The following is part 2 of a multi-part series that details my return to Auschwitz and Birkenau. It was a difficult time, but it did give me some peace. Below is a translation of what I said to my parents as I visited their marked mass grave, where they were laid to rest.
Translated from Yiddish:
“Dear Mom and Dad, I am your son Benjamin. I am here with my two daughters, Sherry, who is named Sarah in Hebrew after you and Gail, who is named after my sister Goldie. Both of my daughters are happily married and they each have two children. Not every member of our family could travel with me to visit with you, even though they all wished they could, due to circumstances, health reasons and timing. It was very difficult to get them all together at this time. Even my dear wife Jean, who encouraged us to make this trip, was unable to join us due to health reasons. However, here with me is Michael Gerber, Gail’s husband, two of my grandchildren; Robyn is Sherry’s daughter and Adam is Michael & Gail’s son, whose middle name is after you, Father, Loren for Lazar. Michael and Gail have a daughter, Jenica and Sherry another daughter, Cindy, as well as her husband, Larry Kramer. Sherry’s husband, Cindy and Jenica could not make the trip.
Mom and Dad, approximately ten years ago Jean and I, as well as your other daughter Lola (Lajcu) along with Lola’s son Heshie and his lovely wife Pessie, were here visiting with you. At that time Jean and I vowed that even though we will always mourn your loss—we would never set foot on this blood soaked soil again. However, when my own grandchildren and my daughters wanted to know where your resting place is, which made me very happy, I was very pleased that they cared enough and asked me to bring them here. How could I refuse? For let’s face facts I am getting on in age and who knows if I will ever be able to visit with you again. However, it feels good to know that your memory will live on through our children and grandchildren forever.
Dear Mom and Dad, I would like to update you about the rest of our immediate family. Although I am sure that you probably know and that you are probably all together somewhere in a better place watching over us. Unfortunately out of 7 of our immediate family, only Lola and I survived the war. Moishe, Goldie and Tuliko did not survive the Holocaust.
We would all welcome your blessings and your prayers for a long, happy, healthy life. Somehow while I am in front of you, I just know that you will be watching over us.
My dear parents, this is July, 2006. After we have lost approximately six million of our Jewish people, only a small remnant of European Jewry survived the Holocaust. None of us survivors wanted to remain here in these countries where they hate the Jewish people with such passion.
After the war many of the remaining survivors were trying to go to Palestine and hopefully create a Jewish state there, in the land from where we were originally disbursed. It was not an easy task, for every country tried to blockade us from reaching our promised land.
By 1948 – three years after the Holocaust a miracle occurred. They were debating in the United Nations whether Palestine should be allowed to become a Jewish state, and whether the land should be partitioned off, where a portion of it will become a Jewish state. It was as though they realized how the whole world stood by in silence while the Nazis were slaughtering six million of our men, women and children, they knew that if we had our own country to represent the Jewish people, this could have been prevented and instead no one cared, no one in this world shed a tear for us. On that day, the United Nations and the world gave us our homeland – Israel.
I must also tell you that for the last ten years I have dedicated my life to speaking and lecturing in schools, colleges, synagogues, temples, churches and to anyone who will listen about the indescribable atrocities committed by Nazi Germany and their willing accomplices, while the free world stood passively by in silence. I feel that I am running a race against time and that I must give my testimony to as many people who are willing to listen, not just for the present but also for the future. I feel that it is my moral obligation to tell and retell this tragic saga of the Holocaust in order to keep this world from contracting amnesia.
I am of the opinion that it was you, your neshumes, your spirits that were there that day in the United Nations fighting for us. I am of the strong belief that you instilled a guilt feeling into the delegates, or perhaps it was even remorse, but whatever you want to call it, I credit you for making the majority of delegates vote yes for the creation of a Jewish Homeland, so that out of the ashes, Israel was born.
Israel is now 56 years old and Jerusalem is its capital. Hebrew is Israel’s official language. We have a white flag with blue stripes and the Star of David in the middle. Israel is a true democratic country and they have declared the “right of return”, that every Jewish person, no mater where he lives in the world, is also automatically an Israeli citizen. He or she is always welcome. Israel is a very proud and strong country, very powerful for its small size and has excelled in every field, and are contributing tremendously to science, technology, electronics and medicine and the list goes on and on. So you see, it wasn’t all in vain. Yes, I know it was a very high price to pay, but who can understand G-Ds workings. Hopefully some day the true meaning of all this will reveal itself and we might better understand.
But for now, we must say goodbye and I know that some day we will all meet in a much better place. Even though we must depart now, you are in my thoughts. You are always close to my heart. As we say our goodbyes I remembered that.”