Rambling ...

I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It is Yom Ha'Shoah!

“The forgotten victims of World War Two were the children.”   
~ Historian Juliet Gardiner ~

An Ancient Yiddish Maxim declares that "Those who are Remembered Do Not Die" ...  and on this Memorial day my blog is in Honour of the more than 1.5 Million Children (under 12 years of age) murdered in the Shoah.  

One and a half million Jewish children were murdered in the Holocaust and were thus prevented from growing up and fulfilling their basic lives: to live, dream, love, play and laugh. Some faded photographs of children under the Nazi regime remain, and their questioning, accusing eyes cry out. And I challenge you to remain dry eyed as you look at them.

From the day the Nazis came to power, Jewish children became acquainted with cruelty, first in Germany and, as time passed, in every other country the Germans conquered or forged an alliance. The parents and families of these children were unable to grant them the security and protection they needed. Jewish children were separated from their non-Jewish playmates and expelled from state sponsored schools. They saw their parents lose the right to support their families, and often witnessed the descent of the family unit into an abyss of despair.


Eva Munzer ~ Murdered inAuschwitz

As war broke out and anti-semitic policies worsened, the suffering of Jewish children increased: many were doomed to the horrific suffering of life in a ghetto ~ the bitter cold, the never-ending hunger and a multitude of dangerous diseases. There, cut off from the world, they lived in the shadow of endless terror and violence. As smuggling was central to survival in the ghettos, they were often forced to assume the new role of breadwinner for their disintegrating families. 

Henrika Lazobert,  a Jewish poet, wrote a paean to a daring young smuggler who, despite the risks, persevered in finding food for his family.  The poem ends .....

I shall no longer come back to you  (mother)
… and only on my lips
will one worry freeze fast:
My beloved mother, tomorrow who’ll bring you
your piece of bread as in the past?

Henia Wisgardisky ~ Died in Auschwitz

Still, children in the Holocaust remained children, desiring only to partake in activities beloved by all their contemporaries.  In August 1940 David Rabinowitz, a young boy from a village near Kielce, Poland, wrote in his diary:

“During the war, I’ve been studying by myself, at home. When I remember that I used to go to school, I feel like crying.”

When the deportations to the extermination camps began, a chasm opened up in the lives of Jewish children. Throughout Nazi Europe, they fled and hid, separated from their parents and loved ones. Some of them found refuge in the homes of decent people whose conscience would not allow them to remain passive; several were hidden in convents and monasteries and boarding schools; others were forced to roam through forests and villages, hunting for food like wild animals and relying entirely on their own ingenuity and resourcefulness. Many were forced to live under assumed identities, longingly anticipating the return of their father and mother. Some were so young when separated from their parents that they forgot their real names and Jewish identity. Many were forced to train themselves not to move, laugh or cry, or even talk. Upon liberation from Auschwitz, one little girl asked her mother, “Mommy, may I cry now?” (A Personal Oral recollection of my Grandmother who survived Auschwitz).

Felice and Beate Zimmern

Of course, not all Jewish children were lucky enough to find a place of refuge, and many tens of thousands of children were caught and sent to the death camps. Their young age made most the first prey of the Nazi killing machine. More than a million Jewish children were lost in those years, a whole murdered generation. At first children were given lethal injections. Later they were starved or shot or bayoneted or strangled. Or used for mid-air target practice for snipers. These methods proved too much for some soldiers and too slow for the projected 'Final Solution.' Thus were born the extermination camps with their gas chambers disguised as showers. A guard at Auschwitz, testifying at the Nuremburg trial, admitted that at the height of the genocide, when the camp was killing ten thousand Jews a day, children were thrown into the furnaces alive. Never has humanity come closer to evil for evil's sake.

Yet there were other stories too. There were the almost ten thousand children brought, mainly to Britain, through Kindertransport.   Nicholas Winton, then a Stock Exchange clerk in London, organized eight trains from Prague, saving 669 children whose descendants ~ numbering 5,000 today ~ owe their existence to him. In mainland Europe itself thousands of children were adopted, hidden and rescued in orphanages, convents, monasteries and by men and women driven by ordinary humanity to extraordinary acts of courage, knowing that by saving a Jewish life they were risking their own.

Izabel and Solly Marton~ killed in Auschwitz

Yet wherever they were ~ in the ghettos, in hiding and even in the camps ~ they did not surrender moments of childish playfulness. A short break in a daily routine of hunger and dread was enough to summon gales of joyous laughter, childish brawls, and games with toys made of rags and scraps of paper. Together with their beloved dolls, the children could dream of a better world, of returning to their family and lost childhood; and only to these dolls could they open their aching hearts. My Mom had many such tales (she survived Terezin, Czechoslovakia).

At the end of the war, a new chapter began, one of both hope and pain for the life that was gone, never to return. Many children were lost to their families and their Jewish heritage forever. For others, the war’s end marked a beginning of their return to their real selves, a process filled with difficulties and torment. Very slowly, they emerged from hiding, from the forests and the camps, and began the long and painful process of rehabilitation. Despite the scars, they sought to rebuild their lives anew. Some did. Some did not.

Children ~ dependent, vulnerable, defenseless ~ are the litmus test of our humanity. Not by accident does the Hebrew word for compassion,  rachamim,  come from rechem,  meaning a womb. Will we continue to sacrifice our children for the sake of our hatreds, or will we finally learn to sacrifice our hatreds for the sake of our children? On that question, the fate of humanity may turn. We cannot write the future. Only our children can do that. But we can teach them to create a world of respect for difference and to remember the indifferences that allowed the Holocaust to claim 1,500, 000 million childrens lives. An Old Jewish proverb says 'Those who are Remembered do not Die'. Let's Remember  those who did and  those who didn't make it.  All deserve to be at least Remembered!!!! 

ALL OF THE CHILDREN ABOVE AND IN THE VIDEO WERE MURDERED IN THE HOLOCAUST ~ And there are 1.5 million more Stories just like this one out there to be told.  It is Yom Ha'Shoah & today we Remember.  When We Say NEVER AGAIN ... We MUST MEAN IT !!!!!

"Never again will Jewish children stare in fear begging to be spared. Never again will we let our enemies determine the fate of the Jewish people and we will able to protect our sons." ~ IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi.

1 comment:

  1. I takes a special kind of psychopath to do this to a child.