Day 19/20: Lutsk – Psychology

by Mike on August 23, 2010

When we spoke at the Jewish Genealogy Conference in July in Los Angeles, we mostly spoke about how to approach people when looking for donations.  We talked about how to personally connect with people, and through that, get them to support your project.  I learned a lot about the psychology that goes into fundraising and marketing.  Today, I learned about the psychology of how to make a person emotionally connect to an event.

In school everyone learns about the 6,000,000 Jews that were killed in the Holocaust.  I used numerals in the last sentence, rather than spelling it out to overwhelm you with the amount of characters in that number.  That is because I – and probably many others – have never really emotionally connected to the extreme travesty that happened in Eastern Europe during WWII.  I always thought it was horrible what happened, because that is the emotion that had to come with that fact given to you.

Today I actually experienced the emotion that I felt like I should feel when I hear about the Holocaust or Jewish persecution in general. While the number of Jews killed at Auschwitz emotionally overwhelmed me, the connection was deeper today when I visited a mass grave in Lutsk, Ukraine where my great grandfather Joseph Kershner was born.  I went to the site where 20,000 Jews – or let’s just say 20,000 human beings – were shot and killed in less than 2 days and buried in a few anonymous ditches.

This is graphic, but this is what I heard to make me really feel the emotion of awe inspired sadness.  The Jews were lined up, told to strip and lay down in the ditch and then shot. The next group was to do the same and lay on top of the deceased bodies already in there.  Standing where that happened and knowing that in 2 days an entire town was completely wiped of a race made me think of the psychology of how people emotionally connect to events or situations.  It took me standing there and hearing that story to actually feel what I should have years ago, but this is how humans work.  We need to have something personally connect with us to actually feel an emotion deep down.

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