June 23, 2009 3:33 pm at 3:33 pm #589949
I was listening to Abie Rotenberg singing “Memories” from Journeys the other day, and started thinking. In the song, he says “like a fleeting shadow, no one will recall the faces of the past”.
This is a scary thought. When I was in high school, my Rosh Yeshiva once said, in a shmuz, that we need to drive our grandparents crazy to tell us stories. He said that he knew it was hard for many of them to speak about it, but they needed to, so that the stories of what happened would never be forgotten.
That weekend, I went to visit my grandfather, and asked him to tell me about the war. He never used to discuss it, and I’d never really asked before. I told him what my rosh yeshiva said, and he told me he’d rather not discuss it. I told him that if he didn’t tell me, his experience might very well be lost forever. He finally agreed to tell me one story, if I’d leave him alone.
My other set of grandparents made videos of their experiences through the Shoah Foundation. They used to discuss it, so my family knows what they went through (albeit it in as small a way as can be, only hearing about it).
The last survivors really fading away. Please, don’t let the stories go with them. If you have any relatives who went through the war, make sure you record their stories somehow. Let us never forget what Hitler ym”s and the Nazis ym”s did to our grandparents!June 23, 2009 4:16 pm at 4:16 pm #817822
can we sort of make this the holocaust memorial thread-like everyine say stories they know-yartzeits of ppl that went through it.famous days that things happened-anyone want to start with a holocaust story?June 23, 2009 4:21 pm at 4:21 pm #817823
would you mind sharing the one story he told you?June 23, 2009 4:40 pm at 4:40 pm #817824
I’ve heard that song a few times, and every time I can’t help but cry. It’s sooo sad.
I had no relatives who lived through the Holocaust, but when I think like that, I always tell myself yes, I did. I may have not known them and I never will, but I feel for them as if they were my cousins, and they were…Hashem Yinkom Damam.
I remember that my parents had guests for Shabbat, on old man and his daughter, and they both had numbers on their arms…I was a little girl then, maybe eleven years old, and I kept thinking who knows what these people have seen and lived through. How much pain could a person tolerate and still survive? The people who had lived through the Holocaust are dying out now, and what will become of all their memories?
The same thing that has become of all the other memories of Jewish suffering throughout the diaspora…
“The preservation of the Jews is really one of the most signal and illustrious acts of Divine Providence…and what but a supernatural power could have preserved them in such a manner as none other nation upon earth hath been preserved. Nor is the providence of God less remarkable in the destruction of their enemies, than in their preservation….We see that the great empires, which in their turn subdued and oppressed the people of God, are all come to ruin…And if such hath been the fatal end of the enemies and oppressors of the Jews, let it serve as a warning to all those, who at any time or upon any occasion are for raising a clamor and persecution against them.”
Thomas NewtonJune 23, 2009 4:41 pm at 4:41 pm #817825
My grandfather was in Buchenwald during the war. At the end, he was taken on the forced death marches. At night, they’d find a hotel. The Nazis would sleep inside, and the Jews were locked into the barn of the hotel for the night.
One night, my grandfather was the last person entering the barn. As he walked in, the Nazi officer gave him a shove. He was just skin and bones, and was sent flying across the barn. He hit the wall, which was made of wood. At the spot he hit it, the wood was rotten, and he felt it crack when he hit it. He stayed pressed up against it for a while, so it wouldn’t fall. He told me that he knew if everyone started climbing out, they’d be spotted, no matter what time it was.
After a while, he let it down slowly, climbed out of the hole in the wall, and ran away into the woods.
That’s the first part of the story. I have to get back to some work, I’ll try to finish it later. It gets better.
Plus, I like keeping people in suspense.June 23, 2009 4:45 pm at 4:45 pm #817826
I can only tryMember
Just last night many of the things you said occurred to me, and I was thinking of starting a similar thread.
In his shmoozin my rosh yeshiva would mention one of the worst things that could happen to a person is to be forgotten – ????? ?? ??? ??? ????- as if he never existed and never was created.
