AVON, Conn. (MARCH 2017) – With great enthusiasm, Voices of Hope partnered with Speak Up Connecticut which offers their unique brand of engaging storytelling to its members and guests. Hence, Voices of Hope, which encourages Holocaust survivors and descendants to tell their stories in classrooms and at community commemorations, was a natural fit for this workshop.
Held in February, this Speak Up Connecticut event, featured stories from 7 children of Holocaust survivors, known as second generation survivors. One of the speakers, a member of our Oldcastle Precast family, was Dana Bock-Decoteau, Plant Accountant at Oldcastle Precast Avon, Connecticut.
Considering being a second-generation Holocaust survivor, a summary of Dana Bock-Decoteau’s story:
My Dad, born in Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) in 1934, is a Holocaust Survivor, who lost his father, aunts, uncles, and cousins in concentration camps. At the age of 8, he was sent to a labor camp and spent 2 years and 2 months there. He remembers during that time his tonsils became infected and consequently were removed without any anesthesia or medication by a Jewish doctor who was also an inmate.
However, in 1944, when he was 10, the camp was opened, but the war wasn’t over yet, so he went into underground hiding (literally) for 8 months. There were 10 people in a bunker, not enough room to stand, nowhere to bathe, and one loaf of bread, a week, to share.
He was then moved to Ireland to get Jewish children out of the country, and was part of a group of 120 children who no longer had adults in their lives. Later he went to Israel and then came to the U.S in 1959.
It’s hard for me to describe in a short paragraph how it affected me – but it has. In consideration, all the family I have left on my Dad’s side is him, his sister, and 3 cousins, and their immediate families.
Even though my Dad went through this awful experience, he nevertheless considers himself fortunate that while what he experienced was horrible, it could have been worse, as it was for other Holocaust victims.
Dana remarked, “Speaking at Speak Up CT, as a second-generation Holocaust survivor, was an amazing experience for me. I was surprised at how many people attended this event to hear our stories. Now that I’ve spoken at this one – I am trained to be a 2nd Generation Speaker at schools and other venues, which I plan on doing – I already got a request from a high school yesterday!”
Speak Up Connecticut commented, “Many, many thanks to all of the Speak Up fans who joined us for our Voices of Hope showcase. It was a spectacular show. Our storytellers all performed at an A+ level, and there was not a dry eye in the house. Congratulations to David Gerber, Dana Bock Decoteau, Barbara and Jerry Sperber, Adele Jacobs, Jane Coppa, and Allison Ghamo for your remarkable work. You were all shining stars.”
Voices of Hope are glad the Second Generation is talking and they are hoping that their audiences say, ‘I knew about the Holocaust but I didn’t really KNOW about it. That’s what Voices of Hope is fostering: we want people to understand because once all the survivors are gone, people are going to say, ‘It never happened.’
Voices of Hope is a non-profit organization created by descendants of Holocaust survivors from across Connecticut. Voices of Hope’s mission is to foster a culture of courage and social action against hate, bigotry, intolerance and indifference. We work closely with educators, students, community and civic groups to promote a greater understanding of genocide. Through the voices of survivors, students and others connect to individual experiences during the Holocaust and are inspired to stand against oppression and hatred today. Voices of Hope honors the legacy of the survivors and memory of the martyred and works to pass these lessons on to future generations. We cannot change the past; we can only hope these stories and life lessons will positively affect the future. Never Forget.
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