Thanksgiving and a Holocaust Survivor

It’s the end of the Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S.  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend filled with good times with family, friends, and good food.  We had out of town family visit us.  Here’s a picture of our family dinner:



The day after Thanksgiving, instead of going to Black Friday Sales, which I tend to avoid every year anyway, we went to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.  If you want to be thankful about your life and what you have, please go to the Museum of Tolerance and visit the Holocaust Exhibit.  It’s amazing.

I wanted to take pictures, but we weren’t allowed to.  We were told we would pay a fine if we were caught taking pictures, so we didn’t take any.  Although, I did see other people sneaking pictures on their camera phones.

The best part of the exhibit was when you enter, you’re given a card with a picture of a child that lived during the Holocaust.  Throughout the exhibit, there are computers where you can put your card in, and it will tell you a little about that child’s life.  At the end of the exhibit, you get a whole printout of the child’s life and whether or not they survived the Holocaust.  Out of the six people in our group, four children made it through the Holocaust and two died.  My child lived and is still alive today.  One of us got a child that is still alive and actually volunteers at the museum.

The best part of the museum was that they had guest speakers that day.  With time being a concern because the museum was closing soon, we had to choose between the floor of the museum that talked about Tolerance or go listen to a guest speaker that had survived the Holocaust.  Three of us had already seen the floor of the museum that talked about Tolerance (I recommend it if you have time), and all of us wanted to listen to the speaker, so that’s where we headed next. 

The speaker was amazing.  He had such an optimistic outlook on life even though he’d been through some harrowing times.  He’s spent time in a ghetto, in hiding, and in labor camps (including Auschwitz or Buna-Monowitz, the labor camp).  At one point he was on a truck that was taking people to Auschwitz-Birkenau (death camp) and Auschwitz – Monowitz (labor camp).  Without realizing it, he was in the group to go to the death camp, but something told him to sneak out of that group and go with the other.  So he did, which saved his life.  He was about 18 or 19 when the U.S. Army liberated him. 

After liberation, he spent time in Germany, then went back to Poland (where he was from), and then went back to Germany before he went to the United States.  From his family, two of his three sisters, and one of his two brothers survived.  He lost his parents, one sister, and one brother.  His remaining family all eventually immigrated to the United States.

In the States, he worked as a watch repair man and eventually as a jeweler. 

He applied to become a U.S. Citizen, which made him eligible for the draft.  Apparently, being a Holocaust survivor didn’t exempt him from the draft.  He was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War.  At one point he was stationed in Occupied Germany, which he found ironic as a few years before he was imprisoned in a labor camp there and now he was a part of the operation to occupy the country. 

As I stated earlier, he had such a positive outlook on life even after everything he had gone through.  Someone in the audience asked him about this, and he said that life was what you made of it.  There was no point in being bitter because that made you unhappy and it didn’t help your situation.

At the end, he shook everyone’s hand.  As my aunt said, it’s not everyday you get to shake the hand of Holocaust survivor.  And that opportunity is getting less and less as that generation gets older and older.

He says that he does these talks so that people know the story of the Holocaust and that people know that it really happened, because he was there.

So I thank him for sharing his story.

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  1. #1 by OpinionsToGo on November 24, 2012 - 5:09 pm

    A lovely post and a lovely family. Your visit to the Museum of Tolerance was certainly timely and inspirational.

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