One of the many people I wished I had spoken about in high school (oh wait, I did my senior year in a speech class, and everyone looked at me like I was speaking Yiddish). Luckily, I have had the privilege to have a few email conversations with his sister, who survived. She hasn’t been able to email me in a long time, because she’s so busy, and I can understand why. Why do I care? I think the world lost out on known Petr as an adult and his sister Eva said to me: I think that it was a big loss for me not to have known Petr as an adult. I think that the humanity lost out too.
To me, Petr Ginz is that striving force that makes me want to get this degree and move out of this state and work in a place where people actually know who he was. Now, when I mention Petr, I again get that same look, as if I’m speaking Hebrew. I know I’m split between the movies and this, but they really can go hand in hand. With my film degree or my Holocaust Studies degree, I can put Petr’s name out there. I know Petr didn’t get the same opportunities I do, but I want to give Petr those moments. You’re probably wondering how I manage to get in touch with his sister: NOT EASY. I managed to get ahold of her thorough Yad Vashem. She emailed me one day and said : How can I assist you? I wanted to know what Petr was like, what he dreamed of and how the world could help preserve him. She replied: You just corresponding with me, is preserving him and I appreciate you taking the time to remember him.
He died when he was just 16, but he was a BRILLIANT BOY! If you have ever seen his paintings and read his diary (which you should go order), then you can understand how awesome he was. His sister was not chosen to go to Auschwitz-Birkneau, which is where he died,upon arrival. He wasn’t the only one who is still there, but for a long time, Eva told me: We could not discuss Petr as if he didn’t even exist. It took a toll on my mother especially.
I can understand this: Many families who lost a sibling or a family member had to deal with it. Eva turned that loss into a mission to continue to remember him. She speaks about him at Yad Vashem and she has submitted his pages of testimony (which I have submitted a few, if you don’t know what that is, I’ll try to put in one word: Death Certificate, which is also where I found these lovely pictures of him). He was from a mixed marriage: His mother was Aryan, which you think that would save him, but it didn’t. It saved his mother, but not him. He was a handsome boy and a very gifted boy. One of the reasons I would die to work at the USHMM, so I can talk with other co-workers about him or at least have discussions about the Terezin Ghetto (Where he was imprisoned). What I told his sister is this: Even though I didn’t get the change and privilege to know him, he’s with me all the time. He is in my heart and I never forget him. I talk about him a lot and I carry him in my heart and soul. Petr’s life was made into a film (which I still need to get a copy of!) and his sister, saved his diaries. He always claimed that making a diary was stupid and then he said “Well, must need the diary”. He used his diaries to record the “facts”- meaning what he’s read and what he wants to learn. He had sooo many plans for the future and HE EVEN TAUGHT HIMSELF ENGLISH- ENGLISH Y’ALL. He wrote a letter to Eva, and asked her to reply in English, because English is an important language to know, he was right. Anyways, I hope you find him interesting.