This month we are featuring a beautiful portrait of Joseph Gani.
Joseph Gani was an athletic teenager in Greece when his family was deported and sent to Auschwitz. He was forced to work in the Sonderkommando. This unit’s job grim task was to move the corpses of fellow Jewish prisoners from the gas chambers to the crematorium. After months of this terrible work, he and other members of the Sonderkommando revolted, disarming SS guards, and blowing up one of the crematoria. Joseph was killed in the effort. We honor him both by making his portrait and by using his story of courage to inspire students today.
This portrait was made by Lindsay in a workshop at Manhattan College. It was an inspirational workshop where students drew and learned about Memory Project subjects as well as members of their own families. In addition to connecting with the subjects they drew, they forged connections among themselves as they learned about each other’s lives and families. Various students reflected on how they were affected by the experience:
“… I feel closer to the personal histories and more empathetic. The capacity for understanding other people is widened when you take steps to remember and honor them.”
—Antonio R, Riverdale, NY
“My understanding is no longer about the amount of people killed in the Holocaust but about the lives and precious moments each individual contributed to the world.”
—Jorge A. Riverdale, NY
“I was quite touched by the numerous immigration stories in the room because I could relate them to my family’s experience.”
—Sammy S., Riverdale, NY