OCEANSIDE — Holocaust survivor Sol Berger shared his experiences with children through art at the Oceanside Museum of Art Family Day on July 5. A tile-painting project followed his talk with the young audience.
“For young people to hear such a difficult message and have some place to express themselves is a wonderful function of art,” Skip Paul, executive director of Oceanside Museum of Art, said.
Ninety-year-old Berger shared his stories of escaping from the Nazis and hiding in the forest for 14 months before he met and married his wife and they relocated to Italy, England and finally, the United States in 1950.
“Things were good for me here in the United States,” Berger said. “Freedom of movement, freedom of thought and the possibility of education.”
Children gathered around art tables following the lecture to decorate tiles. Some painted cheerful scenes of their family after listening to Berger describe his family, while other children painted buildings decorated with peace signs where Holocaust survivors were hiding.
The tiles created during Family Art Day will be fired and displayed as part of the “Fabric of Survival” exhibit, which is a collection of hand-sewn tapestries by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz that depict the Holocaust.
The lecture by Berger brought history to life for many listeners. “It characterizes it to see a real person and hear a real story,” Kristina Thill of Vista said.
It took Berger 55 years before he started to share his story of survival. “It was not easy to tell my story,” Berger said, “The pain was great.”
Berger began telling people about the Holocaust after his brother, who also was a survivor and worked at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angles, was diagnosed with cancer. His brother urged him to tell people what happened. “I tell the story because what happened between 1933 and 1945 should never happen again,” Berger said.
A second tile-painting day will take place on Family Art Day on Aug. 2. Family Art Days are sponsored by the Leichtag Foundation. For more information on the “Fabric of Survival” exhibit and related events, visit www.oma-online.org.