Tuesday night in the Lory Student Theater, second-generation Holocaust survivor Alan Morawiec told the captivating story of his father — a man whose name means “Blessed Life,” and rightly so.
Like many survivors Chaim Baruch Muraviec did not want to relive his traumatic past when his children “pestered” him to tell them his story of survival. But if the survivors didn’t tell their stories, the second generation would not be able to share that valuable experience with the rest of the world and following generations.
“It’s my job to keep the fire alive, to keep the stories alive,” his son Morawiec said to the small crowd standing next to a pile of hundreds of shoes on the theater stage. “To share the information about my father and the stories and the memories, because no one else is going to do it.”
Morawiec said the next generation telling their parents’ stories is like a flame on a candle — the light is passed to ensure the essence of the original flame never dies.
Using his father’s story, Morawiec described the magnitude of the murders committed during the Holocaust that started in 1933 before World War II broke out.
He compared the six million Jews who were killed to the combined population of Colorado and Hawaii. The number of children who were killed would be enough to fill more than 15 Invesco stadiums. And the grand total of 11 million people killed is close to the combined population of Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico and Kansas.
Asked to come to Fort Collins as the creator of the international Holocaust Shoe Project, established in 2001, Morawiec spoke about the importance of helping to “repair the world” through community service and projects like the HSP.
The CSU Students for Holocaust Awareness followed this charge and spent the past month collecting donated shoes for the project to raise awareness about both the Holocaust and current genocides.
The shoes, which each represented the thousands of lives lost in the Holocaust, will be donated to the Denver Rescue Mission.
Fifty Poudre School District schools helped to collect shoes, and donation boxes were left in every CSU residence hall. The CSU Students for Holocaust Awareness collected a grand total of 383 shoes to add to the 29,000 shoes that have been collected worldwide since the project started in 2001.
Jenny Ross the shoe project coordinator said the Students for Holocaust Awareness thought their participation in the project served a dual function: To remind people of the horrors of the Holocaust and to increase awareness about local poverty.
“This project was our way of bringing the past and making it relevant to the future and helping people who need help today in our community as well as brining awareness to events happening around the world,” Ross said.
While it is important to remember the past so not to repeat the same mistakes in the future, according to John Maulsby, who works for CSU veterinary diagnostic lab, anti-Semitism still exists.
“The part that bothers me the most is anti-Semitism,” he said. “Hopefully we’ve learned . that it’s a bad thing.”
Staff writer Scott Callahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.