Holocaust survivor Toby Levy shared her life story with employees of the Matterkind media marketing company in New York City last week at a meeting organized by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), in collaboration with Zikaron BaSalon.
The 90-year-old Levy — whose experiences are detailed here and here — was born in Chodorow, Poland, in 1933 — the same year the Nazis rose to power in neighboring Germany. After the invading Nazis took over her hometown in 1941, Levy and her family survived the war by hiding in the barn of a Christian neighbor, Stefania Struk — who, along with her son Tadeusz, was ultimately recognized by Yad Vashem as a “Righteous Among the Nations.”
Levy recalled her first encounter with the Nazi occupiers, saying, “When I saw my father’s face as the Nazi soldiers screamed at us, I knew my world had ended. ‘Am I a roach, are they going to step on me?'”
“My father taught me how to survive, and how to be a good human being, how not to hate, and who I am, who we are,” she added. “Someone has to survive and tell our stories. Today we made it, and now we pray for the next day. Where is God? God gave us choices. Stefania chose to save us, and others chose to kill us.”
The visit of Levy to the Matterkind office was part of an ongoing initiative to bring Holocaust survivors to U.S.-based media and technology companies in an effort to educate about the Nazi genocide and raise awareness of the perils of rising contemporary antisemitism eight decades later.
Speakers from Matterkind included Yael Lubarr and Samantha Weintraub, and Thomas Muratore performed on the violin. The multi-media team consisted of Nikki Bonner, Donna Du, Marc Mangra, and the event would not have been possible without the coordination efforts of Margarita Leonard, Raman Khanna, Sarah Locke, Jillian Morgan, Jack Lamarre, Brooke Matalon, Michelle Buchalski, Amanda Said, Michelle Gustilo-Smithson, and Jonah Pfluger.
Nearly 200 people attended the gathering in-person, with more than 100 others joining virtually from Matterkind’s six U.S. offices.
“You can have revenge without killing,” Levy told her audience. “I have Jewish children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The idea in DP [displaced persons] camps was to have children, and name them after our parents.”
Levy also noted, “Antisemitism is rising here today, and the American Jews we’re trying to fight it, but it’s scary.”
“You will be my witnesses, deniers will come after when I’m gone,” she warned.
Additional media outlets and companies participating in the initiative include Google, Snap Inc., theSkimm, The Dallas Morning News, The Tennessean, The Washington Times, and National Religious Broadcasters.
Other Holocaust survivors who have shared their testimonies include Sami Steigmann, Menachem “Mickey” Warshawski, Maud Dahme, and Elizabeth Wilk.
As the number of survivors with living memory of the Holocaust dwindles with each passing year, the need to enshrine the lessons of the past and pass them down to future generations is only growing more imperative.