Letter from Ben Lesser

From Ben Lesser to Rainer and the rest of the Footsteps Team. We are humbled to receive this:

'Dear Rainer
It was approximately four years ago that I saw on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, the name Höss . When I read that it gave my heart a jolt for you see, Rudolf Höss was the Commandant of Auschwitz and was responsible in killing over a million people, including some members of my immediate family and many of my extended family. Rudolf Höss was hung in Auschwitz in 1947. As I kept reading on I saw that they were talking about his grandson, Rainer Höss, who is also an author, lecturer and the founder of the Footsteps Team in Germany. He is doing exactly the same thing that I am doing however; there is one great difference between the two of us. I, as a Holocaust survivor, feel that survival thrusts upon me a mission to write, lecture and Shout-Out. I feel an obligation as a survivor to do everything in my powers to keep this world from acquiring amnesia. That is why I formed the Zachor Holocaust Remembrance Foundation. This is why we do many things to keep the memory of our six million dear departed ones alive. This man Rainer does not have to do this!!!

So I asked my daughter Gail who is the director of the Zachor Holocaust Remembrance Foundation to try and get his information, so we can talk and we did on the phone for over an hour. When I returned to Dachau on the 70th anniversary of liberation of Dachau. Rainer and I met for the first time in a resort town near the Bavarian Alps.

I will never forget our first meeting, when I saw you pulling up in the parking lot and he came out of the car. At first sight I thought to myself had this been the 1940’s I might be afraid of this guy. But when the two of us embraced, I felt that our hearts melted together. Neither one of us could let go. I don’t know if you might have experienced some guilt or atonement for your grandfather’s sins but you, Rainer are a wonderful person who should carry no blame. I have great respect for how you divorced yourself from your family and that you are doing exactly what I am doing lecturing and writing about tolerance and love, instead of hate. When we spent the rest of that day comparing our missions and sharing visions as to how to make this a better and more peaceful world, I will tell you, that time will last in my heart and memory forever, along side the time you came out to the United States twice just so we could be lecturing together side by side and passing on the message of tolerance, love, acceptance to future generations. Just as we did side by side to students in Germany recently. Now I am on my way home from our last adventure in the beautiful Black Forest of Germany with our mission that should never be forgotten. My dear friend Rainer we will be “Speaking Out” against intolerance and the bigotry that helped to set the stage for the Holocaust.

While in Germany with my daughter Gail, we had the privilege of meeting your entire Footsteps Team who are all very hard working individuals dedicated to the cause of keeping this world from acquiring amnesia.
The world would love to forget that we humans are capable of such atrocities, which is a black mark to mankind. However we at the Zachor Holocaust Remembrance Foundation as well as all the dedicated members of your Footsteps Team are working very hard against ignorance and hatred. For we know that the Nazi’s did not start with killing. It started with hate.
Whether it’s Nazi Germany in the 1930’s or any other Genocide anywhere else in this world, it all goes back to hatred. We must each choose to take responsibility to living lives that work against hatred, hateful words, schoolyard bullying. Hostile political campaigns even reckless driving, all these things contribute to an environment of hatred and hatred can only exist where people are ignorant. We must constantly provide anti hatred education, in so doing we can contribute to the healing of others.

Here at the Zachor Holocaust Remembrance Foundation along with all those dedicated members of the Footsteps Team are working very hard to stop the hate.
Please remember that Love or Hate are both contagious. So choose Love.
Gail and I were overly impressed by the Footsteps Team:
The people that you have chosen to get your message out to the world are all of the highest standards.

Your Co-Founder, Simon Bell of the Great Britain Branch is such an accomplished Author “Auschwitz Birkenau” – From Hell to Hope and Author of “Tribalism and Prejudice”. His books are fascinating and so is he. His nonstop dedication to the success and international outreach of your mission is quite impressive.

We were so happy to be able to spend some additional time with Giuseppe Leone from your Italy Branch, his mission is a tough one talking to students and dealing not only the Holocaust but sexuality and homosexuality during that era and how people were persecuted and how it still is happening today.

Ms. Simone Boersma, from your Netherlands Branch is a compassionate woman and educator that has the awareness and insight to work with survivors and refugees, truly an asset to any organization such as yours.

Finally, I want you to know the honor it was meeting and getting to know Dr. Ralf Dieter Kruger, a pious man with a resume of accomplishments longer than my arm. His compassion, insight, knowledge and deep understanding of the human mind. His teaching of tolerance, difference and indifference are such valuable tools that will empower generations to come.

Please give our regards to the whole team, just two many to bring up in this note. However, I do want you to know that they are “top notch” as we say in the states and your success and legacy of the Footsteps Team will live on forever because of your commitment.
Rainer, I want you to know that I consider it a great honor that you and I were able to lecture together in several schools and appear together at Bad Liebenzell and Nagold. That is a pleasing memory which we both share for as long as we shall live.

I am proud to call you my friend.
Love Ben'

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