web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



On Account Of An Apple: Chanukah in Buchenwald


One evening we sat at the table while he peeled an apple, giving me a quarter to eat. My father loved apples and as I child I was mesmerized by the ritual he had for eating them. He would never just bite into one; it would first be washed and then peeled in one long winding strip from top to bottom.

“Let me tell you a story about apples,” he suddenly said, “and how they can save a person’s life.”

During the early war years Buchenwald had a canteen where prisoners who were sent money from outside could purchase foodstuffs, and a few boys in Chaskel’s group bought a sack of apples there. Noticing the division of apples taking place in the block corner, Chaskel chided the boys, reminding them they were now part of a group.

How could they purchase apples and eat them at the table while other boys in the group had nothing? They should remember the common good, he said. Under such circumstances either everyone gets some or no one should have any.

“We must always remember that we are responsible for each other here,” he concluded. “Otherwise the Nazis will have won in taking away our humanity.”

The boys understood. The apples were put on the table, divided into quarters, and everyone ate. The boys learned a lesson that would stand them in good stead in Buchenwald: it was incumbent on everyone to help his fellow prisoner.

Equally important was that the incident had been observed by the block leader, a prominent communist named Erich Eisler who had risen in the camp’s interior administration. Hearing Chaskel’s short speech Eisler was sure that despite his religious background, my father was “one of them.” This erroneous belief that Chaskel was a secret communist – all on account of an apple – was instrumental in saving his life more than once during his years in both Buchenwald and Auschwitz.

If work, food and sleep were the triangle in which a prisoner’s body functioned, there was no parallel framework to nourish the spirit. Each prisoner had to find his own emotional or spiritual solace according to his beliefs. The communist comrades maintained contact and there was even an underground communist library in Buchenwald. The Orthodox prisoners, Chaskel among them, eventually developed their own methods of meeting their spiritual needs.

From their early days in camp religious prisoners kept a luach, a Jewish calendar, to know when holidays would occur. The first festival Chaskel celebrated in Buchenwald, less than two months after his arrival, was Chanukah. As the first night of Chanukah approached, a number of Jewish prisoners spoke to him about the upcoming festival.

“They came to me and said how wonderful it would be if a few of us could get together and light candles to celebrate the event.” As much as the thought appealed to them, they knew that in the context of a Nazi concentration camp it was fraught with danger.

The days passed and Chanukah grew close. Once again the men approached Chaskel, asking if he could think of a way to put together such a gathering. One evening after work Chaskel approached Erich Eisler and mentioned that it would soon be Chanukah and a few of the prisoners wanted to put together some kind of clandestine celebration. Would this be possible?

The blockeltester’s initial answer was a resounding no. “But I wouldn’t accept that as his final answer,” my father recalled. “I appealed to his communist spirit, explained that by not doing so he was collaborating with the Nazis. The Nazis were trying to break down our spirit. Anything that could lift up the Jewish spirit should therefore be deserving of support on the part of the communist leaders in an attempt to fight Nazi tyranny.”

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “On Account Of An Apple: Chanukah in Buchenwald”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Protecting a young baby from rocket fire when the Code Red rocket alert siren sounds
6 IDF Soldiers Hurt in Gaza, Missile Fire Blankets in Israel
Latest Indepth Stories
Young children 'recruited' by the Al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) terrorist group for a Shari'a jihadist army in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS poses a great threat to the entire civilized world in general and liberal democracies in particular.

kerry clown

Kerry is preoccupied with pressuring Israel, notwithstanding the transformation of the Arab Spring .

journalism

With no shortage of leftist media that seek to distort the news, what should our Torah response be?

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett

Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

People test Israel every day to see how serious we really are in knowing when we are right.

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

More Articles from Judith Tydor Baumel-Schwartz

In the summer of 1993, shortly before I was to participate in an international conference on the concept of the hero in Jewish history, I began researching how Israeli society had perpetuated the memory of the Yishuv (Jewish community in pre-state Israel) parachutists from World War II.

There are only a handful of mitzvot about which the Torah hints to their reward and even fewer about which we are told precisely what the reward will be. One of these is kibbud av va’em, honoring our parents, the fifth of the Ten Commandments given at Sinai.

Various types of fruit cross our doorstep during the course of the Jewish year. But for me, the symbol of Judaism is the apple. Not the Rosh Hashanah apple dipped in honey but the one I learned about from my father, which began a chain of events that became a lesson of faith during the darkness of the Nazi years.

“I was arrested by the Gestapo on the 9th of September 1939, and taken out of the house to a prison in Frankfurt a/M. There I met quite a number of people in the same situation who had been arrested in and around Frankfurt and they knew as little as I did about what was happening, except that we have been arrested by the Gestapo.”

My father, Chaskel Tydor, was among the Jewish prisoners liberated in the Nazi camp of Buchenwald on April 11, 1945. Born to a chassidic family in Bochnia, Poland in 1903, the year Orville Wright first successfully flew an aircraft at Kitty Hawk, he had grown up in Germany where his family had fled at the outbreak of the First World War, marrying and raising a family.

Passover is a festival of freedom, chag hageulah, when we remember our deliverance from slavery in Egypt. For my father, Chaskel Tydor, Passover was also a reminder of the slavery he experienced during his lifetime – of his five and a half years in the Nazi camps of Buchenwald and Auschwitz.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/on-account-of-an-apple-chanukah-in-buchenwald/2009/12/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: