The Holocaust: A survivor's story, message against hate
By Roland Balik, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 24, 2018
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Ann Jaffe, Holocaust survivor and public speaker from Wilmington, Delaware, delivered her powerful story about the Holocaust, her personal survival and mission to educate people on the ill effects of hate, as the guest speaker during the Holocaust Remembrance Luncheon held at The Landings, April 17, 2018, here.
For more than 40 years, Jaffe has been telling her story at universities and high schools, currently speaking about four to five times a month.
“Dr. Marcia Sachs Littell of the Philadelphia Center on the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights and Ms. Bethany Razin of the Jewish Federation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, both responded back to me within minutes of each other, and told me that I had to have Ms. Ann Jaffe from Wilmington speak and tell us her story of tenacity,” said Capt. Jesse Sandstrom, 436th Security Forces Squadron operations officer and Holocaust Remembrance Luncheon chairman. “From that point, I knew that Ann was the right person, and I told both women that we would be honored if she could be our speaker.”
Her main message was focused on educating younger generations about the Holocaust.
“I made myself a promise, as long as I am able to speak, that I will share [my story] with all and anyone willing to listen,” Jaffe said.
Jaffe spoke about her survival as a 10-year-old living in a small village in Poland and having to flee with her family to the Soviet Union via horse and buggy before Nazi soldiers overtook the village.
“Mrs. Jaffe's presentation generated some great family discussions about how hatred in the world can impact people,” said Col. Larry Nance, 436th Operations Group commander. “Her first-hand story was extremely compelling and caused us all to evaluate how we should treat others who might be different or believe in different things than us.”
For attendees, her story was a catalyst for discussion, as well as a reflection by some family members who shared similar stories of hatred and survival.
“On an individual level, it is important for all generations to learn from those who came before to avoid repeating tragic acts,” Nance said. “Whether those acts stem from the ideology of a deranged national leader or are closer to home, we can't ever let something like the Holocaust happen again.”
Listening to Jaffe tell her story was a history lesson for one teenager in attendance.
“Hearing Mrs. Jaffe speak, I learned many shocking things from history,” said Kimberlyn Nance, daughter of Larry Nance. “It is amazing to think that the Holocaust was started with one man's irrational hatred towards Jews.”
Jaffe’s story was also a reminder of one’s family history.
“I am always curious to hear people’s stories from those uneasy times. Especially because my family can relate to that piece of history,” said 2nd Lt. Ekaterina Thormann, 436th Aerial Port Squadron duty officer. “I feel like getting to know other people’s stories keeps my family's story alive.”
Inspired by Jaffe’s story, Thormann developed a desire to dig deeper into her family history and to remember the stories told by her father, grandfather and great-grandfather about those troubling times of hatred.
Larry Nance said, “I was so glad my daughter was able to hear Mrs. Jaffe's inspiring message, and I know it will have a lasting impact on how she views the world.”
Jaffe considers herself lucky to be a survivor of the Holocaust and to be able to overcome the feeling of hatred.
“I have a big sign in my house that says ‘inspire kindness,’” Jaffe said. “It’s very important to live by example and by teaching others to be kind and caring to other people.”