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PostSilence of Holocaust Survivors: My Parents' Story (Istvan Simon, USA, 12/03/18 1:13 pm)
John Eipper asked me on December 1st, "How forthright was your father in talking about his experience in the camps? So many survivors of the Holocaust preferred silence."
My father never much talked about his experience in the camps either. I learned about it in bits and pieces, sometimes from him with a sentence here or there, sometimes from my mother. Never in a coherent narrative, never lasting longer than a minute, when anything was said.
The Holocaust was never a subject discussed in my family. My mother never talked about the murder of her parents either. That history I also learned by bits and pieces. My mother would light candles on Jewish Holidays for her murdered parents and would pray over them silently for their souls. Or perhaps she did this for her own soul. She never explained what she was doing, I just observed her behavior and rituals as a child.
My mother sometimes talked a bit more about how she survived without being arrested in Budapest with my brother and a sister of my father. My brother had been born in August 1943, so he was less than 2 years old when the war ended. My mother feared arrest, that someone in a bomb shelter would see that my brother was circumcised when she had to change his diapers, and report them. But fortunately what she feared never happened.
Budapest was being bombed regularly by both the Russians and the Western allies, so they spent much time huddled in bomb shelters during these raids. They could tell who was bombing them from the explosions. The Russians had little 50 kg bombs. The Western allies much larger ordinance. Food was scarce and rationed. My aunt would give up her own ration card so that my brother could be well fed and cared for.
On one occasion a horse had been killed on the street, perhaps by shrapnel in a raid. People were busily hacking its carcass to pieces to be eaten. My mother was wondering if that was safe, afraid that they might get sick if she did the same and ate this poor animal's flesh. Someone told her, you will get sick for sure if you do not eat. She was right.
Anti-Semites often deny the experiences of Jews during the Holocaust. They might say "we all suffered in the war," minimizing the crimes of their countrymen, as if what they went through were somehow comparable to being deported and murdered in concentration camps. Perhaps they do so to calm their own conscience for their having been silent while these unspeakable atrocities took place.
The hatred some harbor may be so deep that they deny even the truth of the witness accounts in books, and documentaries. They talk about "Holocaust industry," make absurdly ridiculous claims of "writing these books for profit," or about "the purpose of the witness accounts being to reinforce Jews' victimhood." These odious accusations are perhaps the worst that anti-Semites have to offer that exposes their incorrigible baseness, their deep enduring unjustifiable hatred.
In view of the facts of Jewish life, which I just described above, that the Holocaust is rarely even talked about in Jewish families, the ridiculousness of the claims of eternal victimhood of Jews is exposed in the stark reality of the slander that it is.
JE comments: Istvan, if I may pry further: how did you mother succeed in hiding for so long, especially since she was married to someone (your father) taken off to the camps? Did she "pass" as a Gentile?