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"Remember, Never Forget"
Lilly Perry about her impressions after her visit to Vienna in May 2008.
“Remember, Never Forget” – Deuteronomy – Chapter 25.
“There is Hope for the Future” – Jeremiah – Chapter 31.
With these quotes from the Old Testament, I opened my talk about the Holocaust to the students of the Traun School in Linz. I find the same quotes apply also to my visit to Vienna in May 2008, accompanied by my 17-year old granddaughter, Emma. There were so many memories to share, so many things both good and bad to remember.
Grandparents usually share their past with their grandchildren through storytelling and pictures, but how often does a grandmother get the opportunity to actually show a grandchild the actual building she lived in as a child, the apartment she lived in and stand in the very same room where she was born, 80 years ago, delivered by a midwife. We visited my old school, took pictures in front of the address where my father had a store, and visited with the daughter of a former neighbor. I relived my childhood with Emma by going to the Prater, a ride on the Riesenrad, a trip to Schoenbrunn, a Mozart concert. And what is sharing my memories without nightly dinners of Wiener Schnitzel, pastries and coffee with schlag, palatschinken and eismarillenknoedel.
And of course, Friday night services at the beautiful synagogue, followed by a Shabbat dinner at the Chabad House was an amazing experience. Eating traditional Shabbat food while singing long-forgotten Hebrew melodies brought about nostalgic feelings of a time long ago, before the "Anschluss." It was truly a most warm and moving experience which I shall never forget.
As for having hope for the future, the entire concept of “A Letter to the Stars” and my contact with Elke Berger, her parents and her brother as well as my meeting with Mr. Christian Rad, Elke’s teacher at the Traun School and her classmates, all these made me feel very hopeful, indeed.
In addition, the reception speeches at the Parliament and at the Heldenplatz give me much optimism. I felt gratified, that unlike my previous three trips to Vienna over a period of 15 years, that this time I could say for the first time that I felt more “at home”, more welcome.
My granddaughter and I are truly thankful for having had this amazing opportunity to participate in such a noble project as “Letters to the Stars.” Although I have traveled much in my lifetime, this was truly the most extraordinary and meaningful trip of my life.