Airmen seek to combat the generational idealism of the Holocaust

  • Published
  • By Darrius Parker
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – It has been over 80 years since one of the world’s most infamous and violent catastrophes that killed over six million Jews across German-occupied Europe. That catastrophe, known as the Holocaust, not only impacted numerous individuals and families in the past but also those in the present.

Buffy Slagley, wife of Air Force Institute of Technology professor Dr. Jeremy Slagley, is part of a family that was directly impacted by the events.

“My great grandmother, Natalie, was taken by the Nazis to Auschwitz during my Aunt Vera Rudau’s 15th birthday party in Berlin in 1923,” Slagley said. “Vera and her older sister survived because her mother, my great aunt, had married a Christian.

“Vera was sent to a work camp where she had to repair shoes. Later, she discovered they were shoes stolen from the victims.”

Slagley revealed multiple family members who were either killed or somehow affected, some of whom were as young as three years old. For a while, it seemed as if there was no hope for her family.

“Most of my family was massacred in the Holocaust, with only very few surviving,” she said. “We thought our whole family was gone until we came in contact with Vera’s nephew, Klaus, who still lives in Bremen, Germany.”

For those who weren’t directly impacted, it’s still important to remember such events in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of history.

Capt. Billie DeLuca, AFIT student, was able to attend a tour of the Holocaust exhibit at the Air Force Museum and stated that she would always remember that unforgettable experience.

“Learning about the Holocaust from books or videos is very different from having someone tell you their personal experiences,” DeLuca said. “Our communities have so many people who still bear scars from the Holocaust. The generations that follow have a moral duty to remember because there are fewer survivors every year who can tell us their stories. We must remember an atrocity of such magnitude so that we can guard against it ever happening again.”

Anna Bucy, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility council executive as well as the 88th Air Base Wing Holocaust Special Observance Committee lead, recalled when she first learned about the Holocaust and why it means so much to her.

“I had a Jewish teacher in 7th grade for world history,” she said. “A couple of boys in my class drew swastikas on her blackboards, and she talked to the class about what that meant to her.

“Her parents were survivors. It was the first time I can recall learning about the Holocaust, but I was changed that day. I read everything about the Holocaust in my little school and community libraries. I was relentlessly bullied, shunned, and harassed growing up, and I think that’s why the Holocaust resonated with me.”

As time went on, Bucy ensured that not only she would remember the events of the Holocaust but that others would remember as well.

“In the early 2000s, while I was teaching at Sinclair, I learned about the Holocaust Remembrance and Education Committee,” she said. “That's when I met Dr. Renate Frydman and had the privilege of meeting and hearing the stories of several local Holocaust survivors. I have always felt a responsibility to share the survivor stories I know so they don't disappear to time.”

Despite the fight of those willing to ensure the remembrance, the hatred and bigotry of the past remains.   

“People who seek a less diverse population in any sense are dangerous. The book banning and censorship across this country and the rise in antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion are the beginning stages of danger for all of us. If you wonder what people were doing when the violence of the Holocaust began, we are doing it now.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League, in 2022, there was a record of 3,697 antisemitic incidents throughout the United States, which is a 36% increase from the 2,717 incidents from 2021. Nearly a century has passed, and our world is still witnessing the impact of the past persecution.

This particular fight is now more important than ever. Both statistics and people say that humanity is leaning towards the wrong direction when it comes to remembering this part of history. Although the majority of people don’t possess this harmful idealism, it’s still every person’s duty to find a way to better this world for future generations to come.

The internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2023 is April 18. On this day, Wright Patterson will be hosting a Holocaust remembrance event for the base community at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Kenney Hall from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., where Dr. Frydman will also be the guest speaker. Those who wish to view through livestream can go to