Holocaust Survivors to Speak at Annual Remembrance Event

Holocaust survivors Al Cohn and Luba Keller will share their stories during Santa Clara County's annual Holocaust remembrance ceremony next week. Keller and Cohn—both Palo Alto residents and among the last remaining Holocaust survivors in the Bay Area—vividly remember being imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps.

"It's astonishing to think of a child being in a slave labor camp," said Diane Fisher, a member of the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley who's helping organize the event. "But that is the story they have to tell."

Every year, there's a new theme to promote discussion around the historic tragedy. This year's event, echoing the theme of an ongoing exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, is titled, "Some Were Neighbors: Betrayers, Bystanders and Protectors."

"This yearly commemoration is ultimately about the triumph of a people in a time and place where hope seemed impossible," county Supervisor Joe Simitian said. "And it's about our willingness to face up to our own human failures, as well as our achievements."

The county invites the public to attend the memorial event, which takes place late Monday afternoon in the Board of Supervisors chamber on West Hedding Street in San Jose. Parking is free in the county lot. A reception with refreshments will follow.

In addition to survivor testimonies, there will be presentations by students from Archbishop Mitty High School, a memorial candle lighting and music performed by cellist Rachel Keynton and Fisher on the piano. A poster exhibit on the history of the genocide will be on display in the breezeway of the county government center for the entire week. This year's sponsor, Supervisor Dave Cortese, will present a proclamation in honor of the memorial.

A committee that includes first and second-generation survivors helps organize the gathering, which takes place every April to coincide with Yom Ha'Shoah, Israel's day of remembrance for the approximate 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis. Communities around the world will host similar events in observance of Yom Ha'Shoah.

In the past, other genocide victims have been recognized—Rwandans, Armenians, Cambodians, Sudanese and others—in the interfaith ceremony. On Monday, the invocation will honor the memory of genocide victims in Vietnam.

"Unfortunately, we’re not very good at remembering history," Fisher said. "So it’s particularly important to recount these stories. As difficult as it is, because of the sadness, we still learn from them."

Below is a video from last year's ceremony, when Holocaust survivor Eva Maiden, author of Decisions in the Dark: A Refugee Girl's Journey spoke about her experience escaping Nazi persecution as a young girl.

WHAT: Holocaust remembrance ceremony
WHEN: 4 to 5:50pm Monday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Diane Fisher, 408.357.6504 or [email protected]


  1. Pope Francis is coming to the USA in September. In my research of Pope Francis’s eagerness to make an immoral Spanish Priest a saint, Junipero Sera while here,
    Many very sad and outrages acts by the Vatican surfaced.
    In the Vatican City Museum there is a stone sculpture of the Feathered Serpent, taken by the conquering Spanish, along with all the gold and silver their ships could carry off from our continent. Pope Francis should conceder a trade to make things right to our Coastal Indian nations. Return The Feathered Serpent to this continent, and in return he could take Saint Juniper Sera, back home to Spain. Keep the gold and silver, but return this Feathered Serpent God back to the it’s rightful place.
    I am researching a book, written by Gerald Posner, titled
    God’s Banker, A History of Money & Power at The Vatican.
    I was absolutely astonished, about the role the Vatican had in the Holocaust. I felt violated by the Catholic Church.
    As a very young boy our mother would send us to Catechism. after each page learned , a gold star was stuck on that page.
    My Dear father was right all along about the Church and it’s priests.
    When the Pope comes to US, he must step into our confessional and confess of all the Catholic Churches Sins, then and only then will we be able to forgive for the atrocities inflicted upon us in the name of God.
    The Holocaust must never be forgotten. The Church’s role must be unveiled, for it’s role in it.

  2. Is Pope Francis, coming to return, all that was stolen , from this continent, in the name of Christianity? I doubt that. Yet why is he coming to the east coast, to declare the worst of the worst, Junipero Serra, a Saint? Old habits are hard to change. Now he has come to STEAL, our dignity.
    ,I have spent my entire adult life, recreating, much of what did survive the Spanish priests. The Aztecs were the most skillful sculptor, of stone on either continent. Little survived the destruction of theses and tablets of knowledge, by the horrific Spanish Christian priests. Once the destruction of knowledge complete , they destroyed the knowledge of thousands of herbal remidies, While replacing them with deseases known only to the Christian world, Small Pox, and so many others. but not before they killed most of the unarmed nor protected Aztecs.
    What followed , was the gradual sequence of death, and destruction of our Coastal Native People, again, in the name of Christianity.
    I have only recently completed a Bronze sculpture of The Plumed Serpent, that is held captive in the Vatican City Museum. There is one other incredibleliful sculpture to be completed with in days. I have started a New web site called AZTEC GODS.NET. Our children, must learn, of the atrocities inflected upon us by the Catholic Church Since the Aztecs were almost entirely eliminated from this planet. few of us survived.
    The Plumed Serpent, will speak to Pope Francis, in the only way the Pope will understand. I am recreating hundreds of bronze Plumed Serpents.
    When the Mayan calendar World ended, so did the horrific control of Catholic and Spanish rule, by atrocities upon mankind.
    POPE FRANCIS, take your Saint Serra home, and place HIM, in your Vatican City Museum, next to the Aztec Plumed Serpent.
    Spare your self the rath of our Plumbed Serpent, “Lightning in the Blood”. Creator of Humans.
    Return the wealth of our continent, NOW!
    Failing this, you will leave a wake of Horrific conquest, all the way back to Vatican City, Italy. There is no escape, now, or ever!\

    The Village Black Smith
    Gil Hernandez

    • Does the “Plummed serpent” (aka quetzalcoatl) or any Aztec god forgive those who repent for their sins? Maybe the Pope can ask. As for the statue I’m kind of offended that there is a pagan god’s statue in the Vatican.

  3. Perhaps the church was going through an intervention. The Plumbed Serpent was a DIety that did not believe in Human sacrifice, as the church did. The Confessional awaits Pope Paul’s vist.
    This visit will decide the fate of Christianity,

  4. I offer my prayers and Hopes to all of our proud Coastal American Tribes, that suffered under the Spanish priest that stole away, a way of life that existed for centuries, All, for the sake of Christianity. Now is your moment to be heard. The Dignity of your Nation is yours to retain.

  5. The Catholic Church, is only as Holy as it’s Saints. Once Pope Francis has made this evil person a Saint, Why would any righteous human being, follow the doctrines of the Christian religions. The answer lies in, WHY IS This Pope Francis, so intent on, forcing this Animal upon the very people this Saint to be , abused, and perhaps Fathered, many of his own children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *