When my grandmother, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz, arrived as a refugee in the United States in 1949, she brought little more with her than a few pocket photos and memories of her family and life in Poland before the war. She was a survivor of the Holocaust and she’d lost nearly everything she’d ever loved.
With a heart breaking pain that I can’t begin to imagine, my grandmother watched as her family left for the trains that would carry them to their deaths. She and her younger sister were able to escape — going into hiding when she was just fifteen. Sitting around the kitchen table, she would recall the acts of kindness, twists of fate and unimaginable courage it took to survive.
Eventually she began to depict her story using the tools she knew best — needle and thread — bringing to life her family, her childhood home, and, ultimately, her story of loss and survival. Recently, I shared her artwork at a United to End Genocide conference where I also heard stories from people who had survived modern day genocides — some that are still unfolding throughout the world today.
And this Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am standing with United to End Genocide to renew the promise — “never again!” — to keep history from repeating itself anywhere in the world where innocent people face the threat of genocide.
When I hear the stories of the loss, death, violence and survival of innocent people in Sudan, Syria, Burma or anywhere else crimes against humanity are playing out, I renew my promise not only to continue to tell my grandmother’s story but also to continue my work to make sure these kinds of atrocities are stopped — wherever they are happening.
If my grandmother were alive today, I know she would join me in supporting efforts to stop genocide around the world. Thank you for standing with me in supporting United to End Genocide in honor of the millions of people who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from such unspeakable violence.