Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Remembering the Holocaust January 29, 2023

A quote and story in “Transfer of Memory.” (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo June 2014)

Without hope you didn’t survive…

I photographed that quote in the summer of 2014 while viewing a traveling exhibit on the Holocaust, “Transfer of Memory,” at the Steele County History Center in Owatonna. The singular summary word hope themes portraits and accompanying stories of Minnesota Holocaust survivors.

Panels showcase portraits and stories in “Transfer of Memory.” (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo June 2014)

“Transfer of Memory” was, and remains, one of the most powerful exhibits I’ve ever viewed. It is the personal stories, paired with portraits, which imprinted upon my heart and spirit the utter brutality, the unfathomable cruelty of the Nazis against Jewish people.

Today, just days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, the date in 1945 marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi’s largest killing center and concentration camp, I am reminded of the survivors featured in that traveling exhibit.

I am reminded, too, of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Six. Million.

Cover image from Goodreads

Recently, I read three books of historical fiction about young men and women imprisoned in concentration camps. These books by Heather MorrisThe Tatooist of Auschwitz, Cilka’s Journey and Three Sisters—are difficult to read. Heart-rending. Awful. Yet, with that underlying theme of hope accompanied by incredible strength. Like the “Transfer of Memory” exhibit, they imprinted upon my heart and spirit the utter brutality and unfathomable cruelty of humankind.

When I read of current day antisemitism and hatred directed towards other individuals because of their skin color, ethnicity, religion, etc., I find myself wondering, “Why?”

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FYI: Click here to learn more about the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and its “Transfer of Memory” exhibit. Please consider bringing this exhibit to your community. Click here to read my 2014 post about the exhibit in Owatonna.

“Transfer of Memory” is currently on exhibit in Jones Commons at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis until February 28. Special events are also planned. A forum with a Holocaust survivor is set for 10 am Sunday, February 12. And at 4 pm Sunday, February 26, Janet Horvath performs on her cello and celebrates the release of her memoir, The Cello Still Sings: A Generational Story of the Holocaust and of the Transformative Power of Music. Click here for more information about the exhibit and events at Plymouth Congregational.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling