March 18, 2009
David Gewirtzman was born in Losice, a small town in Poland in 1928. He was one of 16 out of 8,000 Jews to survive the Holocaust from this shtetl. 50 members of his extended family were murdered in Treblinka. Jacqueline Murekatete was born in a small village in southern Rwanda in 1984. She was not yet ten when her immediate family was murdered, as well as most of her extended family, in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Jacqueline was granted political asylum in the U.S. in 1995, placed in public school and quickly learned English. One day David came to her school to speak. Listening to him, she was one of many kids who ended up weeping as he described his experiences. But she also saw a connection. She sent David a letter, which read in part: "At one time I, too, like you, had a feeling of guilt for being alive. 'Why was I left?' I asked myself. I never really got an answer to that, but now I'm thankful that I was left because maybe I can make a difference in this world if I try, and maybe I can do my part in making sure that no other human being goes through the same experience as I did." David and Jacqueline have since teamed up to speak about their experiences, with the hope of preventing such acts from happening again.
We thank Mr. Gewirtzman and Ms. Murekatete for telling us their stories. We also thank the Center for Jewish History for hosting us.