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By Susan Warsinger

I am grateful to the Museum’s staff for providing me opportunities to share and participate in our various programs. These programs make me feel that my message is important enough to pass on to people all over the world. I am grateful that I am healthy in mind and body and can meet the challenges that are asked of me. I feel vital and significant because I can contribute to the Museum’s mission, which is “working to keep Holocaust memory alive while inspiring citizens and leaders to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity in our constantly changing world.”

I am grateful to the staff of our Museum for diligently continuing its work, virtually, even though we are experiencing a global pandemic of COVID-19. I continue to participate in Zoom meetings with my fellow docents of the main exhibition and the Americans and the Holocaust exhibition. We have well-planned meetings every month where we learn new ways of viewing and presenting the exhibits. Rebecca Dupas, manager of the Initiative on the Holocaust and Civic Responsibility, sends us informative emails called “Helpful Hints,” which include documentaries, videos, books, and articles that significantly enhance my knowledge at stops in the main exhibition. Just today we received an email that deals with “rescue efforts that ranged from isolated actions of individuals to organized networks both large and small.” Rebecca explains how the information in these videos could be used to broaden our knowledge about “rescue.” Rebecca also lets us know about new optional lectures. I am confident that when I resume conducting tours, I will definitely be ready to resume our tours that we conduct for our visitors because of all the help we received from Rebecca and her team.    

I have attended nearly all the survivor meetings that take place every Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. I am grateful to Diane Saltzman, director of the Office of Constituency Engagement, for keeping us all together and keeping us informed and engaged. She is such a warm, understanding, and uplifting host. I derive so much pleasure from seeing her and all the survivors on Zoom in their homes and in their own little Zoom frames. These meetings also provide opportunities to listen to a large variety of guest speakers. I am grateful for all the time and effort that Diane devotes to keeping us informed and happy. I know that she is always there for us.

I have learned a lot about Google Docs from Emily Potter Tien, senior program coordinator in Survivor Affairs. She gave the Echoes of Memory writers a very helpful tutorial. She also devised a program where we can find our stories easily in each Echoes publication. I think it is a masterpiece. I also appreciate all the effort Emily executed in making my Facebook Live program with Edna Friedberg a reality for the world to see and hear. I see that this program is still streaming on the Museum’s Facebook page. I value Emily’s help in keeping me in touch with Hansjoerg Rehbein, a journalist whose hometown of Bad Kreuznach is the same as mine. He reported on my family’s story to commemorate this year’s Kristallnacht events in Bad Kreuznach. It was published in the local newspapers. The mayor, Dr. Heike Kaster-Meurer, sent me a letter to thank the Museum and me for our commitment to make the world aware of the Holocaust. I am happy that Emily is always there at our Echoes meetings.

What would I have accomplished without Keri Bannister, program coordinator in Survivor Affairs? How would I have learned about Zoom? At the beginning of the pandemic, I learned from her everything I needed to know about virtual conferencing. She was always there, patient, explaining, sometimes over and over again, issues that were so difficult at the time. I was so worried about speaking for the Museum’s first official video conference with the Bringing the Lessons Home youth ambassadors. I discussed with Keri my concerns with sitting in front of my computer for 45 minutes and just talking about myself. She was  calm and assured me that everything would be fine. Subsequently, I presented another video conference to the students of Hiroo Gakuen High School in Japan, where Keri was the facilitator. At that time I thought that I was an expert. I am grateful to her for all the Zoom tutorials. I am grateful for all the reminders she sends us about meetings, programs, Facebook events, and speakers. I appreciated her help when she arranged the slide show for each survivor. I thought that the presentation at the survivor meeting was highly successful.

I cannot believe that in the digitized Museum collection sent to me by Leah Zinker, the Survivor Affairs and Oral History intern, I found my birth certificate that was documented in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. I did not remember owning it and certainly did not remember donating it to the Museum. It is exciting to know that at this stage of my life I have a copy of this birth certificate. I am still studying some of the papers that Leah found and reliving events in my past. I am grateful to Leah for also sending me links and attachments for photographs of me and my family.

To my great pleasure, I have the opportunity to see and listen to Maggie Peterson, the  wonderful facilitator of our Echoes writers’ workshop twice a month in our virtual class. She has been my inspiration for so many years and has encouraged me and all the Echoes writers to compose pieces of remembrances of our past, hopes for the future, feelings about our surroundings, and love for our families. Maggie has made very positive comments and suggestions about our writing for many years. Her prompts have always been helpful. The best part of composing these pieces is when we read them in class, out loud to the people in our class. However, after the reading, the delight continues because Maggie makes observations that inspire other members of our group to make comments. Maggie has the ability to help us understand and appreciate one another’s  views. I always look forward to our meetings. I am grateful to Maggie for helping me become a better writer and for filling my life with the joy of writing.

© 2022, Susan Warsinger. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.