Holocaust survivors, descendants join forces on social media

In 1941, Assia Gorban, a 7-year-old Jewish girl from Podolsky in Ukraine, was taken by car to the concentration camp in Pechora. Later, her family was forced onto a cattle car and imprisoned in a ghetto on the outskirts of the town when the Germans occupied her hometown of Mogilev.

Released in 1944, they resided under deceptive aliases throughout the remainder of World War II, and successfully fled in 1942, Gorban, her mother, and younger brother, after a few unsuccessful endeavors.

Simply because she was of Jewish descent, the Nazis had a strong desire to eliminate her while she sought refuge from the concentration camp. She vividly recollects the horrifying specifics of her experience in Berlin, where she continues to reside independently at the age of 89, comfortably situated in her apartment, Gorban.

In her residence, she often pays a visit to her granddaughter, Ruth Gorban, who is a 19-year-old student at the university and resides in Berlin. During these visits, she enjoys reminiscing and sharing her memories with her granddaughter.

Ruth, sitting next to Gorban on the couch, said, “I could personally hear about the Holocaust in my class, and I even invited her to my school. My grandmother is incredible.”

Launched on Tuesday by the Claims Conference, a New York-based organization known as the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Assia and Ruth were also involved in the recent online initiative titled “Our Holocaust Story: A Commitment to Recollect.”

In Israel, Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, is the time when individuals across the globe honor the casualties – the six million Jewish individuals and individuals from various other factions who were killed by the Nazis and their associates during the Holocaust.

Today, around 240,000 individuals who have survived are still alive, residing in Europe, Israel, the United States, and other locations.

The Conference Claims campaign features descendants and survivors of the Holocaust from around the globe, illustrating the importance of passing on the testimonies of younger family members as the number of survivors dwindles.

Greg Schneider, the executive vice president of the Claims Conference, stated, “survivors are perishing because we are implementing this innovative social media initiative.”

Schneider expressed during a telephone conversation with The Associated Press, from New York, that allowing the stories, wisdom, and knowledge held by these individuals to perish with them is of great significance and value to society, especially in these difficult times.

The campaign #OurHolocaustStory will be utilized across various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to disseminate the stories of those who survived the Holocaust. Over the course of the year, the Claims Conference’s social media accounts will showcase survivor stories on a weekly basis. This initiative involves the active participation of more than 100 Holocaust survivors and their families.

Schneider emphasized that if the family had not survived, they would not have been able to build a family and live on. It is a powerful message that they didn’t just survive the Holocaust, but also when we see a Holocaust survivor with their family members.

Assia Gorban, who had earlier moved there with her son, decided to emigrate to Germany in 1992 with her husband, looking for more financial stability and following the cultural scene, especially the vibrant capital of Russia that she loved. She later moved to Moscow, where she became a school teacher. Assia Gorban was liberated by the Soviet Union’s Red Army in 1944.

Even at an advanced age, Gorban remains active and engaged in Berlin’s Jewish community. She continues to volunteer weekly at the Jewish nursing home, where she enjoys sharing stories about her life with high school students.

In August, Gorban keeps me fit with a cheeky smile, acknowledging the fact that she’s turning 90, in blissful ignorance. I enjoy speaking at school and helping old people at the nursing home.

One reason why Ruth Gorban decided to participate in the campaign with her grandmother was her concern about the reemergence of antisemitism in Germany and other places.

The young lady with the lengthy dark hair disclosed that she favors concealing it in public as she delicately retrieved her Star of David pendant necklace from beneath her sweater.

She stated, “unfortunately, that is not accurate when it concerns the embrace of Jews, but Berlin is renowned for its tolerance and variety.”

However, listening to her grandmother’s stories about the Holocaust made Ruth Gorban very conscious of her own Jewish identity.

She expressed, “I take great pride in my Jewish identity.” “It’s a magnificent faith, and without a doubt, I will transmit it to my offspring when I become a mother in the future,” she affirmed.