Holocaust Survivors: How strong these people were, to have survived the murderous brutality of the Nazi regime in World War II. Pre-teens and teens then, today the wise of our generation, these survivors have a story to tell, a message not to be forgotten. And this has become the mission of a Jerusalem-based publishing house - to make sure that these stories are published and read by the people who did not experience the Holocaust.
"Lately, many survivors have realized the importance of telling their painful recollections, so others will have the opportunity to learn from these experiences. I feel that new and future generations should hear our testimonies so they may protect themselves and avoid future calamities, said Dr. Moshe Avital, the author of "And There Was Courage" and "Not To Forget, Impossible To Forgive."
"For many years, like many other Holocaust survivors, I avoided speaking about what happened to me and my family during the dark years of the Holocaust. Only by relating my story will people begin to understand the anguish and fear that permeated every moment of my daily life during that horrible time, watching family, friends, and acquaintances disappear or die while I remained helpless," said Dr. Avital who lives in New Rochelle, New York today.
The author of "The Angel Of Poetry," Brigitte Ringer Nenner, said that when she was thrown into the hell of the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in 1943, she knew that if she survived, she would write in poetry to tell of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Every person tells their story differently. The recollection of the events that happened almost 70 years ago are so similar, but the way they convey the recollection is so different.
Mrs. Nenner used poetic verse to record her experience.
Dr. Avital used a blend of family memories with historical account. Leah Shinnar used vignettes to describe her experience.
"My Childhood In The Holocaust," is one that begins with Judith Jaegermann's recollections from about six years old until she was sixteen, but ends with a note of fear that Jews, after the war, did not want to hear what happened to European Jewry. It is this kind of apathy, she believes, that could lead to another group rising in hate over the Jews again. But her commitment today is to speak to young people to remind them of the history so that another Holocaust will not happen.
So often, people think that the Jews were like sheep lead to the slaughter, that they did not resist or fight back, but in almost every testimony, this view is absolutely refuted and proven untrue.
According to Dr. Avital, "We were not sheep to the slaughter. The German people were the sheep, because they followed their dictator blindly. When the Jews went quietly to their deaths, without physical resistance, you could feel in their silence a moral resistance to the Germans. There was a resistance of dignity, something they had within them.
"Kiddush Hachayim, the sanctification of life, is a form of Kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of G-d, which is a kind of resistance, a refusal to be brutalized. When Jews put on Talit and Tefillin, and sang Ani Ma'amin, "I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah," on the way to their death, was this not resistance? They could sing of their belief because they deeply believed in humanity. They wrongly believed that the world would not know what was happening to them.
In 1944, a group of Jews in the Sonder Commando, Jews who were chosen by the Nazis to help them in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, rebelled and killed many Nazis.
This was the first time prisoners of the Sonder Commando in Auschwitz did that and finally a few of them escaped to tell the world of the killings. They also revolted in Treblinka. There were Jewish resistance movements in Belgium, Italy, Bulgaria, in the ghettos of Minsk, Vilna, Bialystok, and many others.
"The chief reason why so little is known of the Jewish valiant struggles is that writers and historians have relied primarily on German sources, said Dr. Avital. It is natural that the Nazis would deliberately hide the fact that there was a network of Jewish resistance. The death of 6,000,000 people is so overwhelming, so vast a tragedy that the resistance of so many is understandably overshadowed. Whether with arms or moral stamina, the ways of resistance were as varied as the ways of death. Jews were not willing accomplices to their own slaughter.
"There is indeed proof beyond any doubt that Jews resisted the overwhelming might of the German Army, to which a whole continent had capitulated. Weaponless, they stood up to the might of the German panzer divisions in many places, under conditions of starvation and deprivation, in which their own doom was almost a foregone conclusion."
In the book, "To Live And Fight Another Day" the author, Bracha Weisbarth, tells the story of the Jewish partisans. Her family survived the Holocaust in the forests of the Ukraine as partisan fighters. They lived in the forests, forging partnerships with the resistors of the Nazis. They blew up German trains, rescued Jews and did everything possible to inflect hit and run missions against the Nazis. She explains that her very compelling reason to write her story is that so little is known about the partisans, and that "we must not forget the courage of the partisans."
Amongst the readers of these stories, one of the most common reactions is how strong these people were and they question whether they could rise with such strength to survive an enemy like the Nazis.
Many more stories have been published by eyewitness survivors. Unfortunately, as they get older and pass on, many stories remain untold.
This is why Mazo Publishers makes every effort to bring the testimony of survivors into publication.
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