Journeys of Transformation
Please help us to finish this important work by donating. Everything helps!
This book, "Transforming the Legacies of Conflict, War, and Genocide through Dialogue," reminds us that if we value the ideals of justice, compassion and democracy, we need to be its guardians.
One by One, Inc. was created 50 years after the end of WWII to try to grapple with its fallout. Due to the honesty and courage of a small group of people from both sides whose lives were deeply affected, a path was paved to assist not only those who suffered from the fallout of the Holocaust and the Nazi Regime, but for those in other parts of the world who wish to transform their own legacies of war and genocide.
Chapter 3: We are their children (EXCERPT)
“At the end of the seminar, I had the feeling of having climbed a high mountain. With clear eyes, I could recognize the abyss that separated us, created through the terrible deeds of the Nazis. I could also recognize the suffering that connected us as descendants. We must not close up this abyss. We can, however, build bridges across it on which we can meet each other and walk together. In that way we can contribute to dismantling hatred and stopping the hatred from being sown anew.”
– R.W., German Child during the Nazi Regime
“Seated in a sacred circle for five days we shared compassion, mutual understanding – and yes – love. The honest expression of our truths had set us more free from our burdens. For five days we had joined together in confronting the Holocaust – rather than each other. We carried our history like memorial candles. What happened in that room…was the closest to a religious experience I had ever had. That room in Berlin and our honest sharing with each other had become a birth canal through which we could be reborn…Judaism teaches us that when you save one soul, you save the entire world. Divided by the death of six million and bound by mutual pain, we faced each other and struggled against the power of evil to claim the future. And we each had the generosity of spirit to set our pain aside in order to receive the other. Perhaps in doing this we each saved a soul – our own….we had traversed an abyss to find common humanity.
"Once we walked through the gate marked Arbeit Mach Frei (“Work Makes You Free”) it became much colder yet. I felt alienated from the rest of the human race. I wanted to say a prayer at the crematorium for my three grandparents murdered in Auschwitz. We marched there in silence and approached a statue built on what used to be the crematorium. It was surrounded by barbed wire and there was a sign warning that the site might collapse. In the presence of this tangible evidence of genocide I felt crushed. Our group huddled together and several people read prayers in German and English.
"I followed with the twenty-third Psalm:
'The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me….'
"During the prayers, perceptible warmth surrounded us. In a place from whence everything holy departed long ago, the invocation of G-d caused Arnold, son of survivors, to collapse in tears in my arms. I started sobbing. Ruth, the daughter of an SS officer put her arms around us and cried with us, or maybe for us. We became a tangled mass of hair, bodies and tears – Jews and Germans.”
— M.R. of blessed memory, Daughter of a Shoah Survivor
“It is our belief that one of the main goals of Hitler’s philosophy was to depersonalize death, and as long as death remains a depersonalized abstraction, neither will the victims be remembered as individuals, but only as numbers, nor will the perpetrators have to remember their individual faces, and own up to the immensity of their crimes. By reversing this depersonalization and giving names and faces to the victims, and doing this in unison, we feel we are reversing this dehumanization process together by honoring the memory of the victims. At the same time, by allowing ourselves to be witnesses to the pain that has been transmitted to both sides of the children of this history, we are also reconnecting as individuals, one by one, and learning to see each other as irreplaceable individual human beings connected through a history that lies between us, and connected through our humanity which we reflect back to each other by becoming each other’s witnesses.”
— N.F., Daughter of the Nazi Regime, co-founder OBO
"…amidst my fear, I have reason for hope. The day I arrived in Germany, there was a Neo-Nazi demonstration in Berlin. Alongside, there were members of One-By-One present as demonstrators for the other side. With education and dialogue as our most important tools, One-By-One is truly making a difference.
"When someone like me is touched by this experience, I am able to impact other lives. In the months since I have returned from Germany, I have spoken about my experience to groups of teachers, to groups of students, to the Florida Governor’s Council on Education, to the enlisted men and women at MacDill Air Force Base, to many friends and acquaintances, and of course to the juveniles convicted of hate crimes.
"If children of Holocaust Survivors and children of the perpetrator side can come together and listen, respect, and learn from each other, can’t we offer great hope to the world?"
— B.S. Daughter of Shoah Survivors
Chapter 6: Ripples (Excerpt)
One by One’s participants have been multi-generational consisting of Holocaust survivors and their descendants; Nazi perpetrators, bystanders, resisters and their descendants; as well as those who served in the armed forces of the United States and Germany during this period in history. Members of these groups have inspired many in Europe and in the USA by bearing witness to their experiences in schools, synagogues, churches and universities; by creating works of art and by standing up for social justice. One by One has also impacted people from other countries who have suffered from war and genocide. For example:
From Joseph Sebarenzi, former Speaker of the Parliament of Rwanda and a victim of the genocide
“I first came to know One by One in the summer of 2001 at the School for International Training. …After listening to their stories and efforts…, I thought to myself, if these people can do it, then my people, the people of Rwanda, can do it too. If these people, as descendents of those caught up on both sides of the Holocaust, can undertake voluntarily without a push from their governments, the process of grappling with such vicious hatred, then my fellow countrymen, the Hutu and Tutsi communities, can surely benefit from this model of transformative dialogue. This first encounter with One by One reinforced my growing commitment…”
From Paula Green Director, Project Diacom, after having One by One members speak with a group of educators in Bosnia in 2001
“We learned the value of multi-partiality in dialogue, remembering that there is no life without suffering, especially in war and that the journey to healing may begin with a single phrase, “yes, this tragedy happened, I acknowledge your experience, I accept your truth…Muslims, Serbs, Jews and Germans…weave a new story from their intertwined histories, this one committed to honesty, introspection, civic responsibility and compassion.”
From a human rights worker, survivor of the Mayan genocide:
I am Maya Kiche from Guatemala. I had an idyllic childhood, knowing life through contact with nature, my family and my community. This ended when I was 13, as I began to witness the genocide against the Mayan people during the armed conflict in Guatemala (1960-1996). When I was 16, my uncle and his eldest son were assassinated, inside their own home; and his youngest son, and his son in low, were kidnapped and never seen again. For over a year I locked myself in my house to “save my life,” fearing the same would happen to me. My mind, my heart and my spirit were filled with hatred and vengeance against the perpetrators.
Today, I am in my healing process, drawing out from my being that hatred that poisoned my soul. In this process I need to be heard. In One by One I have found a space where people hear my testimony and understand my pain. One by One is teaching me how to release this hatred and discover how to promote my healing process.