Rede von Lisl Hacker am 17.05.2009


Hallo! Guten Tag – es ist eine grosse Ehre hier heute zu sein. Vielen Dank fur diese Moglichkeit und ich will auch alle danken, die dies Ereignis organisiert haben – sehr wunderbar. Ich will erstmal ein bischen auf deutsch sagen. Ich spreche gar nicht perfekt aber ich hoffe, dass alle mich verstehen konnen. I apologize for those that don’t speak German, bare with me a little bit, I’ll switch to English soon, I promise. Obwohl ich Amerikannerin bin und in dem USA aufgewachsen bin, bin ich auch halb Osterreicherin – ich denke meine bessere Haelfte. Ich bin sehr stoltz auf diese Haelfte. Vielleicht war es meine osterreichische Name oder den Akzent von meine GroBeltern oder meine Liebe fuer Mozartkugeln und Sachertoerte, aber hatte ich immer grosse Interesse fuer Osterreich und habe ich immer eine starke Verbindung zu Osterreich gefuhlt. Ich fuhle mich wirklich Zuhause wenn ich in Wien bin.

Deshalb war es sehr wichtig fur mich meine familie-geschichte nicht nur zu verstehen durch die Geschichte von meine GroBeltern und was ich ins Buecher gelesen habe, aber auch zu wirklich erleben. Fur mich wirklich zu erleben, musste ich Deutsch und lernen, musste ich Osterriech – die Heimat von meinen Grosseltern – oft besuchen (nicht nur typisch Amerikanish, einen Tag hier naechsten Tag dort) und am wichtigsten – sehr gute Freundshaften hier machen und aufrechterhalten. Mit alle diese Sachen verstehe ich besser die Kultur von meinen Verwandter. Es war immer mein Ziel mit meiner GroBmutter in ihrer Muttersprache zu sprechen so dass ich wirklich fuhlen konnte was sie fuhlt und denken wie sie denkt. Wenn ich deutsch sprechen und wenn ich meine Freunden hier in Osterreich besuchen, dann meine grosseltern und alle meine Vorfahren noch leben. Ich bin hier heute nicht nur den Tot von meine ohr grosseltern und grosse Tante zu erinnen aber auch das Leben von allen in meinem Familie zu feiren besonders meine Familie, die hier heute sind – mein Vater, meine Tante, mein Onkel, und mein Kousin. Deshalb muss ich ein bischen auf Deutsch sagen. Aber es ist auch ganz schwer Deutsch zu sprechen und habe ich Jet-lag noch…

…so now I will also say a few words in English. Again it is an honor to be here today speaking on behalf of my family and my generation. As I already mentioned, despite being born and raised in the US, I have always had a fascination with my Austrian roots. When people ask me about my name (which happens a lot), after referencing the Sound of Music and singing a few verses of “I am 16 going on 17”, I proudly explain that my grandparents are from Austria and if the conversation continues I might go further to explain that they are Holocaust survivors. It is the concept of survivor and the resiliency that comes from surviving that has left the biggest impression on me as someone a few generations removed from the actual events of the Holocaust. It is how my grandparents survived and the life that they created in the U.S. that has led me to admire and respect them more than anyone else I know.

From a young age, I wanted to learn all I could about my family heritage and Holocaust – the event that brought my family to the United States. My grandparents had their past, culture, and family heritage brutally and involuntarily taken away from them which left deep pain and scars therefore as someone connected to this past, but without that pain, I felt like it was my responsibility to get back (refind) our family heritage to ensure that their stories stay in our family for generations to come which will in return keep them and all of my ancestors alive. It was bad enough that my ancestors died the death that they did, I didn’t want them or their fate to be forgotten as well which would only add to the tragedy. What started out as a journey to discover my family heritage transformed into a journey of discovering the good and bad of humanity. Instead of letting the often tragic and horrific information I was uncovering, depress or frighten me, it became knowledge that drove the development of my personal character and pushed me further to want to share the stories of my family and the impact of the Holocaust, in an effort to not only remember on a personal level and keep my ancestors alive, but also to remember on a societal level in order to prevent such horrific acts from happening again. As painful and difficult as it may be, as witnesses/survivors of history we must intentionally remember in order to create change around the impact of the Holocaust, ultimately overcoming the persecution. This extends beyond the Holocaust to other such persecutions that continue to exist today such as Darfur and all other ethnic wars going on. I ask you all to keep that in mind after we leave here today.

For last the 3 years I have been attending graduate school at Boston University which is also the home of Elie Wiesel. Over the years I have had the privilege to hear him speak on many occasions. Therefore I would like to end with a quote of his that says, “Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.” The Holocaust is without a doubt an example of despair. I truly believe that with events like today and with these monuments spread throughout the city for all to observe and forcing all to bear witness, hope and understanding will be restored through the acknowledgment of what has happened in the past, leading to hopefully a more enlightened and peaceful future for all of us.