03 May 2022

Abertay student selected as UK representative for worldwide Holocaust remembrance project

Daniel Pukkila will help Holocaust survivors share their stories on social media

Daniel Pukkila front shot

Daniel Pukkila, a fourth-year Computer Art and Animation student at Abertay University, has been chosen to participate in a project that aims to help Holocaust survivors share their stories on social media.

The MyStoryYourStory project was launched by Israel’s Foreign Ministry earlier this year on International Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 January) and connects young volunteers with Holocaust survivors so that their powerful stories can be shared on social media.

Daniel, originally from Finland, was selected to take part in the project out of hundreds of applicants from around the world and is the only UK participant.

The application process involved writing a personal statement outlining how his skills and experiences align with the role as well as a formal interview with officials from Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Daniel said it was an “incredible honour” to be chosen to take part.

He said:

The desire to do something about antisemitism was the main driving force behind my decision to apply for this project so I’m honoured to have been selected out of hundreds of applicants. I feel we all have a responsibility to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive so that we can ensure it never happens again. I’m humbled that this project offers me the opportunity to play my part in that.

Daniel is paired with Aviva Komaroff, a child survivor born in 1940, who lost most of her family in the Holocaust. Aviva’s parents and sister fled Poland to Lithuania where Aviva was born. Her family that was left behind in Poland were murdered. Her mother's brother, his wife and her eleven children were shot into mass graves in the Lopukhova forest. Aviva recounts that if they had not escaped, she could have as well not been born.

Daniel will meet with Aviva on Zoom once a week and will hear her story first-hand. He’ll later communicate Aviva’s story on Instagram using the @aviva.komaroff handle.

Once the project has concluded in January 2023, participants will travel to Jerusalem for an in-person commemorative event. Daniel also plans to write a book about Aviva’s experience which he hopes will raise more awareness about her story and the Holocaust.

As with many survivors, Daniel said that Aviva was reluctant to speak about her experience for many years. However, in her later life, she is keen to raise awareness of the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime and takes every opportunity to tell her story.

Daniel said he has bonded with Aviva over their willingness to educate people about the Holocaust. He added that having the opportunity to talk to a Holocaust survivor is an enlightening and humbling experience that will widen his own perspective and outlook on life.

After he graduates from Abertay later this year, Daniel plans to study for a Masters degree in creative writing at Bath Spa University. He said that his participation in the project will also teach him how to tell engaging stories which will prepare him well for his studies.

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