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A Survivor’s Memory, an Ill-Fated Peace Process

My cousin, a Holocaust survivor, passed recently. Remember him while the U.S. pressures Israel to negotiate with a Hitler admirer.

by
Abraham H. Miller

Bio

August 17, 2013 - 12:00 am
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My cousin John died this past weekend in London. He was a short, quiet, unassuming man, a research chemist by training. He never married and had no children. His British English had a tinge of an almost undetectable accent. To those poised to notice such things, he dismissed it as acquired during frequent business trips over many years to Norway, a bleeding of Norwegian into his university-trained English. In reality, his accent was from the residual Polish of his childhood, a childhood stolen from him, and one he worked hard to forget.

John was not his real name. He was born Isaac in Lodz about 1928. He remembered the Polish boycott of Jews in the 1930s, which received official government approval in 1937, and was known as the “cold pogrom.” Of course, it was anything but cold and incited real pogroms of terror, brutality, and death. His father was out of work and his family almost starved. Those were the good years.

Lodz fell to the Germans in 1939 without a fight. Poland had already been defeated. Lodz contained the second largest Jewish population in all of Europe. The Germans’ brutality, sadism, and savagery during the Lodz ghetto period are well-known and documented in over ten thousand pages of manuscripts written in four languages and indefatigably translated by thirteen translators. Two Jewish photographers took thousands of pictures of the ghetto; the Germans themselves inadvertently added to the collection, loving to document their sadism, some of it in color photography. The Germans had made color film commercially viable in 1936 and cherished using it.

For a long time, I knew little of John’s life in the ghetto or during the Holocaust. He spoke of the Holocaust as “the war” when he did speak of it. Bits and pieces came out here and there by accident. For sixteen years, I gently tried to speak to him directly of his experiences. He had no interest, and I did not pursue it. Information occasionally oozed out like puss and blood from a wound that would not heal but was well-bandaged. When he finally opened up, it was as if he had opened a vein and let the blood flow freely, and it was I who was psychologically unprepared for the event.

He and his twin brother, Michael, were eventually among the 130,000 shipped out from the Lodz ghetto to death camps. They were in their early teens and fit for labor. They survived the selection process. Their parents did not. For some unfathomable reason, they were not identified as twins and not selected for Josef Mengele’s medical experiments on live subjects. They were sent to carve tunnels out of mountains in Silesia, or he thought it was Silesia but was not quite sure, to hide German rockets from allied bombs. The work was torturous and unending, the food barely sustained life, but they survived.

As the Russians approached, the camp commandant wanted the laborers to go into the tunnels. The inmates knew the plan was to blow the tunnels and leave them to die. When the order came, the inmates screamed in one voice: “Nein.” He himself was shocked by his own resistance, but more so were the Germans. For the first time, he saw fear on the faces of his enslavers. Most of all, the camp commander’s shock at the resistance invigorated the slave laborers’ refusal to go into the tunnels and be buried alive. It was one of John’s strongest memories. It gave him a sense of power that he had not known. The Germans decided not to attempt to force the slave laborers into the tunnels, and moved them to Austria as the Red Army approached.

Many died during the brutal transport where inmates were treated worse than livestock, but John and his brother survived. They ended up at the notorious Mauthausen concentration camp, the bone crusher, as the Germans called it, where Nazi policies of working people to death were cruelly implemented. Figures from Mauthausen in late March of 1945 show a dramatic increase of teenagers, mostly slave laborers from other camps. John and Michael were among the 3,500 Jewish teenagers in the camp at the time of its liberation.

As John and Michael were being transported to Mauthausen, their cousin — my uncle Sid, a sergeant in the American Army — was preparing to cross the Rhine into Germany. Sid was a forward artillery observer, and one day in France he and a brother in arms had taken up a location in a barn and were calling in strikes on a German position. The strikes became increasingly accurate and devastating, and Sid had the presence of mind to realize that the Germans would soon figure out where their observation perch was. Sid told his fellow soldier that he had a bad feeling and that they should flee the barn. They got about 100 yards from the barn when it erupted from an artillery barrage. Sid and the other soldier got hit with pieces of wood, but were otherwise uninjured. Sid’s survival would have a dramatic impact on John and Michael’s story.

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All Comments   (13)
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We have guns. The Jews did not. As long as we have guns, we're more or less safe.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Anti-Jewish Violence In Poland, 1944–1946 refers to a series of violent incidents in Poland that immediately followed the end of World War II in Europe and influenced postwar history of Jews as well as Polish-Jewish relations. The exact number of Jewish victims is a subject of debate, but the range is estimated as 1,000[1] to 2,000[2](with 327 documented cases).[3] Jews constituted between 2% and 3% of the total number of victims of postwar violence in the country.
Study by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance showed that between 1944 and 1954 out of 450 people in director positions in the Ministry, 37.1%(or 167) were Jewish.[27] The underground anti-communist press held them responsible for the murder of Polish opponents of the new regime.[20] Historian Marek Jan Chodakiewicz estimates that in the first years after the war, the Jewish denunciations and direct involvement in the pro-Soviet wave of terror, resulted in the killing of approximately 3,500 to 6,500 non-Jewish Poles including members of the Home Army and National Armed Forces.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Jewish_viol...

Yet we read in the above-noted story: "What would have happened to the twins if Sid had not found them? Would they have been repatriated to Poland to die in one of the brutal pogroms launched after the war by Poles who did not want their Jews back?" What irony! Up to 6.5 as many Poles than Jews are killed during the same period and the pogroms mean more, and.... there is no counterbalance to the story. This is how Jewish propagandists pump soap suds into the world's eyes to further their anti-Polish agenda!
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can so see this happening in America, I'm not pro Hitler whatsoever! But he promised jobs,Food,and national pride.
He delivered them all!
If Americans don't think they could be deceived and this could happen again it's definitely going too! Has anyone noticed the anti -Semetism on the rise? Just read and know with the rising if Islam, Christian, Jews,Gays and Leftists are all in danger.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is a moving and valuable reminder of what life was like in the 1940s for millions of people. It is also a searing testimony to the dark tendencies in modern modernity. Unless we remember the 20th century meltdown and stand up to similar 21st century tendencies, this could and will happen to us.

Ten years ago, it would have been a tough sell to convince me that a sitting American president could blatantly ignore the law. It is even more unthinkable that the leadership of both major parties could defend massive NSA intrusions into our privacy.

I would add one codicil to Abraham Millers fine article. Indeed, we do owe it to John and Michael to honor their memory. They survived horror and lived honorable lives. We also owe it to ourselves to consider their example. The same rumblings of totalitarianism that robbed them of a normal existence are not only echoing off the slopes of distant hills but throughout the halls of government.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank you Mr. Miller for sharing that. Not being Jewish, I can only imagine in the theater of my mind the brutality and horro. I did have a few family members who helped liberate the Jews, but as one once told me before he died, "you had to be there to recognize the magnitude. It was beyond mere mortal's comprehension."

As I get older, I realize most supporters of the Nazi Socialist Party weren't butchers but blind fools being led by butchers, too shallow and deceived to recognize what they had swallowed was the mob.

What concerns me is that I am convinced that even in America, there are large segments of the population so hoodwinked, so deceived that we too could be on a similar path to our own destruction, one demographic pitted against another.

Ten years ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of making that statement. But after watching this lovefest from the Cult of Obama, a man clearly a thug with clearly the potential for tyranny, I do wonder, "Is America on the same path as Germany once found itself?"
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bless you for writing this, Abraham Miller.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thank God we have Progressives who want write these facts out of History - those who FORGET their past have NO Future & many of these progressives are in Media and Hollywood & of Jewish decent- makes NO Sense to me, like George Soros selling out his fellow Jews for profit in 1940's- no sense
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am not happy about them, either. Yes there are a 'disproportionate' number of Jewish progressives, but that's what irks a lot of non-Jews, apparently. We are disproportionate in every field, also in creating technology, cures, and works of literature. Don't have anything to add beyond that. Hollywood is not my cup of tea..
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Having too many members of my immediate family who were survivors from Auschwitz, or others who were exterminated in various camps, one doesn't have to resurrect the hell-fire of the Holocaust to understand that agreeing to one's national demise - 'peace by peace'...piece by piece - is not only irrational but pure evil.
And, if an Israeli patriot's viewpoint counts for anything, the following should put the 'peace/death' process in its rightful place - its grave! http://www.inquisitr.com/671508/the-inquisitr-interviews-adina-kutnicki-the-reality-of-life-for-an-israeli-patriot/

Little more needs to be added.

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
'peace/death' process

Sounds about right, with a self-proclaimed American aristocrat currently in charge of the process, a shallow thinker mainly looking to plant a feather (any feather at all) in his own phony aristocratic behind.

I hope Israel is wise enough to not be drawn into the current version of the peace/death process charade.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the 1920's and allied itself with the Third Reich. This current iteration may appear different but it speaks the same tyrannical and deadly language when you look behind the religious Potemkin Village.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
It makes one speechless to read how depraved and evil the Nazi's were, and how some have now forgotten or actively tried to sanitize this evil under the guise of "following orders". And now we see their progeny, under the guise of the Islam, resurrect this same evil masked as "faith". I'm simultaneously enraged and depressed. How can we allow this to happen twice?...and yet it's happening, with our so called President leading from behind. Like the camp commandants, he plays golf and fiddles while his minions put in motion the policy machinery that will inflict so much neglect, suffering, and yes, even death.

Thank you for writing this. Your Uncle John is in my prayers today. May he rest peace.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's so very difficult to know what to say when you read remembrances of a generation that suffered so greatly in the face of such incomprehensible evil, only to see that evil manifest itself again in the barbarity of the muslim "faith".

Even more difficult to reconcile is the role that our government is playing in supporting these evil regimes in the Middle East - it would seem as though our moral compass is missing entirely.

I loathe this president with the burning passion of a thousand suns; this is a man who has all of the potential for evil as any monster that has ever walked the planet. The difference right now is that he has not succeeded in the way of a Stalin or Mao or Hilter... Yet.

And he must never be allowed to either.

We live in a nation that must come to grips with the incongruity of having liberated so many millions from the clutches of tyranny and evil over the years only to have freely elected a tyrant of our own.

Who will liberate us?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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