My first memory even remotely related to the Holocaust was when I was in the fifth grade. I remember some one in my class saying nasty things about Germans, and I naively said, "Hey!! My grandmother's German!", thinking I was defending her honor. It was then that Chaya Gitty Fortgang said, in Yiddish, "Leider, leider", meaning something like "how sad for her." I had no idea why she felt sorry for my grandmother; the question lingered for quite some time.
I am not a child or grandchild of survivors, and as such did not grow up surrounded by memories as many of my friends did. The Holocaust became real to me in the ninth grade when the television mini-series, "Holocaust" was aired for the first time. Despite the terrifying nightmares I started to have, I could not stop watching the series. When it was over I was officially obsessed with anything Holocaust-related and began reading every book I could get my hands on. I also took the time to learn about how my family was affected. My maternal grandparents escaped Germany in the late thirties, but their families were decimated. My paternal grandparents, from Poland, also lost many of their family members.
The Holocaust is becoming further and further recessed into the pages of history, and Imore difficult for younger generations to feel a personal connection to. I pushed my kids tonight to attend the Modi'in Memorial Service, even though they will have ceremonies in their schools tomorrow. I want to burn this awful part of history into their psyche. I want them to remember those who were murdered and those who survived. I want them to remember the evil that existed then and that continues today. I want them to remember that at the time of the Holocaust there was no haven, no place a Jew could call home--a place he could return to if times became desperate.
I want them to remember. Always.
The Stuff That Lasts, Part Deux
6 months ago