On November 27, WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management invited students and citizens to a talk with Holocaust survivor Henriette Kretz as part of the In Praxi-Speaker Series.
Henriette Kretz speaks calmly of her memories: "The story I am telling you is already 74 years old - a whole human life. I will tell you about my childhood when I was 8, 9, 10 years old." The listeners in the well-filled auditorium can hardly imagine the feelings associated with it. Even the numbers that Henriette Kretz calls are hardly comprehensible. She was born in today's Ukraine. In the local capital Kiev, about 70,000 Jews were murdered in just a few days.
Henriette Kretz comes from an upper-class family. The mother a lawyer, the father a doctor. She shows photos of her family, of her parents, of her aunts and uncles, of her cousins. Except for one uncle and Henriette, they were all murdered by the Nazis. When she was eight years old, Kretz says, her parents were shot in front of her eyes. The child ran for her life and finally found shelter with a former patient of her father, who could hide her in a monastery until the war was over.
Although Henriette Kretz experienced so much suffering and hatred, although she had every reason to complain, she did not come to preach, she says. Rather, she wants to stand up for her children, for her grandchildren and for those present. "We are all human beings with good and bad qualities. Some commit bad deeds because they fall for lies and propaganda", Henriette Kretz is convinced. In view of the acts of protest and violence against refugees and the resurgence of national pride, the 84-year-old makes it clear that a Holocaust can happen again.
Nevertheless Kretz has not lost faith in the good. She was very lucky, she states, but she also met heroes again and again: "I don't go to schools and don't give these lectures to tell you what to do. Decide for yourself what kind of world you want to live in."