web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Holocaust Survivor’

Third Generation Breaks the Silence of Holocaust Survivor

Monday, April 8th, 2013

In 2004, I joined the Witnesses in Uniform delegation of 180 IDF officers to Poland. We had the chance to visit some of the major sites of Holocaust memory, including Auschwitz-Birkenau. We also saw the Lodz ghetto – the place where my father was imprisoned during the war.

Every participant on the trip had to spend some time preparing beforehand. I thought that this might be an opportunity to sit down with my father and have him share his experiences with me. He had never spoken about it with me before.

I took him through the entire itinerary of our trip, and I pointed out that we would be passing through the Lodz ghetto. I hoped that he would open up and talk about it. But he didn’t say a word. My father wished me a successful journey, but nothing more than that.

When we got to Lodz, our guides took us to what remains of the ghetto. I tried to imagine my father walking down the street, but I had no information about his time there. I did, however, experience the unique feeling all IDF officers feel when they land in Poland. It’s something I simply couldn’t compare to anything else I’ve done in my life. Our presence there alone was proof that the Nazis failed in their mission to destroy the Jewish people.

The delegation was made up of all types of people – officers young and old, Jewish, Bedouin and Druze. That’s something that makes the IDF a unique military force – we invest not only in protecting the country but also in educating our officers and passing on our heritage and our values from generation to generation.

When I returned from the trip, I sat down again with my father. I showed him all of my pictures, and hoped that he would start talking, but to no avail.

I thought I’d never learn what happened to him, but this year something changed. My daughter was doing a roots project for school, and as part of the coursework she sat down with my father and asked him to tell her his story. For the first time ever, we learned that before the war, he lived in a Polish village called Stieglitz. The Nazis killed all of the Jews who lived there, but he managed to survive.

It’s not unusual for Holocaust survivors to avoid speaking about their experiences. But perhaps it was easier for him to talk to my daughter than it was for him to talk to me. He needed some kind of trigger, and grandchildren are often that trigger.

It was finally time for him to pass on his legacy to the next generation.

This article was written by Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, the head of the International Media & Communications Branch of the Israel Defense Forces Spokespersons Unit.

Interview With Survivor Kate Bernath, Part 1 / 2

Monday, April 8th, 2013

(((CLICK BELOW TO HEAR AUDIO)))

Yishai presents a one-hour heart wrenching and inspiring in-depth look into the Holocaust survival experience of Hungarian Jewish wife, mother, and businesswoman Kate Bernath (grandmother of Malkah).

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Go to Part 2

Rapist of Holocaust Survivor to Stand Trial

Monday, September 24th, 2012

An Australian man who allegedly raped a Holocaust survivor two decades ago will face trial.

A three-judge panel of the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal rejected claims last Friday by the defense for Robert Paul Webb that he could not receive a fair trial because the complainant could not be cross-examined, according to a report by the Australian Associated Press.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave video testimony to police just months before she died last year. She was 70 at the time of the alleged attack in Sydney in 1991.

The judges allowed the prosecution to admit the video statement into evidence, AAP reported. Crown prosecutor Sally Dowling said the woman, who immigrated to Australia in her 20s, had been the victim of a “calculated attack” and it was in the public interest for Webb to stand trial.

Webb, who was 18 at the time of the alleged attack, was charged in 2011 with two counts of aggravated sexual intercourse and aggravated assault. He was charged when police discovered a semen stain on the ground in the car park where the alleged rape occurred and used it to match his DNA.

Germans to Pay Holocaust Restitution to Former Soviet Union Victims

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

In what the Holocaust Claims Conference is calling a “historic breakthrough”, the German government decided on Monday at pay restitution to victims of Nazi Germany now living in the former Soviet Union.

The group of 80,000 living survivors of the German genocide attempt had never received any compensation.

