Holocaust survivors and members of the Russian-American community came together in Brooklyn on Sunday to pay tribute to victims of the Holocaust. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner has the story from Sheepshead Bay.
"She's always 11, always 11."
Brooklyn resident Bella Gubenko holds a photo of an aunt she never knew. The young girl was one of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust. Never forgotten, those children were the focus of Sunday's Holocaust Remembrance Day in Sheepshead Bay.
In attendance, a number of Holocaust survivors, some holding signs bearing the name of the village or concentrate camp where they lived as children themselves.
"The conditions in Jewish camps were very bad. Every day, a lot of people passed away," said survivor Mikhail Sirota. "It is not easy for me in my heart to remember what was in the past."
Not easy, but important, said City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, whose father survived three concentration camps as a teenager and never spoke about it.
"Many Holocaust survivors just don't speak out. They hold it in," Deutsch said. "We need to educate not just the Jewish people; we need to educate the world that something like this happened only 78 years ago."
The event wasn't just about the past, but the future as well. As the number of Holocaust survivors grows smaller each year, the community feels it's vital to pass their stories on to a new generation.
"They ask us questions. What did we eat in the Holocaust camp? How did we wash?" said Pavel Vishnevetskiy, the president of the New York Association of Holocaust Survivors.
"We are the new generation, and that's our mission: to keep memories alive, and to keep the culture alive," said Ykaterina Ronin of the Association of Eastern European Jewry.
While the event is now in its 14th year, some say this year's gathering holds extra significance:
"Particularly with what going on in or country today with anti-Semitism, with hate rallies, with white supremacists," State Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein said.
"It's important to take that history and learn what we shouldn't be repeating," Councilman Rafael Espinal said.