State Holocaust Program Honors Georgians at Capitol
search
NewsLocal

State Holocaust Program Honors Georgians at Capitol

After a pandemic-forced hiatus, the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust returned to the Georgia State Capitol House of Representatives for an in-person Days of Remembrance program.

  • The Lovejoy High School Junior ROTC performed the Presentation of Colors, with Commissioner of Veterans Service Patricia Ross leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
    The Lovejoy High School Junior ROTC performed the Presentation of Colors, with Commissioner of Veterans Service Patricia Ross leading the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul read the narrative of the late Judge Aaron Cohn, who was among the liberators of the Ebensee concentration camp in Austria.
    Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul read the narrative of the late Judge Aaron Cohn, who was among the liberators of the Ebensee concentration camp in Austria.
  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger delivered remarks, saying that “never again” should be more than a slogan.
    Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger delivered remarks, saying that “never again” should be more than a slogan.
  • Sally Levine, Georgia Commission on the Holocaust executive director, welcomed attendees to the official state Holocaust remembrance observance at the State Capitol House Chambers.
    Sally Levine, Georgia Commission on the Holocaust executive director, welcomed attendees to the official state Holocaust remembrance observance at the State Capitol House Chambers.
  • Emory University President Gregory Fenves told a compelling story about how his father, Steven Fenves, who is now nearly 91 years old, survived the Holocaust and became an American citizen. // Photo courtesy of Emory University
    Emory University President Gregory Fenves told a compelling story about how his father, Steven Fenves, who is now nearly 91 years old, survived the Holocaust and became an American citizen. // Photo courtesy of Emory University
  • Members from the international Consular Corps lit candles honoring Holocaust victims, rescuers, liberators and survivors.
    Members from the international Consular Corps lit candles honoring Holocaust victims, rescuers, liberators and survivors.
  • Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr read the official state proclamation for Holocaust Days of Remembrance.
    Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr read the official state proclamation for Holocaust Days of Remembrance.
  • The 2022 Holocaust survivor and liberator honorees in attendance: (left to right) Manuela Bornstein, Hershel Greenblat, Hibby Margol, Robert Ratonyi, Ben Walker, Lucy Carson, Regine Rosenfelder and Suzan Tibor.
    The 2022 Holocaust survivor and liberator honorees in attendance: (left to right) Manuela Bornstein, Hershel Greenblat, Hibby Margol, Robert Ratonyi, Ben Walker, Lucy Carson, Regine Rosenfelder and Suzan Tibor.

After a pandemic-forced hiatus of two years, the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust returned to the Georgia State Capitol House of Representatives for an in-person Days of Remembrance program Friday morning, April 29. The annual event, which coincides with Yom HaShoah, is the official state Holocaust remembrance observance.

This year’s theme, “Promise of America,” poignantly focused on what it meant to survive the horrors of the Holocaust and World War II and find a new life grounded in freedom in America.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul read the narrative of the late Judge Aaron Cohn, who was among the liberators of the Ebensee concentration camp in Austria.

Georgia Commission on the Holocaust Executive Director Sally Levine elaborated in her welcome address: “Citizenship is the common thread that connects all Americans. We are a nation bound by our shared values of freedom, liberty and equality. Throughout our history, the United States has become the home of people fleeing oppression and striving for a better life for themselves, their families and future generations. Their efforts have helped shape and define the country we know today. Their contributions help preserve our legacy as a land of freedom and opportunity.”

The program opened with video-recorded greetings from Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp, who emphasized the importance of observing the memory of the Holocaust. Georgia State Attorney General Chris Carr read the official state Days of Remembrance Proclamation in person, followed by remarks from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Emory University President Gregory Fenves told a compelling story about how his father, Steven Fenves, who is now nearly 91 years old, survived the Holocaust and became an American citizen. // Photo courtesy of Emory University

Two teachers were presented with the Distinguished Educator Award for advancing Holocaust education and promoting citizenship among their students. Gordon Mathis of the Galloway School received the 2020 award since the in-person program was canceled that year. Dr. Eddie Bennett, executive director of the Georgia Council for the Social Studies, received the honor for 2022.