Former US Ambassador to the European Union Stuart Eizenstat, the Claims Conference’s Special Negotiator, praised Germany  for “its willingness, so long after World War II, and in such challenging economic times today, to acknowledge it’s still ongoing historic responsibility.”  The Chairman of the Claims conference claimed the group has been working for decades to get the country to pay restitution to this group of victims.

The compensation package comes just days after a German court’s decision to ban ritual circumcisions, halting one of the most fundamental practices of Jewish faith and raising an uproar of protest throughout the Jewish world.

Estimates are that the new compensation package will be worth approximately $300 million.

Most of the money will come from the Hardship Fund, and will consist of one-time payments of approximately $3,150 to Jews who fled the Nazis during their eastward push. Applications for Jews from Ukraine, Russia and other non-European Union countries in Eastern Europe will begin November 1.

Victims from the east will also now receive as much restitution as victims from western countries – approximately $370 per month.

Germany also decided to relax eligibility rules for those who receive restitution payments for being forced to go into hiding. Eligibility had only been for those who went into hiding for at least 12 months.  Now the eligibility threshold will be six months.

German restitution to victims of the Holocaust was controversial when the idea was originally floated by West German leadership in the 1952 Luxemborg/Reparations Agreement.  Signed by Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett and West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the agreement held Germany responsible for paying Israel for Jewish slave labor used by the Nazis and paying damages for persecution of Jews during the Holocaust.  Private victims would also be paid for property stolen by the Nazis.

Advocates of the measure argued that the funds were a significant contribution to the building of Israel, helping Israel to absorb 500,000 refugees from war-torn Europe, and also helped create awareness of the Holocaust around the world.  In the ten years following the signing of the agreement, West Germany paid three billion marks to the State of Israel for victims who left no surviving heirs.  The money was used to build Israeli infrastructure and other projects.  Half a million private victims have been paid over $60 billion.

Menacham Begin, then Herut party MK in Israel’s first Knesset, former Irgun fighter and future prime minister of Israel, was vehemently against the agreement, leading a large and violent demonstration against the measure.  At the event, Begin told protesters  “Our honor shall not be sold for money, our blood shall not be atoned by goods, we will wipe out the disgrace!”.

The opposition of some members of Israeli society of being given money to appease the loss of the Holocaust was so great that many attempts were made to thwart the agreement.  In 1952, Dov Shilansky, a Holocaust survivor and former commander in Europe’s  Jewish underground tried to bring explosives into Tel Aviv’s Foreign Ministry building in order to stop Israeli-German negotiations.

That same year, an assassination attempt on Adenauer led investigators back to Israel’s Herut party and its members from the Irgun.

‘What’s Happening In The World? – I’m Afraid’

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Special Note: I would like to thank the many people who have written expressing their appreciation for my series of columns titled “When Children Fall Through the Cracks.” I am most grateful for the overwhelming response and I hope everyone who wrote will understand that while I would have liked to publish all the letters, for the time being I am closing the discussion to focus on the many other subjects that have reached my desk.

The following are just two letters that convey the fear and worry people have regarding the rapidly deteriorating world situation.

Letter # 1: Fear of Tomorrow

Dear Rebbetzin:

The world is a scary place right now. The Middle East situation threatens our safety; our economy is nearer to collapse than many people would even imagine; natural disasters are hitting with alarming frequency and devastation, and being a Jew is more of an inherent risk, even in our “civilized” society, than it was before.

I’m just a regular frum woman struggling financially, trying to raise a family and terrified for the future of my children. What can we do? Clearly, Hashem is telling us something. Clearly, something is brewing, but I don’t know what to do with this knowledge. Many say to move to Eretz Yisrael. That’s not an option for everyone. I know the obvious answer is do teshuvah and daven. I know a FFB (frum from birth) woman is not supposed to say these kinds of things, but before and during the Holocaust many people, many mothers like myself, davened plenty and it didn’t save them or their children.

Maybe I am being childish and shallow and shortsighted, but when it comes to the safety of my family, I can’t stomach the “sometimes Hashem says no” line of reasoning. I want to know how to get a “yes” – how to make sure that whatever happens, we will be fed and warm and together and alive.

