Holocaust survivor should demonstrate greater empathyJohn Rivera's...


Holocaust survivor should demonstrate greater empathy

John Rivera's interview with Deli Strummer (" 'Holocaust victor' recounts story of survival," Nov. 14) reflected an air of self-congratulation by the interviewee and a sense of utter insensitivity, if not arrogance, on her part, toward those who she refers to as "my colleagues and my comrades."

She must be reminded that these comrades also give of their time to painfully recount and share their experiences.

In a patronizing way, Ms. Strummer says, "that she understands those colleagues and comrades who don't want to speak about it. They want to go to Boca Raton and live a good life."

She cannot do that, she states, and adds self-righteously, "I owe." This remark is offensive to the Jewish community in general and especially to the shrinking group of Holocaust survivors.

Who is Ms. Strummer to think of herself as the guardian of what is right and wrong? How dare she demean the lifestyle of those who deserve to enjoy a life of leisure in the waning years of their lives?

She, of all people, should realize that "not wanting to speak about it" does not indicate that they do not care to remember. It is often difficult to open old scars and dwell on unspeakable tragedies.

Strummer says, "I owe." But no one owes her an explanation or justification of how they conduct their lives.

She has no monopoly on suffering, and having undergone her ordeal, she should have learned empathy for her "comrade" survivors.

We all share her love and respect for America. She must be aware that our freedoms include choosing our leisure time when and where it pleases us.

Rubin Sztajer


The writer is a Holocaust survivor. The letter was also signed by four others, including three other Holocaust survivors.

Berlin's Jewish Museum: a monument to absence

Bill Glauber's article about the Jewish Museum in Berlin, "History of the Jews in Germany" (Nov. 21) was of special interest to me, since I was there just weeks ago.

My daughter and I delivered to the museum a packet of letters, documents, photos and artifacts of my late husband, Gerd Ehrlich, a Holocaust survivor. They will be added to the museum's growing collection of family histories.

The article, however, did not do justice to the building's complex and highly symbolic architectural design. Of particular interest are the "voids" a visitor encounters.

These empty, black spaces represent the loss of German-Jewish life and its contributions to Berlin and Germany's culture. These voids would completely fill the vacant, black Holocaust Tower.

The fact that thousands of monthly visitors tour an empty building is, as the article points out, already a tribute to the architect and his creation.

Sibylle Ehrlich


Jackson had no business defending Decatur students

The video of the melee at the Decatur, Ill. school football game showed young men out of control, endangering the safety of bystanders ("Jackson faces tale of the tape in Illinois," Opinion Commentary, Nov. 15).

If one of the members of the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's family had been hurt, it is doubtful if he would have rushed to the defense of the instigators -- especially given the record of those six men who ignored the standards the community had set for all students who attend public school.

Stanley Oring


A waste of lives that lays waste to forests

The Sun's Nov. 19 photo of the Texas A&M; tragedy brought to light more than one tragedy. Certainly, the death of 12 students cannot be minimized, but what about the death of 7,000 trees for this event -- and its resulting air pollution?

As a college student, I participated in bonfire rallies, but our fires used fallen twigs, scrap lumber and other materials which would have been disposed anyway.

Seven thousand trees were to be immolated for sport -- something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Bob Gray


What a waste: 12 student lives lost; students with nothing else to do but light a huge bonfire; all that lumber -- which could build several homes; and school administrators whose guidance and leadership condoned this waste, instead of fostering enlightened learning.

What a waste that the environment should be so disregarded; what a waste, of manpower required to watch over the bonfire and protect -- who? -- those who were part of this waste.

Leon Bridges


Does a bonfire serve any educational purpose?

The tragic deaths at Texas A&M; saddened our country. When disasters occur, there are never satisfying answers to the question, "why?"

But some questions may be relevant: Why does a tax-supported school annually finance massive destruction of timber? Are government efforts to reduce air pollution negated by the Texas quest for the biggest bonfire?

Are any educational goals achieved by hundreds of students stacking wood as a prelude to a football game?

Robert Y. O'Brien

Severna Park

Why does George Will minimize global warming?

I'm so glad that George Will explained to me why I am so concerned about global warming. All this time I thought it was because I dread all the human suffering which will ensue from disrupted weather patterns and rising sea levels.

Now Mr. Will has shown me the light: It's really because I want more government control over everyone's lives. Now, doesn't that make perfect sense? ("Gore's argument on global warming is awfully defective," Opinion Commentary, Nov. 18).

I could return the favor and suggest a motivation for Mr. Will's determination to minimize the threat of global warming: If Americans actually started to take it seriously, they might do foolish things like buy fuel-efficient compact cars instead of gas-guzzling SUVs.

Then the oil companies wouldn't sell as much gasoline -- and their CEOs might take home only a couple million dollars.

Is Mr. Will a stool pigeon for the oil companies? Maybe not, but what is clear is that his primary loyalty, like that of the American Enterprise Institute whose booklet he quotes, is to the welfare of business, not to the welfare of the average human being on this threatened planet.

Elizabeth Fixsen


Unity Dinner '99: Where will the money go?

I read with great interest the article by Ivan Penn about the fund-raiser to pay Carl Stokes' debt from his unsuccessful race for mayor of Baltimore ("Benefit billing upsets O'Malley," Nov 24).

When I received an invitation to Unity Dinner '99, I was puzzled: No less than 30 elected officials signed on as hosts, yet nowhere on the invitation was the purpose of the event stated.

Anyone thinking of paying $500 to attend an event, with no idea how the money will be used, surely should reconsider -- and give the money to charity. That way, at least a needy cause could benefit from this largesse.

I phoned the state Administrative Board of Election Laws and Baltimore City Board of Elections and was advised that the Unity Committee has not registered. How is the money it raises to be spent?

Louise T. Keelty


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