'I am confident that the memory of the Holocaust will be kept alive'

 Andrew with his daughter Hannah Webster and Jude his youngest grandchild. (photo credit: Brant Cummings)
Andrew with his daughter Hannah Webster and Jude his youngest grandchild.
(photo credit: Brant Cummings)

Australian Holocaust survivor and sculptor Andrew Steiner: 

"Total commitment, dedication and persistence is required to overcome ignorance, hatred, prejudice and indifference"  

Holocaust survivor and sculptor Andrew Steiner OAM (Order of Australia, an honour that recognizes Australian citizens and other persons for achievement), had been providing education about the Holocaust to students for the past 40 years.

Steiner was born in Budapest in 1933 into a patriotic Jewish family who had lived in Hungary for generations. Following the Arrow Cross (Hungarian Nazis) takeover on 16 October 1944, Andrew, together with his Jewish Star House residents were lined up to be executed. HINENI, bearing witness. Andrew and his family survived the Shoah in hiding. “We experienced numerous close encounters. A split second made the difference between survival and perishing.” Twelve members of his extended family perished in the Holocaust. Andrew has created a memorial with their names and ages. 

After the war, Andrew’s family migrated to Adelaide, Australia in 1948. Andrew created a memorial with their names and ages. Four of his sculptures are presented in the Adelaide Holocaust Museum which opened in 2020. 

 Andrew at the Adelaide Holocaust Museum (credit:  Adelaide Holocaust Museum ) Andrew at the Adelaide Holocaust Museum (credit: Adelaide Holocaust Museum )

Andrew was invited to participate for the first time at March of the Living 2020 but unfortunately, it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the global pandemic is still here, Andrew will not march this year as well: "Naturally, I am disappointed. However, protecting health and safety is vital." 

Asked about if he thinks that virtual learning of the Holocaust can replace the physical presence on the ground, Andrew replied: "I’d like to walk where they walked. I want to see places where they lived and prospered prior to the Shoah. The numerous virtual events of the past two years have been helpful, but they are not equal to being physically present where the Holocaust happened."

Cedric Geffen, the President of March of the Living Australia, who has taken seven delegations to Poland over the 16 years of his involvement in the program, said that he hopes to fulfill Andrew‘s request to march next year: "Holocaust survivors are an essential part in our educational journeys and as long as they can march with us we need to do all we can to make this happen." 

 Cedric Gefen with the Australia delegation in March of the Living (credit: MOTL) Cedric Gefen with the Australia delegation in March of the Living (credit: MOTL)

Asked about the future of Holocaust memory in the next decades, Andrew said that he has absolute faith that the memory of the Holocaust will live on to inspire people to be more caring, compassionate human beings. 

"I have been educating about the Holocaust for 42 years. Having addressed many thousands through university and school presentations and since the establishment of the Adelaide Holocaust Museum —Steiner Education Centre, I am confident that our education program will ensure that the memory of the Holocaust will be maintained," he said. 

Andrew is lobbying for compulsory Holocaust education in South Australia. "Total commitment, dedication and persistence is required to overcome ignorance, hatred, prejudice and indifference," he said.  

Andrew ended his statement with a message to the Jewish people: "We have a great role in ensuring that this greatest tragedy of mankind will never be forgotten. It needs to be part of our annual remembrance."