Because of the many ways in which we think about bearing witness, this article in the New York Times over the weekend caught my eye and I thought you might appreciate reading it as well. It is a poignant description of an 86 year old Holocaust survivor struggling to bear witness even as his memory fades.
One passage that especially resonated with our work at Share Our Strength, and that brought to mind the powerful Witnesses to Hunger project we supported and featured at our most recent Conference of Leaders, was this statement by Elie Wiesel: “I believe fervently that to listen to a witness is to become a witness.” Our opportunity and responsibility, through Hinges of Hope, our numerous events, travel to Haiti, our No Kid Hungry blog, etc. is to not only bear witness ourselves, but to create ways in which others become witnesses to.
The Urgency of Bearing Witness
Ernest W. Michel’s calligraphy skills helped save him from the gas chamber when he volunteered for a job requiring good penmanship. He ended up inscribing the death certificates of fellow inmates at Auschwitz.
By PAUL VITELLO
Published: April 9, 2010
He has been telling the story for more than 60 years: expelled from school at 13 for being Jewish; arrested at 16; sentenced to labor in the service of Nazi Germany until an SS guard’s blow landed him, at 20, on the doorstep of death — an infirmary at Auschwitz.
Mr. Michel revisited Auschwitz when he turned 60.
Stefan Heyman, the prisoner-worker who helped save Mr. Michel by asking for a volunteer with good handwriting.
Good handwriting saved his life.