It’s always been a difficult thing; disowning some of my past to see the validity of today’s automakers. I pride myself on seeing the car I evaluate rather than the people who built it – or their history. Like many, I have no desire to live in the past and dwell – not when I have such a fun job as an automotive journalist.
It’s easy to focus on cars in Denver, Colorado. The amazing people here are my family now and I try to measure up to their expectations. This is the best place on the planet to evaluate cars. We have nearly every climate, great race tracks amazing mountain roads and a local car culture that rocks!
Here, I am simply a Coloradan.
Still, every once in a while – when I see a World War II film or when celebrating religious events, I tend to remember my Jewish roots. It is hard for me. It’s an odd thing, enjoying every aspect of a German car or reveling in a Ford product. I have full knowledge of the past, be it anti-semitism or all out genocide; but I have to remove it from my work. It’s what the unbiased perspective of mine is required to do.
With that said, I am pleased to see Volkswagen taking International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27th seriously.
I’ll never know the exact total of family that was slaughtered, none of my people will. This bitter past will never go away. So, seeing Volkswagen openly participate with the UN Secretary General and German President is heartwarming. At the very least, they are openly addressing something MANY people wish would wither up and blow away.
It will not – ever.
So, it’s with gratitude that I post this press release and thank Volkswagen.
Here’s the press release:
Apprentices meet UN Secretary General and German PresidentYoung people from Wolfsburg, Kassel, Hanover, Emden and Chemnitz take part in International Holocaust Memorial Day events
Wolfsburg, 21 January 2011 – Volkswagen apprentices will be attending events in the USA, Poland and Germany on the occasion of the International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27 at the invitation of the International Auschwitz Committee (IAC). UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will be talking to four apprentices at a meeting in New York. Seven young people have been invited to the memorial service attended by the Polish and German Presidents at the former Auschwitz concentration camp. Five young men and women will be participating in the commemoration service at the German Bundestag in Berlin.
The apprentices aged between 19 and 23 from Wolfsburg, Kassel, Hanover, Emden and Chemnitz have taken an active part in work at the Auschwitz memorial site where Volkswagen has been supporting international youth encounters since 1988. Christoph Heubner, Executive Vice President of the IAC, emphasized: “Encounters between Holocaust survivors and young people are important for both sides. The accounts and experiences of contemporary witnesses leave their mark on the young apprentices. Committed young people keep the memories alive with their work at the memorial site. We are grateful for that.”
An exhibition entitled “My brother, my sister” opened at the GermanResistance Memorial Center in Berlin this week. It shows photos and documents from former inmates of the Auschwitz concentration camp. In another section of the exhibition, Volkswagen apprentices from Germany and Poland describe their emotions and thoughts triggered by the recollections of the contemporary witnesses.
On Monday, January 24, an exhibition called “The Memories Live On” will open at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The exhibition focuses on drawings from the concentration camp and remembrances from Holocaust survivors. Added to these are contributions from Volkswagen apprentices who have put their emotions into words. The exhibition will be opened by Germany’s UN Ambassador, Dr. Peter Wittig.
On the occasion of the International Holocaust Memorial Day, the IAC has also invited apprentices to the central commemoration services in Poland and Germany on January 27. German President Christian Wulff and Polish President Bronisław Komorowski will lay a wreath at the former Auschwitz concentration camp and light candles at Auschwitz-Birkenau in memory of the victims. Both presidents will talk to survivors as well as Polish and German vocational trainees at the International Youth Meeting Centre. On January 22, other apprentices set off on their journey to a youth encounter in Munich and Dachau which concludes with the commemoration service for the victims of National Socialism held at the German Bundestag and a podium discussion with the President of the German Bundestag, Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert.
Youth encounters in Oświęcim / Auschwitz
1,260 Volkswagen apprentices have taken part in youth encounters in Poland over the last 23 years. Five times a year, the young men and women travel to Oświęcim for two weeks. They live alongside young Polish people at the International Youth Meeting Center Auschwitz and work with them to help maintain the memorial site.
This is not forgive and forget. It’s gratitude for doing the right thing. Thanks Volkswagen.