The Holocaust had a profound and lasting effect on the culture of the Jews and the psyche of individual victims which altered many aspects of life after liberation. Seven years of worldwide conflict generated so many atrocities that often, the story of the individual is lost. The survivors were able to share their experiences, and we have been able to piece together the events of the most culturally significant human rights violation of the the twentieth century.
Journal of a Survivor
I am shaken out of my recollection when someone bumps into me with a mumbled apology. I realize that I am standing in the middle of the sidewalk. Will these memories never leave me? A simple walk to get my morning coffee can stir up so many details. I try to convince myself that I have moved on as I continue my stroll.
A few blocks more, and the staccato burst of a jackhammer slices through the early morning bustle of the city. Unbidden, the noise stirs up a dark recollection of far less pleasant days after my time in the ghetto, when such a sound signaled an execution instead. I am taken back to the moment when my family and I were herded like cattle and boarded a train--given a one-way ticket to a living death…
I hear the charming ding of a bell, and I look up to see the cafe in front of me. I must have completed the journey in a stunned kind of shamble. As I wait to order my usual cappuccino and raspberry scone, I wonder if I should start seeing my therapist again. The flashbacks seem to be getting more and more frequent.
A few hours later, I arrive at the doctor’s office for a check up. I sit in the waiting room, but suddenly I am no longer waiting for my kind doctor with smiling eyes, but instead for a doctor with a much colder heart--the same title but a much different profession. I am a little girl again, being ushered into a small room where a young man in a white coat is examining me. He shakes his head, and I am escorted out of the building. I know what I see in the rooms I pass will haunt me forever…
I went to the park with Adina and Eliana for the easter egg hunt in the park today. Eliana lined up with the other four and five year old and waited for the countdown to go find some eggs to put in her basket. I don't care if I am a biased grandmother or not, she was definitely the cutest little girl in the line of children. She had insisted on wearing her new pink easter dress I bought her. Adina pulled her hair back with a matching headband and her dark hair curled around her little, round face. Eliana held on tight to her little basket and I could see that her brown eyes were frantically searching across the big grassy field looking for easter eggs. She told me just before the race was was going to get "more dan evybody!". A man walked to the children and counted to three and said go. Half of the kids grabbed their baskets and hurried towards the colorful eggs but Eliana and some of the other children just stood there in surprise watching everyone gathering eggs, but unsure as to what she should do themselves. Suddenly the little girl next to Eliana grabbed her hand, giggled and said, "Let's go!". A smile came across Eliana's face and she rushed to catch up with the other children and got quite a few eggs. She's definitely quite the easter egg hunter.
It's strange… seeing Eliana standing there unsure of her next move makes me think of the day I found out World War II was over… when Soviets first told me I was free and the Germans were defeated, I was ecstatic, but so overwhelmed I, too, had no idea what I was supposed to do next… I'm sure I felt just like little Elaine did right then...