Topics about which questions that can be asked are:
– how parents met
– funny stories
– how and why some decisions were made (where to live, businesses)
There are many websites that have useful suggestions.
Your kids will probably enjoy hearing stories about yourselves, your parents, oterh relatives, and especially the people they are named after.June 23, 2009 5:23 pm at 5:23 pm #817827
Ok, here’s the rest of the story:
So my grandfather escaped into the woods. He was walking through the woods for a few days, and he got very sick. Later he found out he caught typhus. He stumbled into a town, where they took him and brought him to the hospital. He was told that a bunch of Jews had escaped from the Nazis and found their way to this town. They were all being treated in the hospital.
In the hospital, his typhus wasn’t getting better. It got to the point where he passed out. The next thing he knew, he woke up, in a cold, dark room. He had no idea where he was – the last thing he remembered was being in a hospital bed. he stood up, and felt fine. A bit hungry, but no fever, no dizziness or anything that indicated typhus.
He searched around until he found a door. It was locked, so he started banging. A nurse came and opened the door. Her face was white. She said, “But you’re dead!” She told him that he had gotten to the point that they really thought he died, and they stuck him in the morgue.
He walked out into the hospital, and saw it was almost empty. He asked what happened there, and she told him that the Nazis came through the town. They discovered the Jews in the hospital, and the doctors helping them. They killed all the Jews, and the doctors also. The nurse told him, “If you hadn’t gotten that sick, you would have been shot by the Nazis also. Your getting that sick saved your life!”
I don’t know where my grandfather went from there. I do know that he went to a DP camp in Germany, where he was reunited with his wife, who had also survived the camps. They moved to the US a few years later.June 23, 2009 5:34 pm at 5:34 pm #817828
Feif un, unbelievable! What hashgacha! So smart of you for asking your grandfather about his experiences. Just imagine. No one would’ve known these stories!June 23, 2009 5:35 pm at 5:35 pm #817829
I always felt unatached to the people in the Holocaust. When I was little I read all the war diaries but other then that I really have no connection. It’s really sad. I guess I’m what you can call a real yankee doodle. I don’t know how I would be able to connect to these people. Any ideas?June 23, 2009 6:53 pm at 6:53 pm #817830
Every survivor has a story or stories about how or why they endured the war. If your parents or grandparents remained alive after those years then you are part of their survival too. It’s also amazing when you realize that most survivors would not have met and married each other if not for the holocaust. And we, the children and grandchildren, would also not exist.June 23, 2009 7:03 pm at 7:03 pm #817831
wow feif un that is beatiful story.June 23, 2009 7:47 pm at 7:47 pm #817832
I have dozens of stories. I’ll share some shortly.
One set of grandparents have stories without end. My grandmother came from a family of 18 siblings- 4 survived. My other set of grandparents hardly ever shared any experiences- they were both niftar. It is a heart-wrenching thought that a part of my family’s history is lost forever…
To those that don’t feel the connection to the Holocaust- I wonder, do you read a book about the Spanish inquisition and not feel anything? The blood libels and pogroms and Cossacks… these atrocities don’t touch you?
Kol v’chomer the Holocaust- it’s so recent and tangible. We still read about Nazi hunters- still today. There are more than a handful of Holocaust museums all around the world. We see with our own eyes what’s left of most of the survivors- wrinkled, toughened people that have sacrificed EVERYTHING for the next generation, and the next generation, and the next… They are unfortunately going, going gone. We ourselves are living breathing testimony- how can this not touch you? I do wonder.June 23, 2009 8:17 pm at 8:17 pm #817833
An interesting note: I know that my mother is named after someone from her mother’s family who was killed in the war.
I was once riding on the bus in Brooklyn, going towards Boro Park. It was pretty empty. A frum woman got on with a young girl – probably about 5-6 years old. The girl sat down next to me, with her mother next to her. The mother had a cell phone, and I heard her say out loud to someone what her last name was. It was the same as my grandmother’s maiden name. After the call, she turned to her daughter, and called her by her name. It was the same as my mother’s name.
