San Jose honors Holocaust heroes, looks to future ahead of remembrance day

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Tuesday, January 23, 2024
San Jose honors heroes of the Holocaust ahead of remembrance day
The City of San Jose is honoring lives lost ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, hoping to remember the past in order to shape the future.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Families of Holocaust survivors are recounting their terror as the U.S. sees a rise in antisemitism ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day Saturday.

The day marks the liberation of Auschwitz, one of the death camps where Nazi soldiers murdered millions Jews and others in the 1940s.

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The City of San Jose is honoring those lives lost, hoping to remember the past in order to shape the future.

"I believe the history we remember and the stories we choose to tell, the heroes we choose to celebrate are what we determine who we become," San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said.

Members of the Jewish community shared their family's stories Monday.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Metro Silicon Valley CEO Dan Pulcrano are descendants of holocaust survivors.

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"The only time he talked about it was when he would wake up in the middle of the night screaming from nightmares," Pulcrano said of his grandfather. "And it haunted him for his entire life."

"My dad, my grandmother and my aunts and uncles were in three different Nazi concentration camps, two slave-labor camps in Poland and eventually Bergen Belsen," Rosen said. "That's where my dad survived, my mother survived and they were liberated in March 1945."

Both Rosen and Pulcrano recognized people who helped their families survive.

On display this week at City Hall, is an exhibit recognizing "the righteous among the nations" who helped other families do the same.

"As we move further and further away from that moment in history, people tend to forget," San Jose City Councilmember David Cohen said. "So it's really important to keep that memory alive with an annual remembrance."

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Especially now, with antisemitic incidents reportedly on the rise following the October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

Israel's special envoy for combatting antisemitism Michal Cotler-Wunsh says remembering the past is not only important in honoring the lives lost in the Holocaust but to prevent hate from taking lives now and in the future.

"We have to not only remember the past, but we have to do so in order to identify this strain of antisemitism that plagues our societies, our places and our spaces online, on university campuses and in Congress," Cotler-Wunsh said. "So that never again, not just in the future, but never again the genocidal intended 10/7 attack."

Cotler-Wunsh says everyone plays a role in condemning hate, just like the heroes on display at City Hall did during the holocaust.