President’s Message

 
Stefanie Seltzer

Message from Stefanie Seltzer, President of W.F.J.C.S.H.
Welcome to our World Federation on the World Wide Web!

We usually refer to ourselves as “Mishpocha” (also the name of our Newsletter), and call each other siblings.

We are the estimated 10% of Jewish Children in Europe who survived the German deliberate murder of Jewish children. For the first time in history children were the special targets of the killing machine; the Jewish people were to be wiped off the face of the earth, and we, the children, if permitted to live might become the seeds of future generations. Of the six million Jews killed in Nazi-occupied Europe, one-fourth were children under the age of 16.

Each of us has a unique story of pain and survival; flight, abandonment, abuse, starvation, “close calls”, loss of loved ones, and yes, also stories of heroism on the part of our parents, our rescuers, and even ourselves.

Bewildered, we were thrown into a maelstrom of unspeakable horror and brutality that even the adult civilized world could not and would not care to comprehend. Many of us were too young to have experienced what a “normal” life might be, yet suddenly we were plunged into the struggle to survive, by any means, often alone at a tender, innocent age. Constant uncertainty and fear were often our only frame of reference. Yet, those of us who survived have gone on to become spouses, parents, productive members of our communities and in many cases even renown scientists, artists, writers and healers. Our very existence attests to the triumph of the human spirit and desire for survival.

Drawn together by our common past we began forming groups, and holding annual conferences since 1988. In 1997 we formed the Federation of Jewish Child Survivor groups, now comprised of the groups listed under “Member Chapters”.

We’re still actively involved in helping child survivors find missing loved ones and friends, perhaps others with whom one shared a bunk in a camp, or who was in the same convent. Our conference workshops are led by professionals and are meant to help us deal with our past, our unexpressed anger and sense of loss. Many of us want to “do something” with our experiences; to teach the lessons of the Holocaust, the lessons of tolerance, democratic values, empathy for our fellow man.

We strive to make our spouses, children and other family members understand what we went through. We also try to involve members of the “Second Generation”, also called “Sons and Daughters of Holocaust Survivors”, or the “Generation After” in our activities. We hold periodic get-togethers to help them understand us as well as to help us understand their issues in being the children of people forever affected by their experiences.

We Child Survivors have long been the silent generation; silence and invisibility were the tools of our survival. This web page is proof of our strength, hope and determination to improve the world we live in.

Thank you for visiting this site,

Stefanie Seltzer