“How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she… Bitterly she weeps at night… there is none to comfort her…When her people fell into enemy hands there was none to help her…All her people groan as they search for bread…their skin has shriveled on their bones… our skin is hot as an oven…I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” (Lamentations)
When I read these words I have no doubt they were written prophetically about The Holocaust of WWII. But for most of my life this statement was not true.
As a Gentile I had little knowledge of the Jewish people, or even of the Holocaust itself. But that is no longer true. For the past twelve years I have been privileged to hear firsthand the words of the Survivors’ experiences and seen today’s tears while reliving the past.
When meeting a Holocaust Survivor for the first time I was unprepared for the depth of raw anguish that was revealed to me. The weeping that tore from Evgenia as she described the gnawing hunger of an eight year old living in the ghetto. Her mother had nothing more to give her than the hoof of a horse to chew on. That suffering child is who she still is today.
As I heard more war accounts of families murdered, forced labor, killing fields in Ukraine, camp and ghetto tragedies, I knew I had to share the words of these survivors, “Tell them so they don’t forget us! Tell them to remember!”
I began speaking, especially in schools. It was not long before I realized most people just did not know.
Repeatedly people would also say, “Oh, I can’t read about the Holocaust. It upsets me.”
I came to the final realization I had to do more to change this circumstance; it was time to start writing. The result was a book deliberately named Why is Great-Grandma So Sad? to introduce the Holocaust to those who know little to nothing about the Holocaust.
The experiences and information came from the accounts told to me by survivors living in Israel. Cameos of the survivors who inspired this work are included in the book. As they worked through their wrenching sadness, I could see the memories are still clear today- like it just happened. Their recall and memory of those times is almost surreal- even to the hair on a man’s arm and his wristwatch. In the midst of their telling, a deep sadness and loneliness filled the room.
If there is one thing that can be found among the survivors, it is their strength and resilience. One survivor was clear on that, “I am not a victim! I am a Survivor!!” This is who they are. They are survivors of the Holocaust. They wanted to live then and they want to live now. With determination, they built a life here in Israel even though some of the foundation bricks of family were gone.
They are incredible people of hope, with an astonishing depth of forgiveness and love.
It is my hope those who read my book will also learn the truth of that time and not allow the voices of those who experienced it to be silenced.