Last week, I traveled with my grandmother to Krakow, the city where she was born, for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. During the commemoration ceremony, my friend and classmate Ambrose Soehn and I had the opportunity of performing a piano piece that we composed, inspired by Holocaust survivors.
My grandmother, Celina Biniaz, is an Auschwitz survivor, the youngest surviving Jewish woman on Oskar Schindler’s list. Her father — my great-grandfather Ike Karp – was one of Schindler’s accountants in his enamel factories.
Performing in honor of my grandmother and in memory of my great-grandparents was a surreal moment in my life. It not only reaffirmed my passion for philanthropy, but also made clear what my role is for the future. As a third-generation survivor of the Holocaust, I understand that all genocide, past and present, is wrong: that each life is equal, regardless of race, culture or belief.
I feel a responsibility to teach other young people about the ills of genocide. I will continue to do so through music as well as my work at the USC Shoah Foundation. Our generation can have an impact, even through small steps of advocating for tolerance. In the words attributed to the man who saved the lives of my grandmother and her parents, “He who saves one life saves the world entire.”
Alex Biniaz-Harris is a senior at the University of Southern California and an intern at USC Shoah Foundation.