work on a farm and their lives headed in separate directions. Anna was captured by the Nazis and survived the war in a forced labor camp. After Liberation in 1945, she married, started a family, and moved first to Germany, then to the United States,” the website says.
“Kalman’s journey is still a mystery. Did the farmer betray him? Was he killed in a concentration camp? Did he escape and, like his sister, begin a new life in unfamiliar territory?
“Anna has no answers to these questions, but she shared her story with her children, and through the passing down of these memories, a child’s life and identity has been reclaimed and a seamless work of art and history created to memorialize it.”
Ultimately, the exhibit is about a family, who suffered beyond trauma and loss and yet found resiliency and, eventually, joy.
Anna’s story has been made into a documentary called “Finding Kalman: The Movie.” It covers the family’s life before World War II to now, and how four generations grapple differently with their shared history.
Roz Jacobs understands he mother’s pain in stages. Maya, an Israeli granddaughter, plays the viola in an Arab-Israeli youth orchestra, and wonders why there has to be war when she sees the ease of making music with someone defined as her enemy. Roy, Anna’s great-grandson, is concerned that his generation will not understand the Holocaust when it seems like just another story.
It is a story we cannot forget.
Anna was one survivor. Paula Marks-Bolton was another, but her parents and her brothers died in the Lodz Ghetto. She volunteers as a survivor speaker at the Holocaust Center.
Survivor Speaker presentations take place on many days at 2:30 p.m., following the 1:00 p.m. public tour. Upcoming presentations are as follows:
- Wednesday, May 27: Rene Lichtman
- Thursday, May 28: Irene Miller
- Friday, May 29: Esther Lupyan
- Sunday, May 31: Fred Findling
- Wednesday, June 3: Irene Miller
- Thursday, June 4: Esther Lupyan
- Friday, June 5: George Zeff
- Sunday, June 7: Michael Weiss
The Memory Project is available for teachers in grades 6 and up. It provides a free video, as well as print and downloadable materials. The goals are to honor the Holocaust victims, survivors, and rescuers and help students understand they are part of history. It also aims to teach them to connect to their own family histories as artists, storytellers and creators as well as develop their art and presentation skills. You can click here to find out more.
This is only the most recent stop for The Memory Project. It has also been shown around Poland Budapest, Hungary, and museums in other U.S. cities.
The Holocaust Memorial Center is located at 28123 Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills. The exhibit is free with admission or membership to the museum. It runs through August 16.