Children of the Holocaust

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There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about the Holocaust.

Yet, it happened so long ago. My grandparents who were Holocaust survivors passed away last year. When it’s cold out I constantly feel how lucky I am to have warm boots and a warm place to sleep. A jacket, socks. Even underwear. What did people in the camps and ghettos do without these things? I feel I can visualize the Holocaust on so many counts and in so many different places. From the stories I have heard, the books I’ve read and the movie’s I’ve watched. But have you ever thought about not changing your underwear for days, months, years? Not even having any? Or working in the freezing cold without socks? Socks were the least of their problems…

I always think about the constant fear that the people in World War II must have lived in. And everyone’s fear was different. It wasn’t only the Jews. 11 million people, only 6 million were Jews. Killed, murdered, dead. Constant suffering.

I feel that the Holocaust is so engrained in my everyday life. I watch what I buy, what I spend, how I act. I appreciate and value all that my grandparents and their families died and suffered for. How will we teach our children what happened? How will they feel what I have been blessed to feel? To live as a Jew, as a person with pride that we had overcome Hitler?

My grandparents survived the Holocaust. Most of their family did not. Their history, their love, their life story – I will never truly know. It was rudely interrupted with death, destruction and baseless hatred. My mother always told me that my grandparents saved everything. I saw them save plastic cutlery over and over till it couldn’t be used anymore. My Zaide often awarded me with yummy but outdated chocolates. My grandparent’s living room seemed to be left untouched. Appreciating their living space and nit wanting to ruin it…I guess. The fear of not having, of starving and being without everyday needs transferred on throughout the rest of their lives. This is a fear that I have — to a lesser degree. I am beyond thankful for it – this fear has taught me the value of… every thing.

As War and the Holocaust showed us, material things only went so far until they meant nothing to the Nazi regime. What mattered, literally, was your family and lineage. If you were 1/8th Jewish, you were a Jew. Who you made alliances with, and who was kind enough to turn a deaf ear to Nazi propaganda.

My Bubbe was saved by Nuns and Quakers. My Zaide, by his strength and skill in construction. Both were saved by their families, as they were sent away early on in the war in attempt to save them. But I will never be able to see what went on daily. What my Bubbe and Zaide were like as children, as teens and as prisoners of War.

Their past is buried deep with the ashes of the Holocaust. Not a day goes by where I don’t try and imagine from where I came.

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About inmyroots

Aspiring Success. https://inmyroots.wordpress.com
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7 Responses to Children of the Holocaust

  1. Princess Lea says:

    I hear that, as a fellow Holocaust grandchild. I really can’t waste. It physically hurts me to throw away food. But I am not typical of my fellow siblings and cousins; I just think I got some European genes in spades. Not wasting is a typical European thing, even without the Holocaust, since supermarkets weren’t exactly around. Reading historical novels regularly makes me just so thankful I have a fridge.

  2. Viola Lilac Indue says:

    I read this last week and cried. I couldn’t find the right words, but I wanted to comment… My Ma grew up in poverty. My grandma (Ama) lived through the Japanese invasion during WWII. She grew up learning to speak Japanese instead of Mandarin. I feel your pain. I often feel a lot of guilt, too.

    • inmyroots says:

      Thank you for your emotional response. Poverty runs in many of our veins. And guilt is unescapable yet possibly drives our lives in an important way. So hard to deal with at times…

      I would love to hear your mother’s and Ama’s story! Sounds so interesting.

      • Viola Lilac Indue says:

        Thanks, I’m working on some purging of my past–I see you’ve already commented. Take care.

      • Viola Lilac Indue says:

        Forgot to say…when you mentioned 11 million, 6 million were Jewish, I could tell that every life is important to you. The whole picture is important. I wanted to bring up in my last comment (but was too tired to write it all) it’s hard how a lot of westerners don’t know…over 20 million Chinese men, women, and children were killed during WWII. Many, many were civilians. Pregnant women. Little girls and boys. Rape, torture, experimentation. I was always happy to hear how the German government admitted to their history. How many Germans publicly acknowledged their guilt. Disheartened about the Japanese denial of the their history. Only referring to the Nanjing Massacre as an incident. Some Japanese politicians denying anything ever happened to China. While I watched movies about the Holocaust, cried, and feel so much compassion for them, I was so envious of the attention. The knowledge of Westerners. I would never minimize any historical tragedy for any group of people. But I was always frustrated about how little Westerners seem to know about what happened to the Chinese. How Japanese school textbooks trivialize what they did. The horrors of their war crimes unknown. I was saddened to read reviews of how Zhang Yimou’s Flowers of War, his movie attempted to reach the West, was not well received because it was gratuitously violent and demonized the Japanese. But that’s how they were. It was a novel inspired by true events. Japanese sought out little Chinese girls. Virgins for sex slaves. Chinese prostitutes did step forward to take their place and were never heard from again. The documentary Nanking 2007 didn’t even scratch the surface of what happened during WWII. So sorry about the long comment. Thanks for letting me vent. Take care.

      • inmyroots says:

        Of course. Every soul weather Jewish, Japanese, Chinese, gay, lesbian, straight, male, female, muslim…– is so utterly important. I am so saddened to hear about yet another dynamic of WWII where people were murdered and raped and tortured. Your people…our people. I am also glad how the Nazi regime in a way owned up to their crimes (or fled) unlike the Polish people who turned yet another blind eye to their terrible deeds. I am going to do more research on the Nanjing masacre and write about it. You are right – there is an amount of attention the Holocaust gets but it needs to incorporate everyone who was affected. It’s impossible to do so because so many died and have no one to tell their stories. It’s also easy to pawn off the Holocaust as a thing of the past, and so overdone. But each story and each amount of pain our ancestors, our fellow human beings endured, needs to be remembered. I appreciate so much you sharing your frustration and I promise to try and keep this history alive. I am so happy you found my blog and thus I found you!

      • Viola Lilac Indue says:

        I know! I’m so happy I found you too. I would love to see what you’ve researched. You seem to have great insight into these things. I’m looking forward to it–I’ll wait patiently for it. 🙂

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