April 28, 2014

"You thought you were dead?"/"Yes, I was under a mountain of dead girls."

"I touch my hand, and I see it’s not cold. It’s warm. And I walk out."

(Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah.)

12 comments:

Grundoon said...

I am from the midwest, have never visited Europe, and was born 9 years after WWII ended--but the holocaust is part of my life experience indirectly.

In about 1975 I made a trip to California with a group of college friends and one stop was at the home of the grandparents of one of the group. They were Jewish and were immigrants from Germany, coming the US after the war. The first thing my friend's grandmother said to us was that it did not matter to her that we were not Jewish, we were welcome in her home. She served us a meal and told us lots of family stories. After dinner she brought out a picture album of friends and family. Many of them went to the camps and never returned. She told us the stories with as much matter-of-fact tone of voice as she could muster but the pain was still there as we should not be surprised. That visit was about 40 years ago now and my memory of the visit is still fresh. Only 30 years separated the end of the war and our visit and her memories were still fresh, too.

Oh, also, my father was in the US Army at the end of the war, landing in Marseilles in December 1944 and traveling across France and Germany into Austria before the end of the war in May 1945. His division liberated some of the concentration camps. His job was to be a radio operator in the headquarters group. I wonder what messages he sent. He never said anything about the holocaust to me. I discovered this bit of history on the internet. He has passed away and when I asked my mom about it she said that he had told her that he had seen former camp residents making their way home still in their striped camp uniforms. Anything else he knew he did not share. He was a mild-mannered squeamish guy and I wonder what pain he carried from spending months among the death and destruction of war. He spared us from thinking about it by keeping it out of the family discussions. He was proud of his service in the war and what the allies accomplished but I am sure it came at a personal price to him.

James Pawlak said...

Islam still supports the teachings of the Koran to kill Jews where ever they are.

Deb said...

I deeply regret not talking to my father about his war experiences. He was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7th, then in Europe. He never discussed it with us but apparently did to some extent with my mother, because she told us some things that, later in my life, made me wish I had gotten him to talk.
I have a dear friend whose mother is a Holocaust survivor, along with her own mother and sister, both of whom are now dead. Karen is 97 years old. She does not know what happened to their father. After her camp was liberated, Karen made her way back to her village, barefoot, hiding in the woods and waiting for a signal that it was safe to go home. They immigrated to the United States a few years later. My friend's father's family left German before the war for Israel, being one of the first German families to settle there.

So many stories will die with the survivors, unfortunately.

Illuninati said...

James Pawlak said...
"Islam still supports the teachings of the Koran to kill Jews where ever they are."

There is no question that Muslims were up to their ears in the Holocaust and many Muslims intend to complete what the Nazis started. This represented an escalation in the traditional Muslim anti-Semitism. There is a well supported Hadith in which Muslims will fight and exterminate Jews just before the time of the end. This hadith fuels the present genocidal rage among the Palestinians. Many Muslims probably believe that the fulfilment of this hadith in which they will defeat and slaughter Jews is at hand.

As a temporary measure, throughout most of their history, Muslims allowed Jews to live in Muslim lands as dhimmis (a second class status slightly better than a slave). If they were wronged, Dhimmis had no legal standing in court against a Muslim. Dhimmis had to redeem their lives by paying jizya to their Muslim overlords. I they could not pay jizya they were killed.

In at least one contemporary account the Muslims of North Africa would help themselves to married Jewish women at will. The Muslims also placed a premium valued on white slaves - especially white women whom they would use as sex slaves. Black slaves were less valuable.

CWJ said...

Our Polish son Tom and his family live in Krakow. They have no interest in visiting Auschwitz.

I'll wait a moment while some readers of that last sentence think "well of course those Polish antisemites would want to sweep it under the rug."

Tom's grandfather was sent to Auschwitz because he was a member of the Polish resistance.

It does not minimize the horror of the holocaust to also remember that the Nazis were equal opportunity murderers.

paminwi said...

I did not know this happens every year on Holocaust Memorial Day across Israel. Amazing.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kGPbA9wowRk

Elliott A said...

It is important to remember the fine line which separates us from tyranny and the horrors visited upon many throughout history. Yom Hashoah is a fitting reminder to all of us that the wolf is always at the door.

ken in sc said...

I met a man who was an Auschwitz survivor. He was not Jewish, he was in the polish resistance. He was arrested when he was 16 yrs old. He said that if the Germans had known what he had done, he would have been shot. Since they were not sure, they sent him to Auschwitz instead. One of his duties was pulling a sledge full of dead bodies from the gas chambers to the ovens.

He was a retired nuclear engineer for General Electric.

wildswan said...

When you take away someone's rights, you lose your own humanity.

David said...

Compare this slaughter with the current American fixation on micro aggressions. Consider how silly and shallow our current educated elites have become. These are the same elites that seem unconcerned about the forces that would like to put the finishing touches on what the Nazis started.

Bruce Hayden said...

Oh, also, my father was in the US Army at the end of the war, landing in Marseilles in December 1944 and traveling across France and Germany into Austria before the end of the war in May 1945. His division liberated some of the concentration camps. His job was to be a radio operator in the headquarters group. I wonder what messages he sent. He never said anything about the holocaust to me.

My grandfather was a judge on a war crimes tribunal for one of the concentration camps. There were three of them on the tribunal, and what we do know is that they had some of the staff hung as a result of war crimes committed. Unfortunately, some 40 or so years later, after he was gone, and my grandmother in the hospital, my mother's sister's husband apparently went through my grandparents' stuff, and threw out my grandfather's diaries of the time, since they had no interest to him (despite them not belonging to his family, but rather, ours).

In any case, my grandparents, with another couple, were touring a concentration camp some 30 years after the trials, and my grandfather, who was one of the most stoic people I have ever known, couldn't bring himself to tour much of the facility. My grandmother indicated that this was maybe the only times, in 50 years of marriage, that she had seen him shaken to his core, as the tour revisited the horrors that he had to hear testimony about right after the war.

While it would have been nice to have him tell of his experiences at that time, it wasn't going to happen. Too horrific. That is why the diaries would have been nice.

Larry J said...

The Nazis were indeed equal opportunity murderers. In addition to the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, the Nazis murdered about five million Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses and others. Their deaths are just as tragic and are equally deserving of memory.

Back in 1995, I spent a year helping a retired pilot named Jim Fore (now deceased) write his autobiography. In July 1944, he was a 19 year old B-17 pilot. He was shot down on his 28th mission and along with 6 other members of his crew, was captured by the Gestapo while trying to make their way back to the Allied lines. They endured weeks in Fresnes prison outside Paris before being transferred to Buckenwald with about 160 other Allied airmen. During his three months there, he dropped to about 90 pounds and was near death. A Luftwaffe officer saw them being held there and got them transferred to Stalag Luft III (where the Great Escape had taken place several months earlier). He credits that German officer with saving their lives. One American pilot, L. C. Beck, died in Buchenwald. Jim was finally liberated by Patton's forces (after a long forced march) in April of 1945.