Ulrika and Joel Citron
Although they did not meet until years later in New York, both Ulrika Citron and her husband, Joel, were born in Sweden, the children of survivors of the Holocaust.
“His story is very different from mine,” she says. “We’re all unique stories.” Her paternal grandparents were killed, and her father was a hidden child in the Netherlands who later emigrated to Sweden. Her husband’s parents lived through Auschwitz-Birkenau after being deported from Hungary at the ages of 12 and 13.
In addition to being offspring of survivors, the Citrons share a passion for supporting USC Shoah Foundation — The Institute for Visual History. Joel sits on the Institute’s Board of Councilors while Ulrika serves on the Next Generation Council.
Earlier this year, Ulrika traveled to Rwanda as part of a delegation to commemorate the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, in which nearly a million people were slaughtered in just 100 days. The group also experienced Institute programs aimed at building peace and reconciliation in a population still divided and scarred by those events.
“Hatred and dehumanization are all around us,” says Citron. Still, she finds hope in the connections made across cultural and linguistic barriers. “It was striking to see Rwandan students learn from Holocaust survivors’ testimonies.” She also witnessed the Rwandans’ interaction with a 92-year-old Austrian Holocaust survivor who was on the mission. They embraced each other in instant friendship forged through the shared language of survival.
“USC Shoah Foundation is not a museum,” she says. “It’s about the future, and about education for everybody — because this experience is not limited to the Jewish people. Genocide can happen to any people at any time. The only way to stop this in the future is to educate everyone about the past.”