Spiritually, the world situation makes me feel farther from Hashem than ever. I feel small and helpless, doomed to go with the tide. I can see the writing on the wall and there is nowhere to run. Anyone I have tried to bring this up to, including my husband, either thinks I’m an alarmist and paranoid or gives me tired clichés that really don’t answer any of my specific concerns.

You, Rebbetzin, are a Holocaust survivor and have seen times like this before in your life, at least in some respects. You have a strong faith and are blessed to be able to see through some of the smog to a glimmer of truth and make it understandable to the masses. What can a frum mother with shaken faith and fear for the future do, in practical, realistic steps, to protect herself and her children from the turmoil brewing in the world and whatever it cooks up?

Letter # 2: From a Holocaust Survivor

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I hope you will get this letter. I have been told you only respond to e-mail, but I do not know how to write e-mails. I am eighty-five years old, and though my little great-grandchildren have no difficulty getting on the computer, I cannot get used to it. All this new technology bewilders me and makes me feel out of touch with this generation. I have shared my feelings with some of my friends, and they agree – we all feel so unintelligent, so lost in these times. Very often, my friends and I feel like has-beens, and that, I must say, that is not a pleasant feeling.

It’s not easy getting old, but I’m not complaining. I’m most grateful that I’m not, G-d forbid, in a hospital or a nursing home – that I’m here, alive and comparatively well, while most of my friends no longer are. I must add that I’m even grateful to Hashem that I am able to collect my thoughts and write this letter to you. I know very well that, sadly, not all people my age are able to do this. Nevertheless, I still feel frustrated, not only because of the technology, but because I feel my thoughts and concerns are dismissed.

Ours is a youth culture, and people have no respect for the elderly. When I speak, my children and grandchildren listen respectfully – but they dismiss my words and attribute everything that I say to my Holocaust experiences and my age. I don’t want you to get the wrong impression – they are good children, but I can see by their reactions that they don’t take me seriously. So let me share my worries with you.

I was born in Poland. My parents were wonderful people who were always kind and considerate of others.When the Holocaust began, we were all taken to Auschwitz. My parents and younger brothers were immediately taken to the gas chambers and my sister (three years younger than me) and I survived.

After our liberation, we were taken to a D.P. (displaced persons) camp where I met and married my beloved husband, a”h. We came to America in 1947. My sister, on the other hand, went to Israel and settled in Petach Tikva where she lives to this day. She is also a widow; her husband, a”h., passed away six years ago. She has two children – one lives in Tel Aviv and the other in Ranana.

Upon arriving in America, I was determined to learn English and educate myself. I wanted to become a productive person in my new environment. My husband and I built quite a successful business, which my children are now running, and I retired ten years ago. Sometimes I think I should have stayed in the business. My days are long – I have too much time to think – but then again, I realize that nowadays business transactions are done by computer, and that is a foreign world for me.

I follow the news regularly and, frankly, am terrified by what I read, see, and hear. I see pre-Holocaust Europe being repeated all over again and no one is paying attention. And now that Eretz Yisrael is being surrounded on all sides by Muslim terrorists who openly proclaim that their main agenda is to, heaven forbid, annihilate our people, I am overwhelmed by fear. It doesn’t leave me for a second!

When I speak to my sister (we call each other once a week) she expresses the same fears. And even as no one takes me seriously here and attributes all my worries to my Holocaust past, so she finds the same reaction to her worries in Eretz Yisrael. It seems that people who did not experience that gehenom first hand cannot understand – just like we couldn’t understand what was happening in Europe before the barbaric evil of the Nazis became a reality.

Rebbetzin, my fears do not leave me. I am not afraid for myself – I am already eighty-five – but I fear for my children and grandchildren and for all our Jewish people. So I am writing to you now because you too are a Holocaust survivor and you never hesitate to speak out. You are a woman of great faith, committed to our Torah and mitzvos and if there is anyone who can understand and give some guidance, it is surely you. I hope you will receive this letter and that you will respond to it through your column. Again, I emphasize that I’m not seeking this guidance for myself – I am old, but I am worried for our people.

