miércoles, 31 de mayo de 2017

Holocaust survivor saved by Schindler's List speaks in Dracut (VIDEO)

Rena Farber, who was a child in Krakow, Poland,
when the Nazis took over, speaks at Harmony Hall in Dracut.
She was one of the Jews saved from the Holocaust by Oskar Schindler.

DRACUT--Rena Farber's voice is frail now as she nears the age of 90. Her message, however, is so gripping that she captivated an audience of middle schoolers and their parents as she recalled how she survived Nazi death camps. 
"Time is running out for the survivors and the liberators," she said. "We are the eyewitnesses. We witnessed things you couldn't really imagine." 
The inevitability that her generation will soon be gone motivates Farber to pass her memories on. "The Holocaust cannot be forgotten. It is time to pass the torch of memory to younger people -- to grandchildren and great grandchildren so that they become eyewitnesses." 
The normal shuffling of preteens quickly subsided and the room became quiet as she told her story. She pulled adults and children alike into the hell of the Holocaust. 
Rena Farber was 10 when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. As her family was forced into a ghetto, her father tried to reassure her not to worry. "The world will hear about us. They will come and save us." But the world did not intervene to save the Jews of Europe. 
The Nazis took her father away and she never saw him again. As she and her mother were leaving their apartment in Krakow, she tried knocking on neighbors' doors. "But no one had the courage to say goodbye." 
Of those neighbors, she said, "They were ordinary people, like the people you come across every day.
How could you imagine they would believe that screeching hate? How could you believe they would listen and follow (Hitler)? 
Farber survived the death camps "because I was on Schindler's List." Her mother also was on Oskar Schindler's list. Retelling her story of survival is Farber's way of thanking the man who saved them and 1200 other Jews from certain death in Nazi gas chambers. 
The story of Schindler's List was famously documented in Steven Spielberg's 1993 film by the same title. Schindler, who joined German Intelligence in the 1930s, used his connections and bribery to protect the Jewish workers in his enamelware and munitions factory. He spent his entire fortune on this effort, but at the end of his life said, "I should have done more." 
Farber's journey to Schindler's factory involved a transfer to Auschwitz from another camp. "We were leaving hell and going to Oskar Schindler," she said. She did not know, however, that Auschwitz would be the first stop. 
Auschwitz "was unthinkable then. It is unthinkable now. It was built for the pure purpose of murdering people." 
One experience at Auschwitz left her "so traumatized and dehumanized that I thought we were dead. I really didn't think we were alive." 
Farber targets her message to young people, such as those in Rebecca Duda's class at the Richardson Middle School. Her presentation this week marked the fifth year she has told her story to a Dracut audience. 
"Unfortunately, my message is very timely. People have to be upstanders not bystanders. We need to fight against hate," she said. 
Children have a lot of power in shaping that fight, and she wants them to know that. "They are very powerful. They have the power to change the world by speaking up." They can begin by standing up to bullies. "Bullies are cowards. If you see bullying, go and get help. Tell a teacher or a parent." 
"The world is in a lot of trouble now. It is very difficult to watch what is happening." The world's problems make it critical for young people to understand the power they have to change things. 
Standing up to bullies takes courage, Finder said, which is just what the world needs. "Schindler is a shining example that one person can make a difference," she said.

Video: Holocaust Survivor, Rena Finder, speaks in Dracut

Source:  http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_31021725/bearing-witness-horror-and-heroism#ixzz4ihCbC69H

Learn more about Nazism and Holocaust by reading: 

"The Nazis and Evil: the Annihilation of the Human Being" 

lunes, 22 de mayo de 2017

The Two Birthdays Of Denver Holocaust Survivor Jack Adler

Jack Adler of Denver has two birthdays. The first is when he was born and the second, he says, is the day United States troops liberated him and thousands of other Jewish people during what's known as the Dachau Death March on May 1, 1945.
Adler grew up in Pabianice, Poland. The Nazis came to his hometown when he was about 10. While he has vivid memories about the Nazi tanks and vehicles rolling into town, Adler says he could not, at that age, comprehend what was about to befall on his family.
"My parents had a better inclination of what could happen," Adler says. "However, they wouldn't share it with the kids so as not to instill fear. I can understand that now being a parent and a grandparent."
In 1940, Adler and his family were forced into a ghetto in Pabianice. They lived in tight quarters and were fed very little food.
"It was difficult to comprehend, as a young child, why [being] Jewish put me in such a situation as the ghetto," Adler says about being singled out for his faith. 
After two years in the Pabianice ghetto, where his brother and mother died, the remaining members of Adler's family went to the Lodz Ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland. When Nazi forces liquidated it in 1944, Adler, along with his father and his two sisters, boarded a train to Auschwitz-Birkenau. That would be the last time he saw his sisters. 
From Auschwitz, Adler was sent to Kaufering in Bavaria, a subcamp of the Dachau concentration camp, before ending up at Dachau itself.  He was the sole member of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust and came to the United States as a war orphan in 1946.
He first returned to Poland in 2011, when we were invited by the International March of the Living, an annual event that invites people from all around the globe to learn about the Holocaust. Adler devotes much of his time to educating others about the Holocaust, including speaking at schools and military bases and is a speaker for the Mizel Museum's "Eyewitness to History" educational programming. His experiences are also documented in his 2012 memoir titled "Y: A Holocaust Narrative" and the 2015 documentary "Surviving Skokie," which was produced by his son, Eli Adler.
Adler says his relationship with Judaism has become more cultural than religious.
"I'm very proud of my Jewish heritage," Adler says. "However, I'm not what you would consider very religious. What I believe is that God created man and man created evil. We are responsible for how we treat or mistreat each other." 
Adler, who is 88, spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. Highlights from the conversation are below.
On being greeted by Jewish prisoners when he arrived at Auschwitz:
"Their job was primarily to take away whatever meager belongings one brought along with them. They whispered to us, 'When you march -- meaning for the selection process -- look strong if you want to live. You just arrived at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination and selection camp.' That's how we found out where we had arrived."
On how he kept going despite "hopeless situations":
"The barbed wire [fences] surrounding Auschwitz-Birkenau had electricity. So when people found out what happened to their loved ones who went to the left and were killed in the gas chambers they [killed themselves]. You would find bodies hanging from those barbed wires daily. Of people who gave up hope, very few survived. Even though you found yourself in a hopeless and helpless situation, one thing the Nazis couldn't take away from you was what was in your mind. What kept me going, even after I was separated from my father and was sent to the Dachau camp, I said to myself, 'You have to go on and be strong if you want to see your loved ones again.' You had to have something positive in your mind to keep you going. Of course, I didn't know at the time they all perished in the Holocaust."
On the march from Dachau concentration camp:
"We marched during daylight hours and at night we would sleep in the woods. But they would take prisoners to the other side of the woods. [The prisoners] were given shovels to dig a big ditch. When the ditch was completed, they were ordered to line up around the perimeter of the ditch and they were shot to death."
What he remembers about the day he was liberated:
"I heard the older people speaking loudly. The Nazis prohibited communication. So I crawled over to say, 'What's going on?' They said, 'They're gone ... The SS, the killers, are gone.' And within a few minutes, tanks and trucks arrived and when they saw us and stopped -- we didn't know who they were. I had never seen an American military vehicle. One of the officers got on the hood of a jeep with a bullhorn. He said, 'This is the United States Army. You are all free.' I wouldn't have made it one more day ... When I was checked into [a hospital], I was told I weighed 65 pounds."
When a CPR News staffer greeted Adler in the lobby with "Hi Jack," Adler responded, "Don't say 'hi-jack' at the airport." Adler says humor has been his greatest coping mechanism:
"Every [SS] guard has a name ... We had ugly names for them as they marched us to and from work on a daily basis and watched us doing work. I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but I think humor helps every day. If you want to call it a medicine, call it as such, because it's very important, for every human being, to have a little sense of humor. It helps to overcome daily obstacles." 
Source: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/denver-holocaust-survivor-jack-adler

Learn more about Nazism and Holocaust by reading: 

"The Nazis and Evil: the Annihilation of the Human Being" 

Jacques Fein, a Holocaust survivor, dies

Jacques Fein, who eluded transport to a Nazi concentration camp after he and his younger sister were hidden by a sympathetic French family during World War II, died of complications from a stroke May 11 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Columbia.
The former longtime Columbia resident who was living in Elkridge was 78.
The son of Szmul Karpik, a tailor, and Rojza Karpik, a homemaker, Jacques Fein was born in Paris, where his parents, Polish Jews, had immigrated in the 1930s in hopes of avoiding Nazi persecution.
"After the German invasion and surrender of France in 1940, the Karpiks' lives changed drastically," according to a profile of Mr. Fein on the website of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Terrified of what might happen to their two children, they turned to the Oeuvres de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) — or the Society for the Rescue of Children.
In 1941, at age 3, he and his 18-month-old sister were placed with Marcel and Suzanne Bocahut, a Catholic family living at Vers-Galant, about 20 miles north of Paris.
"Shortly after Jacques and Annette went into hiding, the government began to deport Jews to transit camps and later to concentration camps. Jacques later learned that his father had been deported to Pithiviers [a French transit camp], then to Auschwitz, where he was murdered in 1942," according to the Holocaust Museum.
For the first year, their mother visited them in secret until she was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Drancy, an internment camp in the Paris suburbs. Eventually, she was sent to Auschwitz, where she perished along with several other family members.
The Bocahut family, who had four children of their own, took in several other Jewish children in addition to the Karpiks. According to the Holocaust Museum account, "Jacques was baptized to avert suspicion that he might be Jewish."
At the end of World War II, the Karpik children were once again placed with the Oeuvres de Secours aux Enfants at Les Roches, and later at Taverny outside of Paris, where the postwar mission was to reunite displaced children with their families.
"He remembered this as a happy time, free from the threat of Nazi soldiers," wrote his daughter, Rachel Burrows of Ellicott City, in a biographical sketch of her father.
According to the Holocaust Museum, the children remained hopeful they would see their parents again — but they never came back. In 1947, the children were visited by Harry and Rose Fein of New Jersey, who had connections to the Oeuvres de Secours aux Enfants.
The couple, who could not have children, adopted the brother and sister in 1948.
"Jacques arrived at Ellis Island when he was 10, not knowing any English, but quickly acclimated to his new home, family, and country," Ms. Burrows wrote.
They settled in Union, N.J., where they were "raised as regular American kids," Ms. Burrows wrote.
Mr. Fein often spoke of having had multiple families, his daughter said: his birth parents, the Bocahut family, the Oeuvres de Secours aux Enfants and finally the Fein family. 
Mr. Fein was a graduate of Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and took graduate studies in computer science at the Johns Hopkins University.
He joined Computer Science Corp. in the early 1970s and worked on projects including those related to the space program. He retired in 2014.
His daughter said that because of the experiences of his childhood, he dedicated his life to "repay the kindness of all the people who saved him and his sister during and after the war."
He was the past president of the Jewish Federation of Howard County and was founder of the World Federation of Jewish Holocaust Child Survivors and a founder of Washington/Baltimore Survivors of the Holocaust — Last Generation.
Mr. Fein was also was co-president and treasurer of OSE-USA and a weekly volunteer at the Holocaust Museum; he gave presentations on the Holocaust to students and other groups. He also was a participant in the Shoah Project, established by filmmaker Steven Spielberg to chronicle and preserve the experiences of those who survived the Holocaust.
Mr. Fein was named Howard County Volunteer of the Year in 2011.
Funeral services were held May 14 at Oakland Mills Interfaith Center in Columbia.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 31 years, the former Judee Iliff; a son, Matthew Fein of Columbia; a stepdaughter, Laura Alima of Hampden; his sister, Annette Fein of Israel; and five grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.
Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/obituaries/bs-md-ob-jacques-fein-20170519-story.html

