The Bridgeport community remembered Holocaust victims at a special program held at Central High School on Thursday morning, April 11. Mayor Bill Finch, Holocaust survivor Harry Weichsel of Bridgeport, and Kai-Uwe Spankawas, the mayor of Wetter, Germany, held an open discussion with students about the Holocaust. The program’s theme – “Never Again: Heeding the Warning Signs” – was aimed at fostering racial and religious tolerance.
Weichsel, who was born in Wetter and survived Kristallnacht and lost many of his family members during the Holocaust, told students about the atrocities that were committed as a result of this prejudice. In 1941, Weichsel and his mother escaped to the U.S. “It was a frightening life until I landed on these beautiful shores in America,” he told the students.
In 2005, Weichsel returned to Germany, and encouraged the town restore its old synagogue to be used as a museum to commemorate the events of the Holocaust. At its dedication on Nov. 9, 2008 – the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht – Weichsel was invited to speak and members of his family were honored guests.
“A generation or two ago, Holocaust survivors were our neighbors, friends, aunts – living testament to unspeakable evil. Today, time has taken many of them away from us and that makes it more important than ever to have frank, honest discussions with our children,” said Finch. “It’s not enough to say ‘never forget.’ We also must make sure, ‘never again.’”