Holocaust survivor should demonstrate greater empathyJohn...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 27, 1999

Holocaust survivor should demonstrate greater empathy

John Rivera's interview with Deli Strummer (" `Holocaust victor' recounts story of survival," Nov. 14) reflected an air of self-congratulation by the interviewee and a sense of utter insensitivity, if not arrogance, on her part, toward those who she refers to as "my colleagues and my comrades."

She must be reminded that these comrades also give of their time to painfully recount and share their experiences.

In a patronizing way, Ms. Strummer says, "that she understands those colleagues and comrades who don't want to speak about it. They want to go to Boca Raton and live a good life."

She cannot do that, she states, and adds self-righteously, "I owe." This remark is offensive to the Jewish community in general and especially to the shrinking group of Holocaust survivors.

Who is Ms. Strummer to think of herself as the guardian of what is right and wrong? How dare she demean the lifestyle of those who deserve to enjoy a life of leisure in the waning years of their lives?

She, of all people, should realize that "not wanting to speak about it" does not indicate that they do not care to remember. It is often difficult to open old scars and dwell on unspeakable tragedies.

Strummer says, "I owe." But no one owes her an explanation or justification of how they conduct their lives.

She has no monopoly on suffering, and having undergone her ordeal, she should have learned empathy for her "comrade" survivors.

We all share her love and respect for America. She must be aware that our freedoms include choosing our leisure time when and where it pleases us.

Rubin Sztajer

Baltimore

The writer is a Holocaust survivor. The letter was also signed by four others, including three other Holocaust survivors.

Berlin's Jewish Museum: a monument to absence

Bill Glauber's article about the Jewish Museum in Berlin, "History of the Jews in Germany" (Nov. 21) was of special interest to me, since I was there just weeks ago.

My daughter and I delivered to the museum a packet of letters, documents, photos and artifacts of my late husband, Gerd Ehrlich, a Holocaust survivor. They will be added to the museum's growing collection of family histories.

The article, however, did not do justice to the building's complex and highly symbolic architectural design. Of particular interest are the "voids" a visitor encounters.

These empty, black spaces represent the loss of German-Jewish life and its contributions to Berlin and Germany's culture. These voids would completely fill the vacant, black Holocaust Tower.

The fact that thousands of monthly visitors tour an empty building is, as the article points out, already a tribute to the architect and his creation.

Sibylle Ehrlich

Towson

Jackson had no business defending Decatur students

The video of the melee at the Decatur, Ill. school football game showed young men out of control, endangering the safety of bystanders ("Jackson faces tale of the tape in Illinois," Opinion Commentary, Nov. 15).

If one of the members of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's family had been hurt, it is doubtful if he would have rushed to the defense of the instigators -- especially given the record of those six men who ignored the standards the community had set for all students who attend public school.

Stanley Oring

Pikesville

A waste of lives that lays waste to forests

The Sun's Nov. 19 photo of the Texas A&M tragedy brought to light more than one tragedy. Certainly, the death of 12 students cannot be minimized, but what about the death of 7,000 trees for this event -- and its resulting air pollution?

As a college student, I participated in bonfire rallies, but our fires used fallen twigs, scrap lumber and other materials which would have been disposed anyway.

Seven thousand trees were to be immolated for sport -- something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Bob Gray

Baltimore

What a waste: 12 student lives lost; students with nothing else to do but light a huge bonfire; all that lumber -- which could build several homes; and school administrators whose guidance and leadership condoned this waste, instead of fostering enlightened learning.

What a waste that the environment should be so disregarded; what a waste, of manpower required to watch over the bonfire and protect -- who? -- those who were part of this waste.

Leon Bridges

Baltimore

Does a bonfire serve any educational purpose?

The tragic deaths at Texas A&M saddened our country. When disasters occur, there are never satisfying answers to the question, "why?"

But some questions may be relevant: Why does a tax-supported school annually finance massive destruction of timber? Are government efforts to reduce air pollution negated by the Texas quest for the biggest bonfire?

Are any educational goals achieved by hundreds of students stacking wood as a prelude to a football game?

Robert Y. O'Brien

Severna Park

Why does George Will minimize global warming?

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