'Deterioration of European Holocaust memorial sites must be reversed'

"The next decade is crucial because Holocaust survivors, the eyewitnesses to the events, will be gone," says Dr. Florence Luxenberg-Eisenberg.

April 14, 2015 18:54
2 minute read.
Jewish cemetery Bochnia

DR. FLORENCE Luxenberg-Eisenberg at a Jewish cemetery in Bochnia, Poland. (photo credit: Courtesy)

In 2011, over a one-year period, Dr. Florence Luxenberg-Eisenberg and a colleague traveled to 13 Holocaust memorial sites in Poland, Germany, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic to analyze the countries’ preservation standards of death camps and cemeteries.

Her research, documented in a 468-page dissertation on combating Holocaust denial, revealed that many of the sites of mass exterminations of Jews are frequently not well maintained and in urgent need of restoration.

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The purpose of my research was to check out the physical conditions of the camps and to meet the people who work there to manage them,” said Luxenberg-Eisenberg, who lives in Karmiel and teaches at Zefat Academic College's English department.

Noting the rapidly diminishing community of Holocaust survivors, Luxenberg-Eisenberg said Holocaust Remembrance Day is a critical time to take action to preserve the extermination and memorial sites for future generations.

“The next decade is crucial because Holocaust survivors – the eyewitnesses to the events – will be gone,” she said. “As a result, Israel’s way of thinking vis-à-vis Holocaust remembrance must also change.”

To that end, Luxenberg-Eisenberg said, Israel must take on a greater role in working with European governments to ensure the proper management and preservation of neglected Holocaust sites.

“Protecting the truth depends on the attitudes of governments,” she said. “A lot of people in Israel don’t know about the places I’ve gone to. My thing is to stress the importance of preserving mass graves and create awareness that there are people who work day in and day out to preserve these places.”

Accordingly, she added, the Israeli government must actively prioritize ensuring that the sites are properly maintained.

“Memory is an abstract word, and we forget the over 6 million Jews killed had a name, belonged to a community and had a family,” she said. “It’s the Jewish people who have to take more of an interest in what is happening in these places.”

Indeed, Luxenberg-Eisenberg, who also specializes in Holocaust denial, stressed that the Jewish people are at a critical juncture, and must take action now to fight revisionists to preserve the history of survivors, who will soon no longer be able to speak for themselves.

“We’ve reached an impasse,” she said. “We really don’t know what to do from here, now that the survivors are dying, so presentation of the authentic evidence helps combat denial.”

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