Students’ film added to official Holocaust museum in Israel

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) — Never forget. These are two of the most commonly uttered words when it comes to the Holocaust.

Liberty University students Jared Brim and Tim Moraski said they plan to do just that after a recent experience they said has touched them in a way they never expected.

During a LU Send trip to Israel over Thanksgiving break, the students filmed “Remember,” a short documentary about the Holocaust, for community service credit.

Now, six months later, their short film, which featured Holocaust survivor Judith Rosenzweig, has been added to the Visual Center at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust museum and remembrance center, as part of its digital film library.

“It’s more humbling than anything else for these gentlemen,” said David Welch, executive director of LU Send, which oversees all of the university’s travel programs.

“They weren’t aiming to have their name recorded in history or anything along those lines. All they wanted was to complete their project with excellence. They wanted to put the work in to show these precious people they stand with them and they support Israel.”

Before beginning this journey, Brim, a sophomore film major, and Moraski, a senior studying business project management, said they knew very little about the mass genocide during World War II that took the lives of six million Jews and an estimated five million non-Jews.

This is not surprising, as many U.S. states do not require their school systems to teach about the Holocaust or other genocides.

A new study released April 12 — the same day the world commemorated Yom HaShoah, known in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day — revealed almost half of U.S. adults could not name any of the more than 40,000 concentration camps and ghettos in Europe during World War II. The same study also noted 66 percent of millennials did not know what Auschwitz was.

Meeting and interviewing 88-year-old Rosenzweig at the Haifa Home for Holocaust Survivors, the assisted-living facility in Northern Israel where she lives, gave Brim and Moraski a different perspective.

“In school and in books, I feel like you learn about it in terms of numbers,” said Moraski. “. But when you meet someone, it’s a real life, it’s a real person. It’s real stories. . They had kids, they had parents. It becomes a lot more real instead of in terms of stats. It’s a name. It’s a face.”

Born in 1930 in what was then the Republic of Czechoslovakia, Rosenzweig was 9 years old when the Germans arrived and the occupation began. In 1942, Rosenzweig, then 12, and her family were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia and transferred to Auschwitz two years after that.

Auschwitz was liberated in January of 1945, but Rosenzweig, as well as her mother and sister, had already been transferred a few weeks earlier to Bergen-Belsen in Northern Germany; Rosenzweig’s mother would die one week after they were liberated from the concentration camp that April.

After the war, Rosenzweig moved to Israel and became a nurse, though she returned to her home briefly with her sister, where they found their brother and learned of their father’sdeath.

Rosenzweig did not voice her experiences in the Holocaust for the next 40 years, she told Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, in a 2017 interview, only deciding to speak up when she learned of those denying the events ever took place.