The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) was honored to help sponsor and take part in the once-in-a-lifetime event, The Honey Girl of Auschwitz. This inspiring event, presented by the Alaska Jewish Campus and Museum, was the first of its kind in Alaska. Over 2,000 people from all different walks of life, religions, and ideologies gathered at the Dena’ina Convention Center to hear the memorable story of Esther Basch, a 95-year-old Holocaust survivor.
Esther Basch’s childhood was one full of unfathomable horrors as a Jewish person living in Hungary during World War II. At the age of 15, Esther and her family were forced into the ghetto, where they remained for six weeks before being loaded onto a cattle car headed to Auschwitz. Esther arrived at Auschwitz on her 16th birthday and was forcibly separated from her parents as they were sent to the left, and she was sent to the right to work in the labor camp. This traumatizing event was only the start of the next fearful year.
Though the story of her life was one that captivated the people of Anchorage, her message of forgiveness, faith, and love for humankind was one that will stay with the audience forever. Throughout her comments, Esther repeatedly conveyed her philosophy for life, “If you can’t do anything good, don’t do anything bad. Love all people regardless of nationality, race, or culture. Love God, think positively, and you’ll have a happy life. Forgive people, and you’ll have a happy life.”
“If you can’t do anything good, don’t do anything bad. Love all people regardless of nationality, race, or culture. Love God, think positively, and you’ll have a good life. Forgive people, and you’ll have a good life.”
Esther Basch, Holocaust Survivor
With the 78th anniversary of the end of World War II approaching this Saturday, there is a sobering knowledge that, eventually, there will be no more Holocaust survivors like Esther to tell their story. In recent years, the rise of antisemitism and increased attacks on people of the Jewish faith, as well as other religions, have highlighted the importance of remembering the atrocities of World War II. From the experiences of survivors of discrimination and hate, we learn what must not happen again.
Events such as The Honey Girl of Auschwitz serve as a reminder that sharing stories of hope in the face of horrific events can help us connect with one another in meaningful and motivating ways. “As we face so much diverseness in our world today, including the rise of antisemitism, tonight’s message of diversity, hope, and tolerance is so very important for all to hear and take to heart,” said Elizabeth Miller, Vice President of Development and Communication at The Alaska Community Foundation.