Learn more about Nazism and Holocaust by reading: 

"The Nazis and Evil: the Annihilation of the Human Being" 

lunes, 1 de mayo de 2017

Holocaust survivor’s daughter recounts long-lost letters at Stoughton ceremony

Throughout her lifetime, Gila Kriegel had looked upon a short letter – really a postcard – that her father had written as his lone written words during those horrendous years of the Holocaust. Yechiel Wiener wrote the few sentences to his brother in then-Palestine after he was liberated from Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, which he survived after enduring a death march from a satellite labor camp of the Flossenberg concentration camp in Germany in the closing phase of World War II.
The 180-word letter, dated July 11, 1945, spoke of his desire to reunite with his brother, but also his conclusion not to go back to his native Poland because no one would be left for him. It also talks of his hope for building a new life, and desire to go on.
A few sentiments, but that was all from the dizzying period immediately after the war.
Or so Kriegel thought.
A few short years ago, his cousins suddenly discovered a trove of letters from Kriegel’s father, written again to his brother. She and some volunteers have gone about translating the letters from poetic Biblical Hebrew into English. And the sentiments he expressed as a recent Holocaust survivor have been illuminating.
“One of the things that our translating group has found to be quite striking in these letters is the combination of sadness and hope, of a loss of faith and yet a faith in the future,” said Kriegel of Sharon, the featured speaker at the regional Yom HaShoah V’HaG’vurah (The Day of Remembering the Holocaust and the Bravery) ceremonies, held this year at Ahavath Torah, Stoughton April 23. “We have found ourselves amazed by my father’s incredible resilience in spite of and perhaps because of what he had endured.”
Both her late father and her mother, Sarah Wiener, survived the Holocaust. Her mother’s family survived because a family of Righteous Gentiles hid them in an underground bunker for 2 ½ years. Her mother still shares her own story and spoke to a day school in New Jersey earlier this week.
Her father was in the middle of his medical studies at the Jagellonian University when the war changed his life.
As an example, Kriegel read one of the more recently discovered letters dated Purim 1946 from her father, who survived several labor and concentration camps. He related how the holiday helped him survive the Shoah:
“That ancient story that is not forgotten and that encouraged me. It didn’t fail to encourage me even in those moments when the sharp sword was on my neck and the sharp hatchet blade was over my head. My cheek was being slapped and my body was being cut. (and this is not something I would recommend ) but I just remembered the fate of Haman and how his end was to fall. And those things happened. ”
He later writes of the happy memories of growing up, and then the change as the Nazis took over. He recalls of an uncle sentenced to death for baking Matzahs. And he talks about his own aspirations and inner conflicts:
“And I, what will be my end? Have I eliminated my path? Why have I started now to study? Is it possible that I made a mistake? No and No. I will always find the correct path. In spite of the religious education that I got, to my sorrow my faith in the survival of the soul is gone. (I am so completely lacking in that faith). My parents are no longer living. But they are living within us. Like then as now, I hear their voices. And they are for me guides in the solitary, destitute path that I have set out.”
Wiener, perhaps guided by his parents like he wrote, did continue on the path on which he originally intended and became a physician – as did his daughter years later.
“I believe there is much we can all learn from those who were able to pick themselves up after their lives were shattered and build a new life in a new country,” Kriegel said. “Of course there were those who were not able to do this but so many did. Both of my parents and so many of the survivors that I have met are incredible role models of grit and resilience to their families, friends and communities.”
The theme for the ceremony this year’s Yom HaShoah v’HaG’vurah program, which filled the synagogue with more than 400 people, was Righteous Gentiles. Seven students read about the courage and sacrifice of non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Prayers, songs and inspirational readings were performed by several rabbis and cantors, candles were lit by anyone who wanted to remember those lost, and the Temple Israel of Sharon-based singing group Shir Rhythm sang.
The observance was sponsored by Temple Beth Emunah in Brockton; Temple Beth Abraham and Temple Beth David of the South Shore of Canton; Temple Chayai Shalom of Easton; Temple Ahavath Torah of Stoughton; and Adath Sharon Sisterhood, Temple Israel and Temple Sinai of Sharon.
Yom HaShoah is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews and five million others who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period.
Source: http://canton.wickedlocal.com/news/20170426/holocaust-survivors-daughter-recounts-long-lost-letters-at-stoughton-ceremony
Learn more about Nazism and Holocaust by reading: 

