'How do keep the memory of the Holocaust alive after the survivors are no longer with us?'
| I have told my story and hope it will continue to be indelibly printed in the minds of the Youth. Haunted by my childhood memories, I was spared and now I share my recollections of despair.
The wind would howl and we’d freeze miserably in our skeletons. Every gust of wind snatched from us our last skerrick of hope and courage. It was apparent that it got windier every day. We began despising the once beloved Mother Nature whom we thought we knew so well. We had lived many years harmoniously with her, however now she had turned on us. Even when it wasn’t blowing, the air appeared determined to chill our bodies to the core. The sky filled with thick ominous clouds that reminded us of the grey cigarette smoke the men now relished to taste. A teenager wore a face weathered with maturity from the unspeakable things he’d seen. The children hid away in any sort of shelter they could find; however it was obvious their thoughts were amongst the blizzards. It occurred to me now in my senior years that the Nazis didn’t just slaughter six million Jews. They also crushed six million aspirations that can never be brought back and pursued. A magnitude of devastation that is truly immeasurable. A lamentation of what was and what never will be. Amidst the ruthless wind, the pigeons circled above carrying death in their claws. The similarities between them and the guards became increasingly apparent every day. The situation in the camp was grim. News of German prosperity at war became immensely discouraging for us. However, despite this, sitting amongst my colleagues, friends, neighbours and family there was an eerie sense of hope in the ghetto. The sort that suggested we may not all be breathing coffins. Yet in those brief moments of optimism a cloud of despair rained upon my heart. Will I ever know why this happened to us? Due to the taciturn nature of the atmosphere, I seldom spoke as there was no need. Most understood their fate, yet many struggled to accept it. Perhaps a testament to their bravery was that unique mindset.
The days passed tediously turning bravery into a façade of strength. The once strong men were beginning to grow fickle. It was then that time itself began to add to our misfortune. The most prominent question lingering in the minds of old and young was simple; what had we done to deserve this unjust fate? No one ever found that answer which poses an alternative question. Is the reason we never found out, the reason we should never forget? The pigeons along with the guards chipped away at our spirits. The chirps of these birds taunted us until one day when it all stopped. The wind died down and the sun came out for the first time in years. A few of us made it, but I had already too much as to ever see the gloriousness of summer again. Whether a gift or curse, I was spared to live with my tortured mind.
My recollection of these events have had profound implications on my life and although I may struggle to tell my story of heartache now. At least I’ll die with the peace of mind that this tragedy will never be forgotten. Something six million Jews did not have the privilege of knowing. Today I stand before a new generation, one that understands these mistakes made in history. One that has a moral obligation to pass these messages on. It is critical to safeguard these memories and remember as one would a six hundred and fourteenth commandment. I plead, for this generation to ensure the pigeons of Germany will never soar with the ruthless wind that almost swept us away.