Ohio Governor’s Holocaust Commemoration honored victims and survivors
Louise Gips received a standing ovation in the Statehouse atrium after she recounted her family’s story of surviving Siberian labor camps during the Holocaust.
“Of course there was disease, starvation — a lot of starvation because we were hungry,” Gips, of Cleveland, said during the 43rd Annual Ohio Governor’s Holocaust Commemoration.
She also shared her late husband’s story of how he posed as Christian in order to work on a farm after fleeing Poland before being forced to hide in the woods for more than a year as a young teenager.
“There are two types of survivors: the ones that speak about it and can’t forget and the ones who will never say a word about it,” Gips said. “I realized early on that if all of us don’t speak, history will inevitably repeat itself.”
Antisemitism and educating young people about the Holocaust were brought up by several speakers during Thursday event that was attended by more than 150 people.
The Anti-Defamation League recorded a record-high 3,697 antisemitic incidents in the United States in 2022. Antisemitic harassment increased 29%, antisemitic vandalism skyrocketed 51% and antisemitic assaults went up 26% in 2022, according to ADL.
The number of incidents in Ohio has also been on the rise. The Buckeye State had 61 incidents in 2022, 50 incidents in 2021, 43 incidents in 2020, and 25 incidents in 2019, according to the ADL.
Despite the Jewish population making up slightly more than 2% of the United States population, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s reported 51% of religion-related incidents were anti-Jewish, according to their FBI’s 2021 Hate Crime Statistics Supplemental Report.
“We know that anti-semitism exists in this country today,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said. “We see evidence of it and we must constantly be vigilant to denounce that whenever we see that.”
He issued an executive order just over a year ago that defined antisemitism using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition. The order requires all state agencies, departments, boards, commissions, and public colleges and universities to adopt the definition.
Rabbi Joseph Schonberger prayed the world would overcome hate and antisemitism.
“Antisemitism has now risen again to its highest level,” he said. “… Survivors … would implore everyone not to succumb to evil. Set aside ulterior motives and division and lift up each other in humility with compassion.”
Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, and Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, shared their remarks in pre-recorded videos.
“Today more than ever we need to set an example for our young people, our Ohio students and children that we will never forget the Holocaust,” Huffman said.
The Ohio House passed the two-year budget Wednesday that includes funding for a a variety of Holocaust educational opportunities such as $175,000 each fiscal year to create Ohio-specific curriculum related to Holocaust education, $200,000 each fiscal year to be used for Ohio K-12 students to visit one of Ohio’s Holocaust education and memorial museums, and $250,000 each fiscal year to be used to to create teacher training courses at colleges and universities related to the Holocaust.
“This is the largest state allocation ever for holocaust education in Ohio and it is a model for other states,” Stephens said.
The budget nows head to the Ohio Senate.
“A Train Near Magdeburg”
Columbus-based director Mike Edwards talked about his upcoming documentary “A Train Near Magdeburg” that is based on the 2016 book by Matthew Rozell that is about the liberation of a death train in Nazi Germany.
“Our young people today desperately need a core set of beliefs and principles modeled and taught to them so that when they encounter their moments of decision, they can draw from those core beliefs and choose what is right,” Edwards said.
He is not Jewish and said he often gets asked why he is doing this project.
“My answer is simple — because I’m a dad from Ohio,” he said. “I must be able to look my children in the eye and know that I tried to do what I could to show my children how to be human and to show what can happen when you show kindness to others.”
Many people wiped their eyes after the trailer of “A Train Near Magdeburg” was shown.
This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.
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