Holocaust Commemoration Uplifts Audience

More stories from Ayanna Arrington


Attendees of Holocaust Commemoration (photo: Ayanna Arrignton)

Holocaust survivor Louise Lawrence-Israels spoke about her hatred “towards everything German” and how she transformed that hatred into a message of peace.

Louise Lawrence-Israels was a voice for all Holocaust survivors as she spoke about her upbringing during World War II, at MC’s Annual Holocaust Commemoration. Israels shared that she didn’t know much about the outside world during the time of WWII, because her parents wanted her and her brother to have normal childhoods, even giving them fake identities. She grew up thinking her name was Maria.

“Hate” was a word commonly used by her parents and was a word she often used herself as it pertained to German people, Israels shared Tuesday, March 28, 2017, in Theatre Arena on the Rockville campus. It wasn’t until she realized that the Holocaust was formed from hate and was a word “used by Hitler” that she began to shift her perspective.

With the influence of a good friend, she started to tell her story, this time from a perspective of peace and not hate. Israels’ primary message for the evening was to let the audience know that you can not fight violence alone and that there are always people ready to help.

“Tradition of remembrance is crucial” according to President of Maryland Collegiate Honors Council, Lucy E. Laufe, Ph.D. She spoke of the harsh reality, that which we are living in a changed world where hate, fear, violence and hate crimes are on the rise, even in Montgomery County.

In spite of this, she wanted the audience to know that there is hope. Laufe believed that “education and remembrance are the only cure for hatred and bigotry.” She honored “the individuals who were lost in the Holocaust.” She encouraged MC students to become service-oriented, in order to make this world a better place to live.

A poignant moment was depicted when MC students remembered those who were lost in the Holocaust, with a slideshow presentation. In the presentation, the students featured the stories of Susan Strauss, a survivor of the Holocaust, Joseph Muscha Mueller, who survived the war by hiding in a garden shed for 5 months, and Golda (Olga) Bancic, a victim of the war, just to name a few.

The commemoration featured a candle lighting ceremony, and each survivor present that evening lit a candle in front of the Theatre stage. Audience members placed stones by the candle light in honor of the survivors. MC student and pianist, Gilad Navo, exhibited a premier performance, titled “When the Rage Turns to Hope.”

Linda Grabel, an attendee of the commemoration shared her personal connection to the Holocaust through her personal lineage as a Jewish woman. Grabel shared that she lost distant relatives in the Holocaust and she knows survivors and “some of their children.”