|Michael Holzmannhofer during the October PSA in the newly-opened Shoah exhibit at Auschwitz. Photo by Dara Bramson.|
Hometown: Wels, Austria
What attracted you to the AJC?
I have always been very interested in World War II and the Holocaust. I realized that my experience at the AJC would allow me to understand the history of 1939 to 1945 in Europe in a deeper way. Therefore, I had to learn about Judaism in general, and the Jewish history of Oświęcim, which was the beginning of a very deep interest into Jewish life, rituals, and culture. Since I began my volunteer service, I recognized that guiding groups and learning about Jewish history at such a unique place fits me perfectly.
What are you enjoying most about your volunteer experience?
I love to work with people. Guiding groups through our museum and teaching them about the history of this town is great. For me, it’s also quite interesting to ask students in my age group what they already know about Judaism and motivate them to reflect on their experience at the AJC and visiting the camps.
How has volunteering here affected you?
Since I’ve been at the AJC, my communication skills have improved. Now I can speak in front of 40 people without any fear. My English is improving day by day, which I will definitely need for the second half of my service through the Austrian Holocaust Memorial Service at the American Jewish Committee in New York City. Secondly, I have learned so much about Jewish life in Oświęcim through the exhibitions at the AJC, and I am also learning so much about the history of the town by simply living here.
What is one thing you'd like others to know about the AJC or think people don't know?
The AJC is a wonderful, welcoming place, which is – from my point of view – necessary if you want to understand what Oświęcim is and was.