“I had never talked with someone who had endured so much tragedy and terror,” explained Malcolm Kelner, a high school senior from Hopkins.
“It really was a life-changing experience,” Kelner said.
Kelner is talking about his friend Joe Rozenberg of St. Louis Park. When Rozenberg was 14, Nazis invaded his hometown in Poland. Rozenberg was forced into Auschwitz and two other concentration camps, where he watched as his father was sent to the gas chamber.
Rozenberg lost every member of his family except one sister.
“To be in that situation, at that age,” Kelner said, “how he got through that experience is unbelievable to me.”
Kelner got to know Rozenberg and learn the wrenching details of his life while recording Rozenberg’s oral history through a class at Talmud Torah of Minneapolis.
A $7,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund is allowing ten more students to connect with Minnesota Holocaust survivors before it is too late. Students will create an online video archive of survivors’ stories before, during and after WWII, including their experiences settling and raising families in Minnesota.
“The students are learning life lessons,” said Talmud Torah Executive Director Susie Chalom. “There is hope. You can rebuild your life even after the most devastating thing.”
In 2045, long after all Holocaust survivors are gone, Kelner and his fellow oral historians from Talmud Torah will meet at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Inside, 100 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, they will share their survivors’ stories.
“It's up to the people who did learn their stories to pass them on to the next generation and beyond,” Kelner said. “Their stories must be kept alive so something as horrible as the Holocaust can never happen again.”
This site is updated regularly with descriptions and data related to Legacy projects funded through the Minnesota Historical Society by the Legacy Amendment's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (ACHF).
Further information about the use and impact of all Legacy Funds can be found on the Minnesota Legislative Coordinating Commission's Minnesota's Legacy site.