Holocaust victims mourned

YOUNGSTOWN -A special project has been under way to remember and share the stories of the area’s Holocaust survivors so their firsthand accounts will be there for future generations.

The Survivors’ Exhibition Project and Traveling Exhibit dedicated to Holocaust survivor Bill Vegh was unveiled at a Shoah memorial ceremony held Sunday at the Jewish Community Center attended by more than 200 people.

The exhibit was designed by Art Einzig and Dr. Helene Sinnreich of the Youngstown State University Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies.

The theme was ”Never Again: Heeding the Warning Signs.”

Charlotte Kalus of Youngstown and Sonja Schwartz of Liberty are survivors who attended the event. Each lit a special candle to remember those lost to the Holocaust.

Kalus said she remembers Vegh, who was recognized at the event with a special portrait, since the two came from the same area of Czechoslovakia. She said Vegh is also buried near her husband, Martin Kalus, who died in 2006 and was also a Holocaust survivor.

”I’m very happy to be part of this,” said Kalus, who was at the event with her daughter, Eva Cropp of Liberty.

”This means a lot to her and the rest of us is that people have not forgotten the Holocaust because it should never happen again. There is so much hope that people are still willing to talk about it,” Cropp said.

She said her mother went through Auschwitz and still has the number on her arm.

Schwartz also said the event meant a lot to her.

She said she came to the United States in 1939 and remembers Vegh.

”He was a wonderful person and did so much good. He shared the message that was important to all of us,” she said.

Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said that during the ”Days of Remembrance” week there have been various events held including a Holocaust Memorial program last Thursday at the Mahoning County Courthouse where local students were recognized for their essays.

”This is a community commemoration where we gather together with our survivors, our children and grandchildren of survivors to mourn those we have lost and celebrate those who survive and continue to work on remembering,” Deutsch Burdman said.

She said it is important to remember that generation which is disappearing.

The children and grandchildren of those who died or were survivors and have since died also lit candles.

Unveiled at the event was a 15-minute documentary ”Bill Vegh’s Story: A Holocaust Survivor’s Legacy” which features Vegh, who died three years ago, sharing his story. The video will be part of the traveling exhibit that will go to schools and to community organizations.

Deutsch Burdman said it is important to educate younger generations on the Holocaust, which to many of them is ”ancient history.”

”We have created a traveling exhibit to educate the students and the public which will be ready in the fall,” she said.

The exhibit is seven feet wide with eight large lighted panels.

Rochelle Miller said the tribute to her father, Vegh, will keep all he has done alive for future generations.

”This is a tribute to him,” Miller said.

A special portrait of Vegh was unveiled at the event. It was done by Bailey Grover, 13, an eighth-grader at Canfield Middle School.

Miller said the event will memorialize those who perished and honor those who survive.

”It is important that those in the next generations must ensure that the legacy of our survivors and their commitment to education always be served,” Miller said.

Sinnreich said the significance of the event is it provides an opportunity for the community and city to come together and remember what happened during the Holocaust.

”This particular ceremony is an opportunity to mourn the loss of the six million Jews. This week helps raise awareness and helps us remember to fight against other genocides,” she said.

Rabbi Joseph Schonberger of Temple El Emeth said it is important to keep loved ones’ voices alive.

”Our being here serves a higher purpose. We are here out of love and devotion for the precious souls who have perished and to those who survive. They are sadly missed. It is important that we carry on their message,” he said.