Eighteen members of the international Consular Corps based in Atlanta participated in the candle lighting ceremony portion of the program honoring all Holocaust victims and survivors, including eight Georgia Holocaust survivors and two Georgia World War II liberators.

The 2022 Holocaust survivor and liberator honorees in attendance: (left to right) Manuela Bornstein, Hershel Greenblat, Hibby Margol, Robert Ratonyi, Ben Walker, Lucy Carson, Regine Rosenfelder and Suzan Tibor.

The consuls represented 13 nations: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

GCH Board members, Georgia legislators and other officials read the bios and personal statements of each of this year’s 10 honorees, who were: Manuela Bornstein (France); sisters Regine Dollman Rosenfelder and Suzan Dollman Tibor (Belgium), along with their cousin Lucy Rosenblith Carson (Belgium); Hershel Greenblat (Ukraine); Robert Ratonyi (Hungary); George Rishfeld (Poland); and Ben Walker (Romania).

98-year-old honoree Hibby Margol (along with his late twin brother, Howard) was with the U.S. Army unit that liberated the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Also honored posthumously was Judge Aaron Cohn, who served under General George Patton, and was among those who liberated the Ebensee concentration camp — a subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp — in Austria.

In her remarks, Israel Consul General to the Southeast U.S. Anat Sultan-Dadon emphasized the rising threat of antisemitism. Citing a recent Anti-Defamation League report showing that, in 2021, antisemitic incidents reached the highest level in the United States since the ADL began tracking such data back in 1979, she said: “This must concern us all. Our moral obligation is not only to remember, but to take a clear stand in the face of any expression of hate. History has taught us the grave danger of not taking a clear moral stand, of not actively working to combat ignorance and hatred.”

Members from the international Consular Corps lit candles honoring Holocaust victims, rescuers, liberators and survivors.

The program’s keynote speaker, introduced by GCH board member and Atlanta Jewish Times Publisher Michael Morris, was Emory University President Gregory Fenves, who shared his own family’s compelling Holocaust history.
Fenves’s father, Steven Fenves, was not yet a teenager when Nazi-aligned

Hungarian authorities occupied his Yugoslavian town and stripped Jewish residents of all rights. In 1944, when Steven was 13, the family was deported to Auschwitz. He beat the odds of survival at the infamous death camp by translating for the Nazis, using the German he learned from his childhood governess. Four months later, with the help of the Polish resistance, Steven was smuggled aboard a train car that took him to a subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was among 300 slave laborers forced to manufacture German aircraft.

Sally Levine, Georgia Commission on the Holocaust executive director, welcomed attendees to the official state Holocaust remembrance observance at the State Capitol House Chambers.

Camp inmates fought back by sabotaging the wiring in the wings of the planes so that they would crash upon landing.

“Even with the life being worked out of them, they resisted,” said Fenves.
As Allied forces closed in, the Nazis attempted to erase their crimes and Steven barely survived a 65-mile death march to the main Buchenwald camp, where he was liberated by American troops.

In 1950, he and his remaining family members emigrated to the United States, where Steven served in the U.S. Army and later became a distinguished professor of engineering.

The Lovejoy High School Junior ROTC performed the Presentation of Colors, with Commissioner of Veterans Service Patricia Ross leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Even as a university president, with my dad nearly 91 years old, he’s still the one opinion, the one voice, the person I look up to and listen to more than ever,” said Fenves. “Being here with you today, telling his story so others can understand and learn, so that the atrocities of the Holocaust — and the hatred that made it possible — does not take hold again. That is the best way I can honor him.”

The program concluded with the “Hymn of the Jewish Partisans” sung by the Atlanta Young Singers. This inspiring Yiddish ballad, traditionally sung at Holocaust memorial programs, refers to the courage of the Jewish resistance fighters.

For more information, including a link to the entire video recorded program, visit www.holocaust.georgia.gov.

read more:
comments