The whole name for this day is, “International day of Commemoration and Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust.” In these days of people denying that events occured, I feel the need to tell my encounters with this part of history.
As a young adult, I visited my brother Bob in a small college town, in West Virginia. There was a professor in the Library that seemed to have an answer to every question. Even when asked in a different language, he was able to respond correctly in that language.
One of his abilities was to match biblical quotes line for line with staff and students. Living in the bible belt, this shouldn’t come as a surprize, but he was not a Christian. He had memorized the bible and had complete recall of different passages. Often, a quote was presentated to prove a speaker’s point. He would answer with several quotes with the different view point.
One day, I went for a walk with him and my brother. While walking, the sun grew hot and the professor rolled his long sleeves to the elbow. There was a number on his inner wrist. I said nothing but asked Bob later about it.
He was a Young boy in Auschwitz. That is how the Germans kept track of the prisoners there.
“Well, what happened to his family?”
“They didn’t survived.”
“How did he survive?” I wondered.
“Only he knows and he is not sharing.” countered Bob.
I wondered what this man could have done to be singled out for this type of punishment.
Later, I was find out that was common practice in the Nazi prison death camps.
When our daughter was thirteen, my husband and I took her to visit Washington D. C.. We visited many buildings, memorials and museums. I wanted to visit “The National Holocaust Museum”. It has a fountian in the foyer along with a display of many burning candles in rememberance of those loved ones killed in the death camps.
We moved through the displays to be herded into a boxcar filled with the sounds of jewish families being transported to Auschwitz . We were told that as many as 50 people were packed into the boxcars .
Next, we walked into a room with personal items taken from the people as they arrived at the camp. Displays of shoes, eyeglasses and hats had been gathered. The saddest display was of childrens toys and small shoes, all that remains of of young lives lost.
My memories grow dim of the videos that were played for us. But, those small items of children brought home the one small boy who came to the camp and survived.
I say to those who choose not to believe that the Holocaust happened, it did happen and examples of holocausts continue to happen today. What will we choose to do about them . To know what one group can do to another can compel change.
A blue one lays on it’s side
a small teddy bear is propped nearby
memories of lives past
cut short by shower’s gas