mayo 08Born in Poland in 1945, daughter of Shoah Jewish survivors. In 1947 came to Argentina and lives there. (See also here)

Psychologist specialized in Family Therapy, she writes about her profession as well as about Shoah survivors and their descendants.

TED Talk. April 2015. http://www.dianawang.net/blog/2015/04/18/charla-ted-los-a…s-de-la-historia/ (Subtitled into English, click in settings. Full translation at the end of this resume)

Click! Talk, May 2015 Shoah? Again?

Published books:

Essays and chapters included in:

2014 | Menachem Rosensaft (editor): God, Faith and Identity in the Ashes. Reflections of Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors. Chapter:The Holocaust and Jewish Identity. A dilemma. Jewish Lights Publishing, NY.

2012 | Ministerio de Justicia y DDHH: “La Shoá, los genocidios y crímenes de lesa humanidad: Enseñanzas para los juristas”. Ponencia: “¿Por qué recordar la Shoá en la Argentina?” en la sesión IV del simposio “La política de la memoria”. pág. 144. Versión en pdf

2007 | Eliahu Toker, Ana Weinstein: Nietos y abuelos. Un intenso vínculo. Ediciones Instituto Movilizador de Fondos Cooperativos. Buenos Aires. Caps: “Abuelas y frutillas“, pág. 27 y “La última frontera” pág. 30

2004 | Nélida Boulgourdjian-Toufeksian, Juan Carlos Toufeksian, Carlos Alemian (comp): Análisis de la prácticas genocidas. Actas del IV Encuentro sobre Genocidio. Fundación Siranoush y Boghos Arzoumanian, Buenos Aires. Capítulo Genocidio y memoria: “La segunda generación de sobrevivientes. Su lugar en el escenario del genocidio“, pág.203

2004 | Ricardo Feierstein, Stephen Sadow (comps): Recreando la cultura judeoargentina 2. Literatura y artes plásticas. Editorial Mila, Buenos Aires. Cap Shoá y transmisión “Victimización e identidad. Reflexiones serias a partir de textos humorísticos“, pág 280

2002| Cristina Godoy (comp): Historiografía y Memoria colectiva. Tiempos y territorios. Miño y Dávila, Buenos Aires. Cap:”El mal y su legitimación social“, pág 91.

2002 | Ricardo Feierstein, Stephen Sadow (comp): Recreando la cultura judeoargentina. 1894-2001, en el umbral del segundo siglo. Editorial Mila, Buenos Aires. Cap: “Lo judío en mi obra“, pág. 311

Since its creation in 2004 she is the Chairwoman of Generaciones de la Shoá en Argentina, (Generations of the Shoah in Argentina), the blending of two former organizations: Children of the Shoah and Second Generation. Mother of the idea, planning and organization of Facing the Future, an international conference held in Buenos Aires in 2004. Previously a pre-meeting taught about the needs and interests that should be addressed. Head of two main projects:

  1. Cuadernos de la Shoá (Shoah Notebooks), a collection of pedagogic tools facing each one a specific aspect of the Holocaust.
  2. Proyecto Aprendiz (Apprentice Project), the oral memory of Survivors in the voice of young adults committed to tell each story personally in the future.

In International Organizations. She was involved in the testimony project by the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation founded by Steven Spielberg in the psychological assessment. She belongs since september 2003 to the Advisory Board of the International Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and colaborates since 2010 the organization and teaching of the Argentine delegation to March of the Living. She was part in the making of the testimonial film "And We Were Children" (2001) by Bernardo Kononovich, a video about the experience of survivors that were children during the Shoah. Frequently writes about the issue and lectures in schools and institutions locally and abroad. Her main interest is located in the awareness of totalitarian phenomenons, their internal dynamics, ideological and pragmatical substractum, because far from being a past issue they are dangerously alive in today´s world.

Having immigrated to Argentina illegally claiming to be Catholic because there was a secret order that forbid the Jews to enter this land, she requested to the government to change her identity in the Immigration Records. In 2005 she was successful. Read the story here (bloomberg). and here (JTA).

