Bearing Witness: The Voices of Our Survivors
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Bearing Witness: The Voices of Our Survivors

Thursday, April 16 at 8:00 p.m.

Six individuals, each from a different background but united in their common experience during the Holocaust, are featured in a powerful "Toledo Stories" documentary.

"Bearing Witness: The Stories of Our Survivors" provides a forum for these six remarkable people – the last known survivors in Toledo – to tell their stories in their own words.

Survivors Rolf Hess (Germany), Al Negrin (Greece), Philip Markowicz and Aron Wajskol (Poland), William Leons (Netherlands) and Clara Rona (Hungary) had a variety of experiences. Two were forced into the Lodz ghetto, most were sent to labor camps and one was rescued and sent to a children's home. Another was hidden in the attic of a Mennonite family.

The project was a collaboration between Toledo's Ruth Fajerman Markowicz Holocaust Resource Center and Bowling Green State University School of Art faculty members Heather Elliott-Famularo and Dena Eber. Its goal was to engage the youth of today with these remaining survivors and document their stories for future generations to study.

The Bearing Witness Project brought together the six survivors with about 65 students, in grades 7-12, from three area synagogues’ Sunday Schools for face-to-face interviews, which were recorded and photographed by Elliott-Famularo and Eber. With help from Elliott-Famularo, the students asked them about their memories and experiences.

Early on, the project yielded some revelations. “A little miracle occurred when I was doing research online at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in preparation for the interviews,” Elliott-Famularo recounted. “I came across some photos of a young boy, with the name Rolf Hess in the description. He is one of the Toledo survivors. He had never seen these photographs. In fact, ‘Bearing Witness’ was the first time he had publically told his story.”

His story, and those of the five other survivors, will be remembered, through the Bearing Witness Project and "Toledo Stories."