The Importance of Telling Our Stories

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Today is Holocaust Memorial Day; a date chosen by many as it was January 27th, 1945 that Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated. Today is a day of remembrance for the 6 million Jewish and the 11 million other lives lost at the hand of the Nazis.

In April, 2021, we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Elly Gotz. Elly is a Holocaust survivor, memory keeper and storyteller. On July 15, 1944 Elly’s family was sent to Dachau - a concentration camp in Germany. His family would endure unimaginable suffering until the camp’s liberation on April 29th, 1945.

We connected with Elly through a funeral director who had heard Elly’s story. He connected us in hopes that we could preserve Elly’s story through one of our photo books. This would become one of the most profound and gratifying experiences in 10 years of storytelling at MyBabbo. We are so proud of the work our legacy creator did in capturing his story. Elly speaks to over 15000 students a year and he felt a photo book with images and key facts would be the best way for students to engage with the material. He also believed his story would be more readily shared this way. Sharing his story and experiences and the lessons from the past is Elly’s main goal.

Elly's photo book
Click here to view photo book we created of Elly’s Story here

Creating Elly’s photo book reinforced the power that photos and stories have to connect us to our history. Remembering our history allows us to reflect and to grow. Elly’s story beautifully captures a life interrupted and how, even after our darkest days, we can emerge to find joy and purpose again.

The story shared in Elly’s photo book is especially important because it was told by him. What a gift he has given us all by sharing his story in his own words. Creating a photo book to honour the legacy of someone who has passed is something to really cherish. But when a person takes the time to tell their own story, while they are still with us, we have something remarkably special. Imagine if we all took the time to tell our own story and to share that story through our most cherished photos? We too could leave a legacy of sharing our lives and the lessons we learned along the way.

We asked Elly why he believes sharing his story is so important and this is what he shared.

1. We need to understand the Holocaust and the pain of the Jews. Six million lives were lost – a third of the world’s Jews, to the Holocaust.

2. To understand how HATE affects human lives and to learn to give it up. “To hate is like taking poison, and hoping the other will die” Buddha said this 2,700 years ago. Free yourself from hate. First, the hate of people who hurt you in the past. Then, the hatred you may have of others, people you might not even know.

3. To learn how important it is in life to learn to do something well, to acquire a skill, a profession, to study.

Elly also shares with students the importance of being kind to immigrants and taking the time to find out who they are. Through this, we will discover our common humanity. Our stories matter. The lessons from our stories matter. We are grateful to Elly for sharing his and for working tirelessly to educate our youth on the importance of love and acceptance over hate and fear.

What story will you tell?

Elly Gotz
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