"The Nazis and Evil: the Annihilation of the Human Being" 

5.00 out 5 Stars


lunes, 6 de marzo de 2017

90-year-old Holocaust survivor leads double life in Israel and Germany

Photograph of Karla Frenkel Raveh
taken in Lemgo, Germany shortly
after her liberation c. 1945 (Courtesy)

For the past 30 summers, Kiryat Tivon homemaker Karla Raveh has returned to her hometown of Lemgo, where she is an unlikely celebrity.

Karla Raveh is an 89-year-old 
Holocaust survivor leading a double life.

Much of each year, Raveh, who turns 90 this May, is an unassuming homemaker doting on her five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren in Kiryat Tivon, near Haifa in northern Israel. However, in the summers she relocates to Lemgo, Germany, where she is practically a celebrity, unable to go anywhere without being stopped by people on the street.

In Lemgo, Raveh’s birthplace, there is a school named for her. She lives in an apartment above a museum dedicated to her family’s history in her childhood home, a stately house in the center of town. Her schedule is full of speaking engagements and meetings with dignitaries and old and new acquaintances.
Yet, almost no one in Israel knows anything about this. Raveh has told few of her friends and neighbors about her life the last 30 summers in Lemgo, because she thinks they — especially other Holocaust survivors — wouldn’t understand.
Lilach Naishtat Bornstein (Hebrew), a post-doctoral fellow at the MOFET Institute who teaches at the Kibbutzim College of Education, heard about Raveh’s double life and wanted to understand. With Raveh’s permission, she followed her to Lemgo and made a 2012 short film about her together with filmmaker Hans-Peter Lübke, an Israeli-German production titled, “Between Home and Homeland.”
Intrigued by what is permitted — and not — in Israeli society when it comes to bearing witness to the Holocaust, Bornstein also mined Raveh’s story as research for her book, “Their Jew: Right and Wrong in Holocaust Testimonies,” published in 2016 by the Hebrew University’s Melton Center for Jewish Education and the MOFET Institute.
“There is a trend of survivors going back to their hometowns to give testimony, but Karla’s case is unique,” Bornstein said.
“A tremendous, phenomenal educational project has grown around her testimony. Dozens, if not hundreds, of cultural products have been produced based on her and her testimony in what seems like a strange German obsession,” she said.
Bornstein, 51, was particularly interested in trying to learn why Raveh’s testimony has been received with such interest in Germany, but not in Israel, including among her own family members.
“German Jews long for and adore their German culture, and Karla gave herself permission to compensate herself for her lost German youth. It’s been somewhat uncomfortable for her children to rediscover her intimacy with Germany, which they had associated only with Nazis,” Bornstein said.

A life-changing letter

Karla Frenkel Raveh at age 7 in 1934 (Courtesy)
Karla Frenkel Raveh at age 7 in 1934 (Courtesy)