(To be continued)

Caring For Our Seniors And Holocaust Survivors (Part 4)

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

A Practical Application

 


In the Jan. 4 and 11 issues I reprinted some triggers that may spark awful flashbacks for Holocaust Survivors. When confronted with these triggers, their reaction might cause them to behave in a way that non-Jewish or unknowledgeable caregivers and even relatives might not understand. That is why it is so important for anyone seeking to work with, or be supportive of, this population to understand what these triggers might be. In this way they can either avoid them or help the person cope if they can’t be avoided. I have received several letters that addressed this very topic.

 

 


Dear Ms. Novick,

 

I read your column every week even though I’m neither chronically ill nor a well spouse. (And I hope I never qualify as either one!)

 

I read with interest, your column re: Holocaust Survivor reactions. I live in New York City and am a professional musician. While my knowledge is probably much less than qualified therapists, doctors, social workers etc., I thought the following might interest you.

 

If I am working a job before an audience of the Jewish elderly (I play a lot of single engagements and parties, club dates etc.) and I even hear a hint of a European accent, or G-d forbid, see numbers on someone’s arm, I never play Viennese waltzes. I also try to stay away from German/Austrian composers, even those who died long before the Holocaust.


Also, just a thought… if I was a social director, I would think twice about taking a group of senior citizens to see a Wagnerian opera or even a show like Cabaret, or the Sound of Music, because of where and when the last two take place.


Rosanne Soifer

 


Dear Ann,

 

I had just finished reading your article on “triggers” when I received a call from a very upset friend who works in an office in her home. She had just seen two weekly clients, a mother and daughter. She told me that her cleaning lady had left her basement door open accidentally and her two dogs ran into her office, barking.

 

“I understand people are afraid of dogs. That’s why I keep mine downstairs.” She told me. “But I’ve never seen a reaction like this. The daughter was cowering on the couch, screaming. The mother was beyond fright and began kicking my dogs.”

 

She said that what disturbed her most, was that the women didn’t stop kicking her dogs and screaming (causing the dogs to bark louder and snarl) even when she told them to stop, and took hold of her dogs and told them that the dogs wouldn’t harm them. The daughter just kept screaming after she took the dogs away.

 

My friend just didn’t understand this overreaction.

 

Having just read about dogs being one of the “triggers” I thought the mother might have very well been a survivor. She probably saw people attacked, mutilated and killed by dogs that were trained to do just that. Any one experiencing that first-hand, or hearing about it from a parent, would easily react in the way she described.

 

When I told her this, her anger and confusion at her clients vanished. In fact she felt badly about the incident and vowed to be more careful with her dogs. Before these clients come again, she told me she would double-check that the dogs could not get out of the basement.


A.

 

 


Dear Ms. Novick,

 

Thank you for the articles and list of triggers. I am a nurse dealing with the older population. I have experienced an interesting contradiction that I’d like to share with your readers. If I wear my white coat when I am working with Holocaust survivors, I have noticed they get agitated. If I don’t wear my white coat with other seniors, they don’t think I’m a nurse. My solution is to keep the white coat on a hook in my office and use my judgment about when to wear it and when not to. I know this may sound like a silly nothing, but I have noticed it made a big difference with the senior population I treat.


N.

 

Whether we are professionals, family members, neighbors or a young adult doing chesed; whether we are Jewish or not, it is important to be aware of the history that has had – and continues to have – such an enormous impact on the older population in our midst. It is our responsibility to understand how what we may consider every day occurrences, can cause terrible anxiety in another. It is incumbent on us to not only be aware of these triggers, but to plan practical ways of avoiding them or working around them. We are, after all, “our brother’s keeper.”

 

You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/caring-for-our-seniors-and-holocaust-survivors-part-4/2008/02/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: