Survivors’ stories still have so much to teach us about bravery and love.
When I was in labour with my second child, when the pain was at its threshold and my mind was searching for lifelines, for strength, I thought of women giving birth in concentration camps during the Holocaust. I thought of ‘her’ sitting in a dark, filthy space, surrounded by other starved women, her body involuntarily moving to the rhythm of nature but her roar silenced. And I felt a power come over me, a force not to be reckoned with, and I took that strength and I laboured like a wild woman, so grateful for my freedom, so encouraged to face my pain. Because if she could do it, I certainly could too.
I am the granddaughter of four Holocaust survivors, a fate that has gifted me the benefit of perspective. Over the last nine years I have worked with photographer Harry Borden on a book, Survivor: A Portrait Of The survivors Of The Holocaust capturing the stories of survivors the world over. Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day and while some may think it is macabre to hark back to such a dark moment in history, I think pausing to remember helps us understand the world and we can even find inspiration from it. This is the crack, as Leonard Cohen says, where the light gets in. This is where an opportunity to better understand the human spirit presents itself.