Paul R. Temmer, only 4 years old in 1940, survived the Holocaust in Budapest, Hungary.
In 1944, taken to the Jewish ghetto in Budapest, Temmer and his younger brother survived on just four pieces of corn bread for six weeks before the Russian army liberated Budapest, Hungary. “We were robbed of our childhood, growing up very quickly,” said Temmer adding that, “My brother was barely alive at liberation in January 1945, from starvation.”
Temmer will be the keynote speaker for this year’s Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day observance on April 18 at Temple Emanu-El.
In 1944, Temmer, along with his brother and grandparents were rounded up and marched to the Budapest ghetto. Adolph Eichman came to Budapest to arrange for the Final Solution in making Europe "Juden Frei." Over four and a half months, almost a half million Hungarian Jews were transported to Auschwitz where they were taken directly to the gas chambers. “I never saw a German soldier in Hungary,” Temmer told the Jewish News. “It was our own police who arranged to take us to the transports."
Today, when Temmer speaks about the Holocaust to school children he relates how the Jews suffered because of prejudice and discrimination. "It is important to get to meet and know your neighbors before you make a judgment on them.”
Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Brenner Glickman, who is chairing the Yom HaShoah Committee, called this year’s observance a “true collaboration”.
“Twelve different Jewish organizations have come together to organize the event. Yom HaShoah matters to all Jews,” Glickman said. “This year we are making a special effort to bring teens to the events, and their parents.
“For instance, we are assembling a choir of the finest children’s voices from each congregation to sing ‘Eili Eili’ together,” the rabbi said. “I believe that this is unprecedented in our community. I cannot think of another time when we have had a children’s choir with representatives across the congregations. It is really hopeful for the future.”
Glickman said Temmer’s survivor’s story will be the centerpiece of the observance. “When you speak of six million people dying in the Holocaust, it is hard to fathom. Then, when you hear one story, you realize that each person is unique and special.”
The service, Glickman said, is for the survivors. “It is for those who lost loved ones in Holocaust. It is for the next generation to remember. It is for all of us.”
This year’s Yom HaShoah observance is being co-sponsored by the Rabbinical Association, AJC, ORT America, Generations After, Sarasota Jewish Chorale, Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Hadassah, Survivors, Brandeis National Committee, Sarasota—Manatee Synagogue Council an NCJW.