Jelly, jelly so fine

Monday, February 13, 2023

The Lost Ones

I was getting an echocardiogram the other day and the Eastern European nurse was telling me what a lovely country Poland was, how much I needed to visit it. And I told her that I could not and would not, that I still had too much sorrow and anger. She looked at me quite quizzically, and let the matter drop.

Truth be told, I have never visited Germany, Austria or Poland and may never. The wails of my family are still too loud in their graves. A wise friend once told me that I should not fight my father and grandfather's battles but I have a hard time resisting the inclination. My father's family came from Poland.

I was doing some family research the other day and came upon this distant relative of my father, Mary Miriam Sommer.

Mary was only 17 when she was exterminated at Maly Trostinec in Belarus. What a loving and beautiful smile.

I am not sure exactly how she died but most of the people killed there were simply taken out to the forest by the Nazi invaders and shot.

What a beautiful young girl! 

What a waste of a precious life!

What kind of barbarians, supposedly from a refined European culture, take the roads to a final solution that requires the murder of innocent seventeen year old girls? I would call them animals but animals do not act so cruelly and viciously.

Killed in the town near Minsk, Miriam was an outlier in our family. Most of them met their fate in the gas chambers and crematoria.

My grandmother Pesa had eleven brothers and sisters, only she and Malka escaped.

Most of the rest of the family were put on trains to Auschwitz, except for Ruchel, who was bombed in the forest and later died from head injuries and my great grandfather, who died of hunger in the blockaded Warsaw ghetto.

On the left above is my grandmother and her sister's memorial to our fallen family in the Wyszkow Yizkor Book.

Many of our family can be seen in this picture from before the war, including my grandmother, second row from the bottom, second person from the right.

My life hangs from a very narrow string. Why was my thin branch allowed to survive, when so many good people perished? I am so lucky that my grandparents and father were able to come to this country before the fire erupted.

One of the villagers wrote this sad poem about the Nazi invasion into our family's town, Wyszkow, a forest town located between the Vistula and Bug Rivers. My family owned the lumber mill.

The poem has been translated into english.

It is sobering to look at the Yad Vashem records and see itemized pages detailing when people were killed or put on the trains to their eventual deaths. The Nazis were so clinical and methodical in their execution. My family was wiped out.

It is really very sad and disturbing. And the Yizkor stories from my mother's side in Yednitz, Moldova are equally terrible and horrifying.
...the son of the barber, Yitzhak Vinokor, came to us. He was also with us amongst the “young ones.” He told us that everyone had been brought to the cemetery where they were told to dig two pits. Then they were put down on their knees beside the open pits. The soldiers fired at them with machine guns right into their faces. Some of those shot immediately fell into the open pits. Others remained laying badly wounded on the ground. Groans and the sounds of people expiring were heard. After a few hours the voices ceased. The soldiers thought they had finished their “job” and left the spot. Vinokor, though he was wounded, still felt capable to get up on his feet. He made his way out of the cemetery and arrived at our house, wounded and distraught.”
...at the head of these hooligan rapists, the sons of the local gypsies, “Katzapes” was the gypsy fiddler Ivanitza, who played the “Hatikvah” at the “bazetzn” of the bride at all Jewish weddings. He pointed out where to find Jewish women and girls so that the “shkotzim” could despoil together with them.
Antisemitism is again rising its head, both internationally and here at home. All genocides are indeed, equally terrible. But this one smacked of german efficiency and was wrought in the most horrible of ways. Eighty years have passed but the calamity is strangely still present. I for one, will never forget. Remember those that were lost!


Liz said...

Dad also refused to buy German cars. I have no desire to go to Germany, Poland or any of the other Eastern European countries. I once had an affair with a woman who looked almost exactly like me and was a Spanish Jew from Warsaw. We figure we we’re probably related. She came here in elementary school and never came back.

Mg speaks German, but knows I would be very upset if he went to Germany.

Grandpa Israel always said that his wife was a Spanish Jew from Warsaw. Gail and I figured our families immigrated in the 1400’s

Blue Heron said...

Dad bought several BMW's.

Jon Harwood said...

With the antisemitism rising as it is there is a real need to remind people of the level of horror we can sink to.

Ken Seals said...

It is very sad :-( Evil is still with us and always will be. Mankind has learned nothing through the wars and years.