Since 2006 is a founding member of Foro de Liderazgo y Participación - mujeres en la comunidad judía (Leadership Forum - Women in the Jewish Community).

In August 2006 was honored with the Moises Award, in Buenos Aires, for her work in the transmission of the Shoah and keeping its memory.

 

TED Talk. ENGLISH Translation.

Ania was left alone in Poland during the war. She was 12 years old. She begged for handouts, served as a domestic in homes, and learned how to pray. But she lived in terror because she mispronounced the sound of the letter “r” and convinced herself that that was how they were going to discover she was Jewish and kill her. With her nearly transparent, baby-blue eyes and her tiny delicate voice, she would tell me when I was a child that she spent all the years of the war without using any word containing the letter “r”. I found that impossible. My mom said “it is possible, as is so much more. Let’s hope that life never challenges you”.Hanka was 7 years old. She was hiding with her mother in a closet they held their breath as they listened to the shouting in German. “Why do we have to hide momma?” “Because if they find us they’ll kill us.” “And, why do they want to kill me if I’ve been good?”Stories like these accompanied me during my childhood, with questions that would harass me and not allow me to sleep.I am a child of the war. I was born in Poland while the bombs fell in Japan over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My parents survived by hiding in a tiny attic for several years. We arrived in Argentina in 1947. My fairytales were stories like these ---some miraculous, heroic; other sad, terrifying--- that I would hear the survivors tell, sitting around the table while drinking tea with pastries and cake.I didn't live the war, but I have always had the feeling that the most important things in my life had happened before I was born. The war itself. The miracle of my parents’ survival. The loss of Zenus, their first son, my older brother who I've never known. They had to give him away to a Christian family to ensure his survival as theirs seemed impossible. When the war was over they went back for him.  "He’s dead", they were told. They asked for his body. The family claimed not to "remember" where he had been buried. It seemed obvious, Zenus was still alive and was being kept by them. They searched and searched. But they never found him. His absence was a tangible presence in my house in the only photo that remained. It's strange to live with the feeling that maybe somewhere, there is someone with my blood who looks like me yet doesn't know who he is.

Imagine having to leave your children behind to save their life. What conceivable threat could a two year-old child pose? What were my little brother, Ania, and Hanka accused of? Why do they want to kill me if I’ve been good?

These questions led me to think about EVIL. Not the interpersonal evil, the everyday one, uttered in the midst of an argument or a heated moment. No, no. Uppercase EVIL: impersonal, systematic, political. The EVIL perpetrated by someone in the name of a system against others belonging to a group targeted for destruction.The one done by obeying orders, that manufactures wars, massive killings, and genocides, but without any guilt.

How do we answer the question posed by uppercase EVIL?

I believe the answer relies on education. An education where ethics is central. Neither religions nor cultural norms have been able to prevent uppercase EVIL yet humanity depends on this. It should be part of every curriculum. But if it were to be, how to introduce something like EVIL at school? And also, how can we highlight its importance in order that it not become just another class: 9am: English, 10am: Gym, 11am: Genocide?

The “protagonists”! Those who experienced it being in the classroom is the key. The one who was there, shaped by history. Their voice and their presence touch us It opens ears and helps us to see the human perspective in every historical event. But what will  it be like when none of the witnesses to a given event are left?   What is going to happen to stories like Ania’s or Hanka’s? Buried in the page of some history book. Unreachable. How can we keep alive that motivating force of the live testimony in the classroom?

In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury describes a world in which books are forbidden. Each rebel decides to learn a book by heart in order to keep it alive. This is the solution: like those rebels, let us rebel against tides of forgetfulness to ensure that each story continues to be heard. And this is how the Apprentice Project was born.

A very simple idea: bringing two people together---one who has something to tell, and another who wants to hear it and commits to continue telling it. Like the master shoemaker who teaches his art to an Apprentice,   so too the “protagonists”, as Teachers, pass on their experiences and story to a witness, who masters that account and embodies it as their own.

