Posts Tagged ‘hatred’

I am sharing an old posting of mine. I wrote it in April of 2011.

It’s actually about hope and determination when faced with the worst possible circumstances. But it is also the result of what happens when we look the other way.

The person I was writing about was a Holocaust survivor. His name is Sam. He once had one hundred and eight members in his family back in Poland. Only four survived. Can you imagine losing your Dad, siblings and all of your extended family? Take a moment to really think about that. Imagine if you had a list of your family members and had to scratch each one off, all at once, except for you, your Mom, a cousin and an aunt.

All because of hate.

Ignoring the KKK and similar groups who want to destroy others is not an option for any American. Or any citizen of this world. They won’t just go away. Momentum will be built. It happened in the not so distant past.

I had the shivers watching clips of these groups in Charlottesville chanting, “Jews will not replace us!” and “Blood and Soil!”

Many years ago I visited Dachau concentration camp on a dreary and cold German day.

I had the shivers then also.  And it had nothing to do with the gloomy weather.

There is no place for this in our world. We can’t ignore it or hide our heads in the sand. Like we did in the past.

Butter

Last week I attended a lecture at a nearby university.  The man who was speaking was Sam Silberberg, an 81 year old survivor of the Holocaust.

The reason I attended this particular event is actually quite simple. Because it reinforces my belief in the power of the human spirit. Of determination and survival. Of course, I want to know how these terrible things happen in the first place but I do so want to hear from those that made it. I want to know who helped them and who didn’t. How did they survive?

Sam once had a family of one hundred and eight people in Poland. Only four survived. His mother, cousin, and aunt. His father and siblings perished along with the rest of the clan.

His family and others were discovered in a bunker that his dad had built behind the wall. There was room for about fourteen. But twenty four people were crammed into the room when they heard the stomping of heavy German boots. One of the women had a baby in her arms. When it started crying she grabbed a pillow and smothered the baby. The Germans left but they had heard the baby and soon came back.

Sam questioned his father about God all the time. He was twelve and wasn’t buying that this was somehow God’s will. That they should go peacefully and end their lives with a quick Hebrew prayer.  He loved his father but had different opinions. His dad did encourage him to escape and told him a story. Not about God but about two flies that fall into a bowl of cream. One fly thinks he will never get out, immediately gives up, stops beating his wings and drowns. The other one thinks, “I will get out.” So, he flaps his little wings and kicks his little feet so quickly that the cream turns into butter and then he walks on out of the bowl.

He escaped while marching alongside his father and went to find his mother. They had been told that she was working at a convent that served as a nursing home. When he arrived in the town he became frightened. He didn’t want to get his mom in trouble. At the address he peeked in the front door and then stepped inside. There was a huge cross with Jesus on the wall. He said it was odd because it was a symbol that he had always equated with the persecution of Jews and here he was standing under it.

A nurse came down the stairs and entered the kitchen. When she came out he approached her and told her his mother’s name and asked if she knew of her. 

The woman looked at him and abruptly said, “What do you want with her? Who are you? I am her.”

And he looked up and said, “Mama, it’s me.” 

He said he still got goosebumps today thinking about that moment.

There’s a lot more to his story but he did his best with the hour he had been allotted. He had time for a few questions. One woman asked him about his faith. She wanted to know if this experience solidified his faith? Was that what got him through his ordeal?

He answered, “Absolutely not!”

And then he said, “I have to say that emphatically. Because it was hope and determination that got me through it. That has been my motto all my life. And it should be for yours.” 

He says, “Hey, I gotta be honest.”

Sam joked during the presentation. He laughed at times. Introduced us to his wife in the audience. They had children.

This man was able to rebuild his life. Not without terrible grief and sadness but he survived. And he did it well.

He made butter.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »