Schindler’s List Holocaust survivor Rena Finder returned to Boston College to speak to students in a packed Gasson 100 on Tuesday night. Hosted by the Emerging Leader Program, this event marks the ninth year that Finder has told her story at Boston College.
Finder was born in 1929 in Krakow, Poland. As a Holocaust survivor, she is devoted to sharing her story to ensure the lessons from the past are ingrained in the future. Though this is her ninth year speaking, she emphasized that the context of current world events makes this year's speech different.
“Things are happening that send me back 75 years ago to the war,” said Finder. “When the Second World War ended, I was sure there was never going to be another war.” She is no longer so sure. However, she does have hope that young people will not stand idly by.
“Years ago, the world was silent,” Finder said, urging the crowd to think about the state of the world. “It does not matter what color skin you are, it does not matter what you believe in. People matter.”
Finder also discussed how she sees her role as one of the few remaining Holocaust survivors. “I want to pass the torch of memory to all of you young people,” said Finder. “You can make sure it will not happen again. It is up to you and you are capable of doing it.”
Finder launched in to her story, as 10-year-old girl in Krakow when the war began. “In 1939, it seemed like the world went black, deaf, and dumb [when] all of a sudden it was like we [the Jewish people] disappeared,” said Finder."They didn’t hear our cries of help.”
But one man did. This man's name was Oskar Schindler, an ambitious businessman who is credited with saving more than 1,000 Jews from ending up at Auschwitz.
“He cared for others,” said Finder. “Why was there only one like him?” She described Auschwitz as inhumane. She could not fathom how another human could built a place for the sole purpose of murder.
“How could they even think of building a place that would make ashes out of human beings?” Finder questioned.
Finder credited Schindler with her life. Without him, she said, she would not have been able to get married, have children, and meet her grandchildren.
She left the audience with a recommendation to see the film Schindler’s List, as well as a call to action that was met with a standing ovation. “A bully is a coward,” said Finder. “Stand up and speak your mind. Go and vote and make your voices heard. Reach out and try to make the world a better place.”