MILLEDGEVILLE — The last living person who sang in the children’s opera “Brundibar,” Holocaust survivor Ela Weissberger sang for all 55 performances at the Terezin concentration camp, including the one filmed for the International Red Cross.
In February 1942, Weissberger was just 11 years old when she arrived at the World War II concentration camp, a transit point for Czech Jews to the Nazi death camps.
“I don’t need anyone to tell me what it was like; it’s in me. The memories are still in me and I will never forget those children that now I have become the voice for them,” Weissberger said during a special program at Georgia College Friday. “From those 15,000 children in Terezin, only 132 were saved by a miracle. This should never happen again.”
The Georgia College theater and music departments, along with the student organization Goodrich Hillel, presented International Holocaust Remembrance Day Friday in the Campus Black Box Theatre. The event was made possible through collaboration with the former education director of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta.
Theatre Department Chair Dr. Karen Berman, Goodrich Hillel board member Alina Venick and county commission chair Sammy Hall, District 3, provided welcoming remarks. Berman also read a proclamation by Mayor Richard Bentley declaring Jan. 24 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the City of Milledgeville.
Rabbi Larry Schlesinger delivered the Dvar Torah.
“Today we mourn the loss of 1.5 million children. If you in your age had been there and ... shipped off, you might have survived because you’re young and able ... but you were also a prisoner. The Nazis would’ve gotten something out of you before you died,” Schlesinger said to the crowded theater of educators, students, media representatives and community members. “It’s now up to you, and the ables of the world who want to live good, peaceful lives to remember, like what we’re doing today, and never ever let this happen to any of our species anywhere in the world.”
Weissberger joined music professor Dr. Wendy Mullen and 20 students to sing two songs from the children’s opera “Brundibar.”
“‘Brundibar’ will always be the symbol for children to be free. It’s something very special that children had this opportunity to sing and be children,” Weissberger said. “I’m very proud to be Jewish. I’m very honored that [your city] is believing that it should be celebrated, and should never happen again.”
Also as part of the ceremony, the sponsoring groups participated in the Am Yisrael Chai (Survival of the Spirit) Daffodil Project, a nonprofit Holocaust education and awareness organization that brings a living Holocaust memorial to campuses and institutions. The Daffodil Project aspires to plant 1.5 million daffodils in memory of the 1.5 million children who died in the Holocaust and for children who suffer in humanitarian crises around the world today.
Goodrich Hillel and the university provided 1,360 daffodils to be planted on front campus. Community members, students and those in attendance at the ceremonial planting were given the opportunity to plant a daffodil bulb into the ground.
“Daffodils are symbolic because it’s the same as the Jewish star that Jews were forced to wear,” said Andrea Videlefsky, a member of the planning committee for Friday’s event. “Every time we look at daffodils in the spring, it reminds us of the hope that we should never forget, and this should never happen again.”
Several Georgia College students and faculty members will also participate in the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in Atlanta Sunday, Jan. 26. The group of singers will perform again with Weissberger.
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