Here’s a story that is encapsulated in an acceptance speech that is powerful and brief.
It is the Academy Award acceptance speech by Gerda Weissmann Klein, who is the subject of a documentary One Survivor Remembers, which is Gerda’s account of surviving the Holocaust. One Survivor Remembers won the Academy Award for ‘best documentary, short subject’ of 1996.
This 119-word speech is powerful. Of course, it relies upon the audience knowing about the subject-matter is (the Holocaust) and the speaker’s role in the subject matter.
But the speech is brilliant in that it weaves the related themes of ‘winning’ and ‘winners’ into it, magically jumping back and forth between that terrible time and the present.
Here is the video of her speech and below is the text.
I have been in a place for six incredible years where winning meant a crust of bread and to live another day. Since the blessed day of my liberation I have asked the question, why am I here? I am no better. In my mind’s eye I see those years and days and those who never lived to see the magic of a boring evening at home. On their behalf I wish to thank you for honoring their memory, and you cannot do it in any better way than when you return to your homes tonight to realize that each of you who know the joy of freedom are winners. Thank you on their behalf with all my heart.