“Everybody — every human being — has the obligation to contribute somehow to this world”
—Edith Carter, Holocaust Survivor
by Sarah L. Weiss
On April 27, 2010, I had the honor to speak about my friend and role model, Holocaust survivor, Edith Carter. She was recognized by Na’Amat for her outstanding contributions to the organization and community at large. Edith was born in Czechoslavakia and married in 1937. Shortly after her happy marriage began, the world fell apart, and she and her husband were separated. Edith eventually survived Terezin, Auschwitz, Stutthof, and a death march. She returned to her hometown in hopes of finding her husband, but like the rest of her entire family, he did not survive.
After the war Edith came in contact with Gustav Carter, Ernst’s cousin, who was fortunate to escape to America before the war. In 1948 Edith moved to Cincinnati, married Gustav and was the mother to his daughters Ruth and Janine. Edith worked with him for more than twenty years in his business, Carter’s Variety Department Store, a fixture in Norwood for many years. Gustav and Edith were also blessed with the birth of their daughter, Debbie. After her husband’s death, she worked in the library at Hebrew Union College for 17 years, retiring at the age of 75.
Although Edith lived through the darkest chapter of Jewish history and endured so much loss, she went on to live a full and meaningful life. Her passion and compassion for others have touched many individuals. Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve gleaned from Edith’s work and words.
1. Perseverance: “You have that, that, drive to hold on to, you promised you would do the best you can and that’s what you did.”
2. Education: “We have to have more understanding for the rest of the world, and we have to try to educate the young people, not only a scientific and legalistic education, but we have to give them the ethical and moral aspect to life. And the importance of human rights, to maintain the right of all the people to live a free life. If we don’t do that, we’re bound to have it happen again.”
3. Caring: “To see what’s going on in the world, we have to have more compassion. Caring is what matters most. I cherish my family and devote my time to visiting friends. I care nothing about materialism; possessions are just lifeless things. I plead that we, as part of the human family, exercise and grant care with one another.”
4. Taking Action: “Do not be bystanders, but act with care. We should not wait for someone else to stand up and help but should act ourselves. Everybody, every human being has the obligation to contribute somehow to this world is going to be better.”
This phrase constantly echoes in my mind as I work to remind individuals throughout our community to educate about the Holocaust and its lessons. Only three weeks after I shared some of these same words, Edith passed away. However her legacy is the lessons she left us with. Her actions and words will remain cemented in my mind and her powerful message will continue to touch thousands of students who learn about her through “Mapping Our Tears.”
Edith’s story is featured in CHHE’s traveling exhibits “Out of the Attic” and “Her Story Must Be Told.” Additionally, her testimony is shown in the Mapping Our Tears exhibit. For more information about these resources, please contact CHHE at firstname.lastname@example.org.