Nov 2010 Journal

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A call to the Third Generation

3G is not just a mobile network! I am a member of 3G - by which I mean I am a member of the Third Generation of those born after the Holocaust. My late grandfather was a survivor; neither of my parents experienced the Holocaust. Although I have not chosen this identity, it is one I am now beginning to embrace more than ever. This is a label I wear with mixed feelings: pride, anxiety, guilt and a sense of duty. It is this last category that I wish to expand on - this consciousness that I am in some way, together with other 3G members, bound to continue the work of the First and Second Generations. They have built for us the foundations we need to develop. They depend upon our generation to continue their important work in the fields of Holocaust testimony, education and the fight against racism, as well as providing a support network for those directly or indirectly affected by the Holocaust.

With the demise of the first generation of Holocaust survivors, it is now even more important for the next generations to show their commitment to continuing the memory of what these men and women experienced. Compared to our parents and grandparents, we, the Third Generation, have an easy task. They spent hours collecting and recording testimonies, gathering evidence and writing memoirs. All we have to do is to continue to tell these testimonies.

My grandfather, who came to England on the Kindertransport, did not share his own experiences with the family, which is not uncommon. When he died suddenly three years ago, my interest in the Holocaust deepened. Having always attended the Yom Hashoah event in Manchester and knowing many of the survivors in the local community, I wanted to learn more about this time in history from an academic as opposed to a purely emotional perspective. I enrolled in the Masters in Holocaust Studies course at Manchester University. Living in Manchester, a community with many Holocaust survivors, it is easy to forget how important their stories are. Their faces are known to many yet, as the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. And yet for many, knowledge of the Holocaust remains limited. With a wide mix of students - from Polish Studies, Politics, Russian Studies and History - and with passionate and knowledgeable tutors, the course was eye-opening (I urge anyone interested to investigate it on the University website). I am not preaching that it is necessary for everyone to undertake academic research into this area, but to show a concern.

What became very apparent as the academic year progressed was the importance of memory. While this may sound obvious, it is vital that memory and testimony be preserved. Yet who is responsible for this preservation? Survivors who have felt able and have recorded their own testimony in various formats have fulfilled their own duty. It is now vital that the legacy of the survivors is continued and it is time that the Third Generation shows its commitment to their grandparents while there is still the time for the First Generation to appreciate that we care. We must now demonstrate to our grandparents that we are committed to continuing their work, and that of the Second Generation, with dedication and enthusiasm. As adults ourselves, we can no longer rely on our parents to preserve and educate: we must now share this responsibility and do so with a sense of pride.

Another vital issue is the need for a 3G support network for those who require help and advice, as the psychological issues that have plagued some members of the Second Generation have unfortunately been passed on to some members of the Third Generation.

What I am suggesting therefore is an official Third Generation group linked to, yet remaining independent of, the First and Second Generations. As for the specifics, they depend on what other Third Generation members believe is necessary. But, like all groups, we need a starting point and I am hoping that this could be it. This is my call to all Third Generation members, regardless of age, knowledge of the Holocaust, and previous attendance at Holocaust-related events - it is now time that we organise some form of collective to ensure the future of Holocaust remembrance.

I urge all who are interested to contact me at third.generation@hotmail.co.uk.

While there are still survivors, let us demonstrate to them that we are not only prepared but privileged to be able to continue their legacy.
 

Hannah Goldstone

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