I transmitted my enthusiasm to the people at Generations of the Shoah, an organization that deals with the Holocaust, and we began to work. At first, we had no idea how to tackle it, but the project enthralled people, we persisted, and through trial and error we learned, and we are doing it!

It’s a simple conversation between two people, eye to eye, in the flesh. You can’t ask questions to a written or recorded testimony, but if someone is sitting in front of you, you can. And they tell stories like the ones I told earlier, human, universal, stories that anyone can understand. It doesn’t even matter where or under which circumstances they happened, they allow us to inhabit someone else's shoes. It’s something vibrant, like in the theater, when people are here   and what’s happening touches all of us. This can’t be registered on any camera, it’s pure energy.

The project is spread by word of mouth. The candidates are young adults from 20 to 35 years-old. They first complete a training before the long-awaited moment arrives: the Pairing Event. That day each Apprentice meets their Teacher. The matches are made and each pair chooses its own path. They meet wherever they want, whenever they want, and for as long as they need. The only requirement is that the Apprentice must keep a journal, logging the memories of the journey---their memory for the future.

The pairs meet several times before the final moment arrives at the Closure Event: a rite of passage in front of friends and family of both the Teachers and the Apprentices. Throughout their meetings, each pair has developed a powerful relationship that is formalized that day in front of all those in attendance by signing an ethical commitment: that each story will continue to be told.

To this point, ninety pairs have completed the project. Ninety are the Apprentices who have made their Teacher’s story a part of their own lives.

Since we began five years ago, we’ve learned many things.

We have learned that it’s easier to talk with a stranger than with your own family.

When Dora died, all her grandchildren surrounded Sol at the wake and they asked “tell us what grandma told you, because she never told us anything”.

We’ve also learned that on top of keeping oral storytelling alive, new kinship networks were created: “foster” grandchildren and grandparents, invitations to parties, celebrations, the Apprentice’s family meeting the Teacher’s family.

Gabriel happily says “I have a new granddaughter”.

Ariana invited Eugenia to be a witness at her wedding.

Brian danced Lea’s story in choreographic form.

We’ve learned that these conversations between Teacher and Apprentice are a bridge between past and future.

We’ve learned that we old people are the owners of an indispensable archive. We are how we are because of what happened before. We will be who we will be if we learn from the rowers to gain the power to move forward by looking back.

Imagine the power produced when sharing the live testimony of witnesses of: a culture in danger of extinction, the Malvinas/Falklands War, military dictatorships, or human trafficking.

The Apprentices are these voices of History.

Pamela asked Judith if she had ever felt ashamed during the war. Surprised by the curious question, Judith said: “You know what? Yes, I have, and I had forgotten. It was the day when we first arrived at Auschwitz. Hundreds of women cramped in that horrible place. And we were ordered to strip. I was 14 years old. I had never stripped in front of anyone before. I was dying of shame, but amidst the terror I imitated the others and kept removing my clothing piece by piece until I was down to my underwear. I had reached my limit. But in front of me there was this German soldier, he was a young man...who couldn’t have been more than 20. Blond, light blue eyes, handsome as could be. When he saw me in my underwear, he pointed at me with his gun and fiercely shouted “everything, all of it!” Shivering, I took off my undershirt, and when I pulled down my panties I was horrified to see that there was blood, and that the soldier saw it as well. I wanted to die. That was the worst thing that happened to me in Auschwitz. I know you won’t believe me. But it was worse than lice, worse than hunger, worse than thirst. My intimacy was there lying on the ground in front of everyone. I was 14 years-old and was no longer the owner of myself.”

These words speak about dehumanization with more eloquence that any essay could. Judith died while I was preparing this talk, but her story is still alive in me. I tell it every time I can. I will never ever forget it. And now that I’ve told it, you won’t be able to forget it either.

This is the essence of the Apprentice Project:

When you listen to a witness, you become a witness!