Sometimes I am asked if I know “the response to Auschwitz’: I answer that not only do I not know it, but that I don’t even know if a tragedy of this magnitude has a response. What I do know is that there is “response” in responsibility. When we speak of this era of evil and darkness, so close and yet so distant, “responsibility” is the key word. – Elie Wiesel
When I read Holocaust literature as a teenager, I was always the strong determined character who beat the odds and survived. Tragedy provided a background for my heroic actions as Miep or Corrie Ten Boom. Motherhood changed all that. Now I’m the mother who can’t stop the Nazis from forcing her child to dig his own grave. The mother who trods with so many others in peaceful lines to the gas chambers holding my child’s hand. Or the very worst, I’m Sophie and I have to choose. Claire won’t read Holocaust literature anymore, it’s too painful. I completely support her choice. If a book comes up that deals with the Holocaust, I quietly warn her to skip it. But as painful as it is for me to read these stories, there is a part of me that believes if millions of people had to live and die this horror, then the least I can do is witness it in some small way.
My greatest honor as an attorney was the opportunity to work with Bet Tzedek to assist Holocaust survivors in obtaining the “Ghetto Pension” [an aside, if you know if a survivor who has not applied for the 2,000 euro Ghetto Pension/ZRBG pension, please contact Bet Tzedek to determine eligibility, today]. From my limited exposure, it appeared that the survivors who were alive today were swept into the Nazi system late in the war when they were teenagers. Not too young or too old to fall victim to the selections, strong enough to survive until the war ended within the next 12 to 18 months. And they barely survived. My teenage visions of bravery were more illusory than I thought. Elie Wiesel’s Night supports my very unscientific theory.
The Nazis arrived in Wiesel’s village in Transylvania when he was fifteen. His experience Read the rest of this entry »