So I had coffee with a wonderful gentleman this week.
And he--like myself--is a child of Holocaust survivors.
Two quick stories he told me:
- His father, a survivor of the notorious concentrations camps that killed millions, had a number tattooed on his arm by the cursed Nazis. As the years past and his father worked to resume a normal life, what did he do with that number to try and help forget all the atrocities he went through? Get this...he used the number on his arm as the code for garage door opener. As he told his son, this way, I will never forget the code to open it.
- As a child, my new friend wanted to go to summer camp, he once asked his father, "Dad, when you were my age did you go to camp?" And his father replied, "Yes, I went to concentration camp!" Indeed, a very different sort of experience for a child. These days our children run, play, and swim in the beautiful outdoors at summer camp, but in our parents time, as Jews, they were hauled in cattle cars to suffer at the hands of the Nazis in slave labor, starvation, disease, beatings, torture, and in extermination camps behind razor-sharp barbed wire, attack dogs, and watch towers with machine guns.
How on Earth did these atrocities and genocide occur just 70 years ago--in the 20th century?
As much as I have learned, I am still dumbfounded by it: people (really more like vicious animals or Zombie devils) brutalizing other people, human beings--men, women, children, old people, the sick and disabled--and exterminating millions in the most horrific and brutal ways.
Now, the victims, their children, and grandchildren are left to go on and rebuild, where a tattooed number by the Nazis in the infamous concentration camps becomes a reminder for the everyday garage door opener in what we try to make of a normal life once again. ;-)
(Source Photo: here with attribution to HolocaustSurvivors.org)