I turned to her and said, “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help overhearing your daughter’s name, and your last name.” I explained about my grandmother and mother. I know that my grandmother had some family that survived the war. She said she didn’t know my grandmother’s name, but that didn’t mean anything. She also said her daughter was named after someone from her husband’s family, but she didn’t know exactly who. She did know that the name was used by a few cousins also. We said good-bye, and that was it.
Who knows – she could have easily been my cousin!June 23, 2009 9:07 pm at 9:07 pm #817834
Physically my connection to the Churban is very indirect; two great uncles who were deported from Vienna and killed in Chernovtzi which is here in Ukraine.
While I cannot feel it the same way as a child or grandchild of survivors can, I still feel it every day. Most of my friends are indeed close relatives of survivors, if not of the Nazis then of the Communists.
And I live in Eastern Europe, where every day we are rebuilding what the Nazis and Communists tried to destroy but succeeded only in barely putting on hold. If I ever need a reminder, I need only walk to the town square, to a department store turned mall where I occasionally shop.
There, a plaque testifies to the memory of the Yidden who were killed on the adjacent square.
And I just came back from walking along that square as I do every time I go to shul, dressed proudly as a Yid, with full beard and tzitzis flying in the wind. The music in my mp3 player was no different than what was loaded in there when I lived in New York and used it for a brisk walk along Broadway or Kingston Avenue or 13th Avenue – much of it was recorded by sons and grandsons of survivors who sing the praises of our Father in Heaven as their ancestors did in shuls and at chassunes in this very region where I live.
During the war, I would have been shot for that. Afterward, I would have been marked as a subversive, as a member of an organization that was lehavdil regarded as a combination of Al-Qaeda and the Gambino Crime Family by the rotten Communists YMS.
A few old Communists parade down the main street in front of that square every May 1. They may well have been collaborators during the war as well, but they are old, impotent fools now. Indeed, they are laughed at along with the Hara Kishkas, Mormon missionaries, meditation advocates, and other “freaks” who make utter fools of themselves in public here in town.
But where are the Nazis now?
The answer is, they are gone, and their memory is trampled under my feet and the feet of every other Yid who walks proudly on that square, pausing to notice the memorial to those who gave up their lives al kiddush Hashem and are now watching us rebuild from the highest heights of Gan Eden, waiting only for that moment when they will come back and meet us, in Yerushalayim habenuya.June 23, 2009 9:12 pm at 9:12 pm #817835
Feif Un- knowing me, I would have followed up
There are countless stories of long lost relatives thought to be dead. They just featured one in the MishpachaJune 23, 2009 9:17 pm at 9:17 pm #817836
Beautifully written kilobearJune 23, 2009 9:24 pm at 9:24 pm #817837
‘Hara Kishkas’ is halacha LOL. I was told that you cannot write the name of a currently worshipped getschke and the 2 anti-cult activists I know, one a very serious ‘Yekke’ type and the other more relaxed, both use this. In fact I wonder if I should have left the second M out of the name of the missionaries from Utah as what I did type is the name of their idolatrous book.June 23, 2009 9:56 pm at 9:56 pm #817838
If you would have left out that second ‘M’ I wouldn’t kishkes left to hold onto!June 23, 2009 9:56 pm at 9:56 pm #817839
more specifically, Rabbi Miller, tz’l says they are in Gehinnom. everything they did to Jews is being done to them with a million times interest. He said that Htlr, yemach shmo, is being burned up completely every day, a slow agonizing “death” only to be reconstituted for another day of the same, never getting used to it, forever.
i dont know if he meant this specifically or only as a mushal.June 23, 2009 9:59 pm at 9:59 pm #817840
….and what will ours look like?June 23, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm #817842
Which reminds me, the Yad Vashem website has very good records of those who went through the Shoah – not sure if it is limited to those who were killed or also survivors. I found people who have the same first and last names as my family and are from the same region. Moreover, their histories matched the best information I have for my great uncles HYD. They are clearly cousins of my grandfather AH and of his brothers HYD and I apparently have a distant cousin in Haifa; she was the one who submitted the information.June 23, 2009 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm #817843
And keep in mind that the “Society for Kishka Consciousness” which is the official title of the Hara Kishka, is as much Hinduism as the Kabbalah Center is Judaism. Followers of each of them can explain themselves away from here till tomorrow, but they are cults plain and simple. Kishka here preys on idealistic, confused students and has them standing out in cold weather, wearing shmattes and handing out or selling books that are avoida zoro even for bnei Noach. In my town, the Jewish community is BH strong enough to rescue any Jew who falls into that filth but in other places I am sure they have entrapped pure Jewish neshomos.
