By Sam Brygel
RECIPIENT OF ROBYNE SCHWARZ DOMESTIC PLACEMENT SCHOLARSHIP
For almost three months from February until the end of April, I had the honour and pleasure of working as an intern at the Jewish Holocaust Centre as part of the Monash Arts Internship program.
The vast majority of my time spent interning at the JHC was dedicated to creating a twenty-minute video commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
This involved perusing the Video Testimonies Project facilitated by Phillip Maisel OAM, whereby in the early 1990s, with a single video camera, over 1300 Melbourne Holocaust witness testimonies were filmed, with the interviews ranging in length from one to eight hours. My role was to first to sift through these testimonies and choose six testimonies that were most appropriate to commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in our video. Once this process was complete, I created a script and found images to accompany the video.
However, on a personal level, it was only after the completion of my internship that I realised the invaluable nature of my experience at the JHC. At the JHC event commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the video, which I had worked on for months, was shown to those in attendance. Three out of the six survivors whose testimony was featured attended, lighting one of the six memorial candles dedicated to the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Whilst I was not even alive when the testimonies were taken, I felt that my time spent with the survivors was twenty-five years ago, and I found the experience of seeing them in their current elderly state quite distressing. As I looked at the weary faces of the three women present- the ‘survivors’ of the survivors – I realised the inherent importance of the Video Testimonies Project at the JHC in preserving memory. I felt especially proud to be able to assist in this process during my time completing the internship.
In my time interning at the JHC, I was also fortunate to assist with a project that seeks to elevate the very nature of video testimony, creating a virtual reality ‘tour’ of a survivor’s testimony for school children. The innovativeness and creativity behind this project, as well as the JHC’s willingness to push the boundaries of how the Holocaust has been conventionally remembered, is testament to the JHC’s understanding that future generations, especially once there are no longer survivors in this world, will inevitably seek and indeed be required to remember the Holocaust in fundamentally different ways. While many Holocaust museums around the world appear to fear how Holocaust memory will be formatted in future years, it became apparent to me that the JHC is embracing this challenge. Further, as a young Jew of the next generation, it fills me with immense pride that the JHC is intent on being at the forefront of the change to Holocaust memory for future generations.
I wish to express an enormous thank you to my internship supervisor at the JHC, Jayne Josem. I was truly inspired by Jayne and her mission to ensure that all Australians learn about the Holocaust, ensuring that ‘never again’ will its horrors pervade our society.
Finally, I would like to offer my huge appreciation to the donor of this scholarship. This internship was truly life changing in the perspective and knowledge that I received both as a Jew and human being. For the three months, which I interned at the JHC, I was entirely consumed by the work. Reflecting on my time, I can truly say now that not only will I ‘never forget’, but I will ensure that my children and their children do likewise.