Posted by: Leah | June 16, 2008

The most profound lesson on Holocaust I have ever had.

My acute interest to Holocaust and numerous attempts to understand this tragedy brought me to Dachau, in Germany, a very quiet village, which is so nice, green and peaceful that is hard to contemplate that some 60 years ago it was the place of death of thousands Jews. I participated in a youth forum in Dachau in 2002. There were 100 young people from all over the world, including Germany and 10 or so Holocaust survivors. Most of them were the same – secular, residing in Israel and talking about the Shoa with a painful struggle and giving us a feeling that it happened just yesterday. Most of them except for Mr. Feldman. He was visibly different – wearing a black kippa and tzizit, always friendly, talking about his experiences as about something painful but distant and living in Germany. The idea of a Holocaust survivor living in Germany was something I had tried to visualize and relate to but had not been able to do so. Not until I actually talked with Mr. Feldman.

It was a very hot day. We had some time off workshops, and I decided to get to an actual Concentration camp site, which was a 20-30 minute walk from where we were staying. I was on my way when I noticed Mr. Feldman, who was apparently going to the same place. “Guten Tag!” I said in my broken German, and continued in English,” Sorry, Mr. Feldman, I can’t do much German, but I would like to ask you a question. Can I?”

“Sure,” he said in his impeccable English.

“Don’t get me wrong, but how is it possible that a Jew lives in Germany? Don’t you feel anything? Don’t you think about was happened?”

He stopped and looked at me, and then he said very slowly, but I remember these words as though I heard them yesterday, “The only lesson I have learned from my past is the following: Don’t let the bastards get you down. My family had been stupid enough to think they had been Germans. The Nazis indicated strongly they were not. So, I am back to our tradition: davening, studying the Torah and teaching people about the Holocaust. If I leave, it will mean I am trying to escape. It means Hitler won. Not me. Sure, I do remember everything, but my memory does not drag me behind, it keeps me going. I will never forget this as well as I will never forget what Amalek did, but my life continues”.

We have walked the rest of the way in silence. There was not much to say.

 

 

What a profound lesson I had that day! I wish everyone had Mr. Feldman on their Jewish way one day, because if we all will just keep going despite all the obstacles and inevitable tragedies, what a wonderful life will be waiting for us, full of achievements and pride for our deeds.

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