What was the impetus for founding the Holocaust Center for Humanity?
My idea was to start an organization for the second generation. If we don’t learn from [past] experience, history has a way of repeating itself. This is why it’s so important to study what happened in the Holocaust. If we are to live together in peace, then we have to learn about and accept each other’s differences. Prejudice, anti-Semitism, and bigotry can be lessened if we start teaching our children at an early age about the Holocaust.
What do you hope people learn from your experiences?
Love is better than hate. One thing is, never give up hope. Secondly, because each one of us is different, we can make a difference. We cannot be indifferent when we see injustice being done to a fellow human being. I believe that people, when they see perpetrators and just do nothing, they’re almost as guilty as those perpetrators committing the crime. We cannot be silent.
What does this look like?
We as American citizens must remember that, except for Native Americans, we’re all immigrants who have contributed to the success of this country. And the recency of our immigration is only a matter of degree. Right now, we can boast multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-linguist culture, and this will all play a major role. America stands for equal citizenship for all. We owe it to ourselves — to our fellow citizens — to be full-fledged Americans, to accept nothing but full-class status. To commit ourselves to this country’s values of liberty and democracy, we have to respect each other. We are all different, and because of that, each of us has something different and special to offer.
What advice do you have for younger generations?
If you have a dream, if you have a goal, don’t give up. Everything is possible if you put your heart to it and don’t give up your mission. The Holocaust Center in Seattle is my accomplishment. I’m leaving a foundation for future generations to build on. I know my work — and other Holocaust survivors’ work — is not wasted; the legacy will go on.