When Sally Frishberg was seated as one of the guests at A Night of Remembrance at The Bridge MultiCultural Project Community Center, 1894 Flatbush Avenue last Thursday, she immediately started scanning the other guests, who included American and Russian former soldiers who had helped liberate the Nazi death camps and German-occupied villages.
“There’s a chance, ” she told KCP as more guests and attendees came in, “that one of the men who liberated me is here now.”
Frishberg didn’t find anyone she remembered from that long-awaited day in 1944, but she did meet several other survivors. Some of them had been freed from Russian villages that the Nazis had taken over. Some were liberated by the Allies from the camps.
Either way, they were thankful to be in America, in Brooklyn, to be honored by the community. Mark Meyer Appel, president of The Bridge, welcomed the dozens of men, women, and two babies who came out in the heavy rain of Thursday night to honor the survivors and liberators.
Also honoring the survivors and liberators was the Fort Hamilton High School Color Guard, who stood at sharp attention as the National Anthem was played. (There was a reason the particular school was chosen – Frishberg became a teacher there after coming to America.)
As several survivors recounted the horrific experiences of being under Nazi occupation, cell phones in the audience buzzed with flash-flood emergency alerts.
Many couldn’t help seeing a connection. “These people faced an emergency every single hour every day, ” said one attendee. “Sure, we have to be warned about floods, but most of us thankfully don’t really know anything about a true daily crisis, as the people here did.”
“We were in fear constantly,” said Frishberg, who as a child was hidden in an attic in her hometown in Poland for two years until she and her 14 family members were liberated. “The Nazis could have come at any moment,” she recalled.
Also highlighted at the event was the Tour for Tolerance, a project spearheaded by tech-savvy educator Bill Tingling, who had founded School News Nationwide in 1993 to help at-risk children.
The plan is to outfit a bus with high-tech interactive facilities to teach about the Holocaust and warn of dangers of bigotry and intolerance, featuring life-size holograms of historical figures in the battles for civil rights. The figures would actually answer questions from school kids in the personality’s own voice, with the figure’s recorded words rearranged by computers to fit the question.
The bus, staffed by a survivor and a TFT teacher, would be driven to middle and high schools around the country, starting with Brooklyn and then expanding to the other four boroughs, the state, and the nation.
“We’ve got the bus,” Tingling announced. ” Next is to outfit it.”
He told KPC he needed about $400,000 for the high-tech equipment, and he’s already started fundraising (Anyone interested in donating money or hardware can contact him at 718-753-9920 or [email protected])
Tingling was inspired to start TFT when he met Frishberg at an event in 1993. He realized that the number of survivors bearing witness to the evils of the Holocaust is fast diminishing.
“There now are about 40,000 survivors in New York, with fewer than 100,000 worldwide,” he told KCP. “We have to be sure that the new and future generations are aware of what happened, so that anything like it never happens again.”