2015 First Place Winner

2015 First Place Winner

As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, what have we learned from the past so we do not repeat it.


Written by: Marnina Harris


I have two amazing Bubbies to whom I have and will continue to look up to my entire life. They are both role models and teachers, loving, caring and compassionate. I truly hope I can be like them when I grow up. Unfortunately, I never met my mother’s mother, Bubbie Manya. She passed away years before I was born, in fact, I am named after her.


Despite never having met Bubbie Manya, I know this. I know she enjoyed shopping and would love to go to the store and buy me all the frilly dresses that my mother would never wear. I know she was the absolute best packer and gift wrapper on Earth. I know she would love to teach me how to sew.


I know she spoke Yiddish and I know what her accent sounded like. I know she grew up in Poland with a set of parents, four brothers, and a sister. I know she and her sister were the only members of her family to survive the war. I know she was strong, determined and independent. I know she cares tremendously for my family. I know I have a connection to her. And I know all of this without ever having met her.


How can I feel such a close connection to someone I never had the privilege of meeting? The answer is simple. I know because my mother knows. She remembers and she told me all that I have learned about Bubbie Manya. My mother told me and I intend to tell Bubbie Manya’s story to my own children as well, so that they too can remember Bubbie Manya.


There is power in remembering. Remember the speaker that shared his or her story of the Holocaust before a crowded auditorium of students. Remember the stories you’ve heard of both miracles and tragedies in the camps. Remember the movies, documentaries, and interviews you’ve seen of survivors retelling their stories. The most important action each and every one of us can take to ensure the past will not repeat itself is remembering.


Seventy years ago the concentration camps were liberated. People lost everything and everyone they had. We cannot allow the only memory future generations have about the Holocaust to be the dates and statistics from textbooks that they fear may be on their next exam. Our duty 1 is to guarantee that nothing like this ever happens again, and this can be done not through memorization, rather, through connection. We must keep telling their stories because the most important thing we’ve learned is never to forget.