This year, Yom HaShoah—or Holocaust Remembrance Day—began on Sunday at sundown and ended the following evening. To remember the 11 million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, disabled persons, and other individuals who perished during the Holocaust, the Holocaust Initiative of Brown University, the Judaic Studies Department, the History Department, and Brown RISD Hillel hosted their second annual “Surviving the Unthinkable” panel.
The event, which took place on Sunday night in the List Arts Center, featured Alice Eichenbaum and Rosaline Granoff, two women whose lives were deeply affected by the Holocaust. Alice Eichenbaum was in Bulgaria during the war, and her husband was in Auschwitz. Rosaline Granoff’s parents were members of a partisan group that lived in the forests and retaliated against the Nazis.
With each year that passes, the amount of Holocaust survivors and others that can relay first-hand accounts of that time dwindles. Here’s what we took away from the stories of Ms. Eichenbaum and Mrs. Granoff.
Mrs. Granoff spoke about her parents and their unorthodox romance. They were partisans, a group rarely discussed in Holocaust history. An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Jewish partisans fought back against the Germans and their allies:
“Imagine being a 21-year-old young woman… in a small town who is left alone in the street in the ghetto, and hears her mother calling out to her as she is headed off to the death camps in a cattle car.”
Mrs. Granoff’s mother was raised in what we now know as Belarus, where her parents owned a home goods store. In 1939 and 1940, her mother’s relatives were taken away into the Soviet Union. They all “disappeared,” never to be seen again. When their small town was completely demolished, Mrs. Granoff’s mother survived. 6,000 people were killed in that attack.