Last Sunday tourists at Faneuil Hall strolled by groups of young families in turquoise T-shirts. Standing stock-still in a “frozen memorial,” these groups were a gathering of human statues—a silent presence for a symbolic six minutes. This was their living memorial to the 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The signs they held boldly told onlookers “Never Forget.”
These self-selected bearers of the memory of the Holocaust are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. They call themselves third- and fourth-generation survivors, and they officially came together in 2009 as a nonprofit group called Boston 3G.
The group’s mandate is straightforward: “Our mission is to explore our shared history to keep the memories of survivors alive and to bring together anyone who is committed to ‘Never Forget’ and ‘Never Again.’”
Lisa Einstein, one of the founding members, recalls that the group started with fewer than 20 people. From there this core group looked for other 3G survivors by placing advertisements in Jewish papers and deploying social media. Today there is an active email list of over 500 people who receive news of Boston 3G events that include screening movies, attending art gallery openings and prominently taking part in Boston’s Yom HaShoah ceremonies. Einstein notes that, “It took us awhile to get our footing in the community and to figure out what our place was, especially at the Holocaust commemoration.”
Einstein says the idea for a frozen memorial grew out of the flash-mob concept. “We’re trying to build a group coming from our perspective,” she says. “Our frozen memorial reminds people that it’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. Most of the world has no idea, and even some Jews don’t know. We’re spreading the awareness in a fun way that means something to us.”
Einstein, the granddaughter of two Holocaust survivors, frequently talks to groups about her grandmother’s miraculous survival. Deported to Auschwitz from Hungary, her grandmother found her three sisters at the camp, and the four of them went on to live through four concentration camps, as well as a death march. “The sisters saved each other numerous times, whether it was spooning each other to keep warm or making slippers out of blankets,” she says. “They shared their food rations with each other when one of them was sick.”
The sisters eventually made their way back to Hungary, where Einstein’s grandmother met a childhood friend who spent the war hiding in a hole in the woods. The two survivors married and went to Israel, where Einstein’s mother was born. The family later moved to the United States.
This year, for the first time, fourth-generation survivors, the young children of Boston 3G members, participated in Boston’s Yom HaShoah ceremony. “Most of us were in our 20s when we started Boston 3G,” Einstein says. “Since then many of us married and had children. We wanted to revamp what 3G was and include the 4G piece.” Working with the committee in charge of the commemoration, this newest generation of Holocaust survivors painted rocks for peace to bring to the ceremony. The children led survivors from Faneuil Hall to the New England Holocaust Memorial to place the rocks. “We called them ‘Rocks of Remembrance,’” explains Einstein, “and the children placed them at the memorial in the same way mourners leave rocks at a Jewish gravesite.”
With that gesture of traditional Jewish grieving, a fourth generation stepped up to take its place among survivors and became an important link in the history of the Holocaust.