Tuesday, October 17, 2006

There but for the Grace of God go I

My daughter handed me a Passport (identity card) of someone who lived through the Holocaust, when we entered the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Her name was Alexandra but she could have been me or you, or anyone. That is the spine-tingling, generation bonding, kinship of kind that brings the Holocaust to your soul. It seeps into your skin. Could I have been the mother in Sophie's Choice, or the child with the big eyes looking into your very heart with despair and hunger and disbelief. Was that tattered garment one I wore in another life? That man who would shoot me, or rape my mother or torture my brother; could he be that cruel to his family? Or were they robots blind, jaded and closed?

I started reading about the Holocaust when I was 11 or 12. Anne Frank spoke to me through her diary. I had to know why she died, and who betrayed her. I had to know how close she came to the end of the horror of almost making it back to the real world. Then I read other stories. Other people who hid in the forest like animals, and some who were part of the resistance.

I read about the Danes and how the King put on a Jewish Star and wore it when the Nazi's said the Jews had to wear them. I read about the Catholic families in France who hid the children. The trains and abbey's. The good people who were humane first and foremost. I saw movies and read about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and the parachuters - Hannah and the others.

But there was always the precise disciplined annhilation of a people. They were Jewish and I was Jewish. They were Polish and lithuanian and Russian and I was all of that. THey were human and I was Human. If my grandparents hadn't have left the old country when they did; if like in a child's dream they dropped my hand and I was left behind. How can anyone
man or woman; intellectually or emotionally not think this could have been them.

I wanted to be that brave to stand up to the Germans. I wanted to be that Spiritual and unselfish that I could have saved the downtrodden. But just as I say there but for the grace of god go I - would that be true of me and the SS and the Nazi's

there is always the philosophical - which team do you play for? This happened without any Rhyme nor Reason. Presented with the facts of the Holocaust Museum it is up to us to remember - and Hope if ever we are asked to make choices we can do them with Dignity and Grace and Honor for the Good of Humankind not its Evil.

Read SaraJ's Review: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


Blogger Sara J said...

The 5+ hours we spent at the Holocaust Memorial Museum were really intense. You are right that the museum makes you realize how any one of us could have been a victim, afraid to stand up, or a hero.

2:17 PM  

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