Anyway, last time I checked, Ukraine is not a misspelling of Uttar Pradesh and is therefore not a province of India. Kishka, and the meditation freaks who I believe claim to be Fallen Wrong, are alien cults which ruin lives.
Indeed, the Nazis are in Gehennom, and the worst torture they undergo is that they see every day how we have rebuilt ourselves after the Churban.June 23, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm #817844
that is the question we must keep in mind at all times, especially before making a decision, small or largeJune 23, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm #817845
dd- please spear us, especially in THIS thread, and quit defending other “cultures” and “beliefs”June 23, 2009 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm #817846
I can only tryMember
Very well put.
dd-June 23, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm #817847
“However, in the same post that you proudly proclaim that you walk through the town square with your beard and tzitzis (which is wonderful), you denigrate others who dress in the way of their religion and culture as “freaks” who are making fools of themselves.”
what is wrong with that? doesnt fit in with modern western liberal ideals? all men are equal? everyone has a right to his own opinions?
there is Hashem and His Torah and His People.
then, LEHAVDIL, there is avodah zarah, atheism, paganism, and the “religions” that are nothing but a distorted, crooked, degenerate attempt to vaguely imitate the Am Yisroel. they are on opposite sides of the universe. it is permitted, even a Mitzvah to use letzonos when referring to that which stands k’neged the Torah (see Mesillas Yesharim)June 23, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm #817848
Thanks for that, Feivel. I was going to come back and post something similar but I see that BH you already said it better than I can.
While I do not denigrate the local galochim for dressing as they do or consider them among the freaks who practice completely bizarre forms of avoido zoro, as far as we are concerned even they are just advertising that they are oivdei avoido zoro (the local notzrus is very problematic due to apparent worship of images and pagan elements that were retained from pre-notzri avoido zoro) whereas we are proclaiming that we are His oivdim and His am segula.June 24, 2009 12:16 am at 12:16 am #817849
The flip side of living in a multicultural democracy is that we can forget who we are and think we are another multi culture which is how the average non-Jew indeed does see us.
While there is no need to denigrate others unless they are disturbing us or threaten the bodies or neshomos of Yidden (all of the groups I mention are missionary groups that have suckered Yidden into their klipadige avoido zoro and even the notzrus here is far from innocent especially when it comes to individual galochim promoting anti-Semitism) we must remember who we are and that we are am levadoi tishkoin.
Regardless of the origin of any object of Jewish dress worn today, they are part of loi shinu es levusham and are now dovor shebekedusha. (The problem comes when we deride fellow Jews or exclude them on basis of particular dress). And we can never for one moment think that our performing any mitzvah in public is on the same level as chas vesholom an ethnic parade or a display of the dominant ‘religion’ wherever we live. We may be protected by the same laws which allow those parades and displays and we are thankful for laws that punish those who would disturb us when we exercise our rights under those laws, but that is only because we have elevated those value neutral laws of multiculturalism to allow us to protect kedusha.June 24, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am #817850
we are in Galus
all of us, to one extent or another absorb the values of the nations, it is almost impossible to avoid it to some degree, and it is extremely difficult to realize that our minds which we hold to be belonging to us and no one else, are injected with the new york times, radio, bus posters, magazines, radio, conversation. we breathe the air of the nations, we are grain blowing in their wind. we think our values are our own BUT THEY’RE NOT. only the Torah, only the Chachochim can show us the Emes.
this is more so in our generation than ever before, the darkness (the illusory nature of truth) is greater than ever before, in these days before Moshach.
