CREDOS : Distorted memory — III

Rebecca Phillips:

Speechlessness cannot be captured on film. Sheer incomprehension at the senselessness of what happened there does not translate digitally. The pain caused by standing on the same ground where my mother’s four grandparents perished is not the kind of thing one can record with a camera. Even my guilt remains raw, undeveloped. Guilt because as I rage internally over others’ insensitivity to memory, I have lost a piece of mine. My family always intended to videotape my grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, though not of Auschwitz, telling his story. When he died two years ago at the age of 87, that became impossible. Documenting his life was something we always talked about, but found easier to put off. His story remains scattered now, in the memory of his four children, those of his 11 grandchildren who are old enough to know, in a few other surviving relatives. In my grandmother, barely 18 at the time of the Auschwitz liberation, for whom, like all Holocaust survivors, there is no such thing as historical distance. This week’s commemorative events and speeches and museum exhibits can remind the world of the atrocities humans have inflicted on each other, and of the necessity of doing good in the face of horrendous evil. But they cannot stop the ebb of time, the inevitability of survivors dying and the memory of what happened to them and to their families being distorted. There are many Auschwitz survivors who are still alive on the sixtieth anniversary to remind us of their pain, to show us their permanent wounds. What happens on the seventieth, or eightieth anniversary? —