Friday, April 13, 2007

To be a Woman in the Holocaust 2007

Life is intensive. Sometimes I am worried how to fill the days. But somehow something always crops up. I got an invitation to the opening ceremony of the exhibition in Yad Vashem Spots of Light, To Be a Woman in the Holocaust.
I casually mentioned it to my son and asked if he could give me a lift to get there. He did not only take me there, but showed an interest to see the exhibition. As we got as far as Mt. Herzl, a long line of cars was ahead of us. Slowly, slowly it moved forward. Once having passed the security check Danny let me of and looked for a parking place, finding the last one available. Hundreds of people came streaming in.
There was still some time left before the opening ceremony, so Danny and I slipped away and entered the big new museum from the exit end.
Walking against the stream of people, single and in groups, we managed to work our way through each of the stations, commenting here and there on what we saw, or how it was presented. The museum is enormous, arranged in such a way, that one can’t skip anything. Half way through is some reconstruction carpentry work, done by my other son.
The fascination for me was to start with the look over the skyline of the Hills of Judea, move back in time to the impressive Hall of Names, looking up towards the sky into a sea of faces of people long gone.
The rescuers, partisans and back into camp after camp, Auschwitz at the center. Moving towards the beginning, how it all started, burning Synagogues, burning of the books the marching Nazis and then seeing the ordinary background and what it was like before, I could not help wandering how and why and for what reason it all come about.
The more often I contemplated on it, the further away I move from understanding it all. There is no rime and reason to it. But happen it did.
Coming back into daylight, we walked along the Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles looking for the tree of Trudie Wiessmiller, initiator of Kinder Transport I left Germany with, but did not find it.
Back we went to the opening ceremony, were there were still speeches in progress and finally the doors opened to let us into the Exhibition Hall. It is all neatly categorized, is all about women, who they were, how they acted, a will that was left behind, a painting, a story.
My mother’s story is in my heart. She was 41 years old when the Nazi regime came to power and eleven years later 1944 perished in Auschwitz, aged 52, unbend and still at the prime of her life.
Having premonitions as to what was in store for her family, she sent all of her three children and her own mother away, even before the war started, so that we should live. She left no stone unturned trying to find a place for her beloved husband and herself in any country of the world, but to no avail.
While still in Berlin my father had to do forced labor, working in road construction in soaring summer heat and in freezing cold winter days, my mother working in a Jewish old age home. She used to get up in the very early hours of the morning to pack a bit of lunch for her beloved husband until in October 1942 they were sent to Theresienstadt where my father died in 1943 and my mother was left all on her own until she was sent in May 1944 to Auschwitz.
How did my mother manage to stand up to all that for eleven long years? I will never know. I miss her and admire her. I can’t stop thinking of her. There certainly is a story to tell. Will I have the strength to put it all together? Only time will tell.

Jerusalem Pesach 2007

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