and the job of our generation is to cling to Emunah, to Emes, as much as possible. to be willing to give up our worshipped but defective minds, to the Torah, the biggest sacrifice one can make, which is Naaseh v Nishmah, to give up our minds for Hashem, in the generation that it is the most difficult to do so.
how fortunate we are to live in this terrible time. how fortunate is one such as you ames who is willing to change to come closer to the Truth.
and thank you for telling me i am not completely wasting my time hereJune 24, 2009 12:25 am at 12:25 am #817851
feivel has a gift for putting things in perspective succinctly and without show. This is why his commentary is undoubtedly from the most valued commentary on this site.June 24, 2009 3:37 am at 3:37 am #817852
Feif Un: Amazing story! thanks so much 4 sharing that.
postsemgirl: “IDK how I would be able to connect to these people. Any ideas?”
I know in Israel there are seminaries that have their girls
volunteer & hook them up with helping older couples who are living alone
in the immediate area or nearby. There are many holocaust survivors living
among us that need assistance on a daily basis. Even with little things like
setting the table for shabbos, or taking out the trash or shopping for the basics.
I suggest you inquire around your neighborhood, you never know.
Once you get to know them, hear their stories,
you’ll feel connected.June 24, 2009 4:40 am at 4:40 am #817853
Feif Un: that was an unbelievable story! wow! thanks for sharing it with us!
one side of my grandparents went through the Holocaust! they really never spoke about it to us grandchildren! they both were niftar some years back! when my father was young, he said they spoke about it a bit, it was extremely pain for them when they did speak about it! he says that when they even spoke about it, which was extremely rarely, that they has terrible nightmares his parents! he remembers them waking up screaming in middle of the night after talking about the Holocaust! so the topic of the Holocaust was really off limits to ask our grandparents about!
my family has an elderly lady that is a widow that comes by a lot for shobbos, that is always sharing her stories of the Holocaust! so i’ve heard some amazing stories of how she & her friends in the camps survived the war!June 24, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm #817854
Jax, why all the exclamation points?
I’ve heard dozens if not hundreds of stories from my mother’s parents about the Holocaust. They also recorded videos through the Shoah Foundation. BTW, that’s a great thing to look into if you have parents or grandparents who went through it, and want to record their stories.June 24, 2009 3:41 pm at 3:41 pm #817855
Ames, always remember there is a difference between respecting someone’s RIGHT to do something and respecting WHAT they are doing.
In America, where we have freedom of religion (and all sorts of other freedoms), you should respect someone’s right to dress as they see fit. That includes wearing garments that we think are ridiculous. It doesn’t mean you have to respect what they are doing though.June 24, 2009 6:51 pm at 6:51 pm #817856
feivel- you do more good here than you’ll ever knowJune 24, 2009 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm #817858
Feif Un: that’s how i end every sentence of mine in the CR! tiz my signature the ”!”June 25, 2009 2:38 am at 2:38 am #817859
Feif Un- Thanks to the DNA Data Banks people can be reunited with lost family members. I hope I am not hyjacking your thread, but I think this is quite relevant to include here. Family Tree.Com is encouraging people to test and find out their own personal DNA (if you can afford to test). So the memories may not be completely lost, as people can locate their lost Genetic Cousins.June 25, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm #817860
Excellent thread idea. Thank you.
Squeak and Feivel,
I’m with Squeak re Feivel.August 24, 2009 4:25 pm at 4:25 pm #817861
Here’s another story – about my other grandfather, not the one I wrote about earlier.
My grandfather was in a few camps, including Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz. I don’t know which one this took place in.
One of the people had stolen some butter from the kitchen. In the camps, you had to steal food to survive, and many people did it. If you were caught, you were killed. This time, the person wasn’t caught, but a guard noticed it was missing. They brought out the entire group, and lined them up. The guard walked over to the first person, and asked who took the butter. Nobody answered. He shot the person, and walked over to the next person. Again, he asked if anyone knew who took the butter. Again, nobody answered. Boom, he shot the second person. He walked to the third person. The same thing happened. My grandfather was the next person in line. The guard walked over to him, and pointed his rifle in my grandfather’s face.
“Will anyone tell me who stole the butter, or will another person be killed?”
Conclusion to follow soon… as I said, I love keeping people in suspense.August 24, 2009 4:49 pm at 4:49 pm #817862
feifun please tell us the rest of the story i am soooo curious.
My grandfather was saved with the mitzva of kibud av. my grandfather and his father were standing in line waiting to be told to go right or left. his father was told to go on one side and my grandfather on the other. My greatgrandfather was not feeling so well and my zeidy didnt want to leave his father alone so he ran to his father and the guard shoved him back. This happened a few times and then the guard yelled at him -you want to die then go and let him go to his father. Everyone on the other side nebech died and my grandfather and his father survived. ( his father died a few days before liberation from an infection)August 24, 2009 5:02 pm at 5:02 pm #817863
Feif un, the curiosity is killing me! Tell us already!
working, wow! amazing story!August 24, 2009 5:11 pm at 5:11 pm #817864
Go on, feif!August 24, 2009 5:31 pm at 5:31 pm #817865August 24, 2009 6:02 pm at 6:02 pm #817867
So the guard was pointing his rifle at m grandfather, and asked if anyone knew who stole the butter.
A small boy stepped out of the line.
“I know who stole the butter,” he said.
The guard looked at him. “Really? Who was it?”
The boy pointed at the 3rd man, who was lying on the ground, dead.
“It was him!”
The guard looked at him for a second and burst out laughing. He then let them all go back into their barracks.August 24, 2009 6:11 pm at 6:11 pm #817868
OMG, WOW! Unbelievable! I wonder what happened with the kid.August 25, 2009 8:18 am at 8:18 am #817869
Feif Un: wow! that is some amazing miracle story! it really is great that you got your grandfather to tell you his stories. i’m some what jealous, like i had said before, my grandparents never spoke about what they went through in the Holocaust to us grand kids.March 8, 2011 8:24 pm at 8:24 pm #817870
My grandmother B”H had another birthday recently. I remembered this thread, and wanted to urge everyone who still has relatives who went through the Holocaust, make sure you preserve their stories! The Shoah Foundation will send someone over to record it if you ask them to. They are very sensitive about it, and do a fantastic job. Three of my grandparents did this (the fourth died years before they started).March 8, 2011 8:43 pm at 8:43 pm #817871
My father a”h was an officer in the American army in WW2.
He received two Purple Hearts for being wounded (twice) in combat.
He arrived at Dachau just a few days after it was liberated.
Even for a combat soldier, what he saw there was so traumatic, even with it being a few days after the actual liberation, that he would never talk to me about it.
I think that in itself says a lot about the incomprehensible horrors our people went through.March 8, 2011 9:00 pm at 9:00 pm #817872
Not to get off on a tangent, but though the 3rd Reich IS gone,
we know that B’KOL DOR VA’DOR, OMDIM ALAINU L’KALOTAINU.
We see it now with the yishmaelim in general and the iranian hitler specifically.
Hopefully we have learned something from the harsh lesson of the Holocaust about not hiding our heads in the sand when threats to our survival arise.
For me the message we should take to heart is a pasuk in T’hillim…
Romemot E-l b’gronam, v’cherev pifiyot b’yadam
We need Torah and praises of HaSH-m in our mouths, and a sword (or M-16) in our hands.March 8, 2011 9:11 pm at 9:11 pm #817873
My R”Y once told a story about someone who medically died and was resuscitated. The man was the child of Holocaust survivors. He said that he’d had an experience where he was in a hallway, being escorted by a malach to his din v’cheshbon. He asked the malach what happens to survivors in the next world. The malach replied, “They wear their yellow stars and the numbers on their arms. These repel the prosecutors in the beis din, and nothing can be said against them. With nothing against them, they are allowed straight into Olam Habah, and wear these badges with pride!”
I don’t know if the story is true or not, but it has a nice message, so I relayed it to my grandmother. her reaction surprised me. She said, “No! I never want to see that yellow star again, even in Shamayim!”
AOM, you are correct. We can’t understand what they went through.
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