JACKSONVILLE, Fla — It 'could always happen again' is the message of the daughter of a Holocaust survivor sharing her story on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
There are multiple events going on this weekend in Duval County to educate and share stories. At LJD Jewish Family and Community Services on Friday, visit an exhibit of a cattle car replica of what was used to transport people to concentration camps. Then Saturday go to a free screening of a documentary about second generation Holocaust survivors where you'll hear the story of one Ponte Vedra woman, Lisa Landwirth Ullmann, and her family.
"He was amazing, so resilient," Ullmann said about her father, Henri Landwirth. "He always said he lived on borrowed time."
Ullmann would not be here sitting on a couch in Ponte Vedra if not for her father surviving the Holocaust.
"My dad moved to five other concentration camps," Ullmann said. "And he somehow survived."
Landwirth lived to be 91 years old, but from 13 to 18 years old, his life was filled with horrors.
"He was 13 so he was bar mitzvah'ed in the ghetto in a secret hiding place," Ullmann said. "Besides my dad and his twin sister, most of my extended family were murdered by the Nazis. I never had the chance to love them or be loved by them."
Ullmann says her father escaped with his life when, toward the end of the war, German soldiers marching him and two others in the woods decided to let them run instead of killing them. Now Ullmann is here to tell her family's story.
"The reason that I continue to keep telling the story is because we need to be reticent of what can happen and that we have to keep fighting hatred in this country and around the world," she said. "This could always happen again."
She says it feels like people are forgetting. The documentary she's in with other second generation Holocaust survivors is being shown two weeks after a public display of antisemitism in Jacksonville.
"I think in a lot of the schools here in Jacksonville, they are very sensitive to what they can teach and what they can't," Ullmann said.
She fights with her family's story. Landwirth went on to dedicate his life to helping those in need including creating a foundation named for his mother who was killed in the Holocaust and a nonprofit in central Florida to send critically ill children and their families on week-long vacations.
"He was able to take this horrible experience in his childhood to doing so many wonderful things," Ullmann said. "I think there's a sense of resilience and I just admire the way he lived his life and how he always saw the glass is half full and I hope that I live my life that way."
The documentary Ullmann is in is called TRACES, Voices of the Second Generation and there will be a Q&A session following its 7:30 p.m. screening at the Wilson Center for the Arts at FSCJ on Beach Boulevard. The event is free, but you need to RSVP, which you can do here.
On Friday you can visit the Frisch Family Holocaust Memorial Gallery at LJD Jewish Family and Community Services from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 8540 Baycenter Road in Jacksonville. The cattle car exhibit is called “The Cattle Car: Stepping In and Out of Darkness” and there will be free tours. The exhibit on display until 5:00 p.m. is called “Art in the Holocaust.”