For much of her life, Lemgo, a small university city an hour and a half’s drive southwest of Hanover, was no more than a memory for Raveh. It was the place where she was born and raised, and from where she and her family were deported by the Nazis to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in July 1942.
Only Raveh and one of her grandmothers survived the Holocaust. After the war, when she was 18, Raveh returned briefly to Lemgo to recuperate from illness and reclaim family property. After that, she left her birthplace — first for Switzerland, and later for Israel — with no intention of ever returning.
Lemgo would have remained locked away in Raveh’s past had it not been for a letter she received in the mid-1980s from a teacher there named Hanne Pohlmann asking her, as the only Jewish survivor from Lemgo, to share her Holocaust testimony with the city’s inhabitants — especially the children. Raveh reluctantly agreed, divulging details unknown even to her own two sons, Michael and Danny. Raveh’s husband Shmuel became the driving force behind the project, encouraging Raveh to write her family’s entire story in German, and serving as her typist.
Raveh submitted her testimony to Pohlmann, who arranged for it to be published as a book, whose first printing sold out quickly. Raveh was invited to Lemgo in the summer of 1986 for a book launch, which in turn launched her unexpectedly back into the life of Lemgo after 40 years. That initial trip turned into months-long annual visits and a true homecoming.
“I am at home here in Israel, and I am also at home there in Lemgo. It’s a hard thing to explain,” Raveh told The Times of Israel during an interview over lunch in her Kiryat Tivon kitchen.
Before her deportation, Raveh and her siblings were the only young Jews in Lemgo. Today she is the only Jew there at all. Warmly and genuinely welcomed back by the city’s residents, Raveh has become “their Jew,” an identity she ambivalently embraces.

From happiness to hell

Herta Rosenberg Frenkel, who was killed at Auschwitz in 1944 (Courtesy)
Herta Rosenberg Frenkel,
who was killed at
Auschwitz in 1944 (Courtesy)
Raveh was born Karla Frenkel in Lemgo on May 15, 1927 to Herta (née Rosenberg) and Walter Frenkel. She had an older sister, Helga, and two younger brothers, Ludwig and Uriel. Walter was a businessman, and the family lived in the inherited family home, which had been purchased and renovated by Walter’s entrepreneurial widowed grandmother in the late 19th century. Both the Frenkels and the Rosenbergs, who were from the Hamburg area, had been living in Germany for generations.
“I remember that my grandfather was a real yekke,” Raveh said, using the term for a Jew of German-speaking origin connoting an affinity for detail and punctuality.
When Karla and her siblings were growing up, Lemgo had a population of 13,500, of which only 60 were Jews. The Frenkels were the only young Jewish family in town, and Karla and her brothers and sister were well integrated socially among the other children. The older members of the family were similarly well accepted and civically involved, with Walter Frenkel and his father (who died when Karla was seven) serving as volunteer fire fighters, among other positions.
The family’s situation changed under Nazi rule, with the children no longer allowed to continue in their German school in 1938. Raveh and her sister boarded with a Jewish family in nearby Detmold, where there was a regional Jewish school, but that lasted only until 1941.
Helene and Theodor Rosenberg. Helene survived Theresienstadt and died two years after WWII in Switzerland. Theodor was killed near Hamburg, Germany on Kristallnacht in 1938. (Courtesy)
Helene and Theodor Rosenberg. Helene survived Theresienstadt and died two years after WWII in Switzerland. Theodor was killed near Hamburg, Germany on Kristallnacht in 1938. (Courtesy)
Raveh’s maternal grandmother, Helene Rosenberg, came to live with the Frenkels in Lemgo after her husband Theodor was killed by Nazis near Hamburg on Kristallnacht in November 1938.
Walter Frenkel’s brother, three sisters and their families were deported from Lemgo to the Warsaw Ghetto, where they died of hunger.
On July 28, 1942, Raveh and her family — her parents, siblings, and two grandmothers — were deported to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia.
Helga Frenkel, who was killed at Auschwitz in 1944 (Courtesy)
Helga Frenkel, who was killed at Auschwitz in 1944 (Courtesy)
“When we arrived in the camp, we had to walk from the train platform and they put the older people like my grandmother, my father’s mother, Laura Frenkel, on a cart with bags that the strong young men pulled. I remember going over to my grandmother and trying to help her, and she said, ‘The God of old no longer lives.’ She held on for another couple of months and then died,” Raveh said.
The family was imprisoned at Theresienstadt for two and a half years. Raveh and her sister Helga, both teenagers, did hard labor in the fields and lived in youth houses supervised by counselors from Czech Zionist organizations.
“That’s when I caught the Zionism and aliya bug. I told my parents I wanted to go to Palestine, and I remember they didn’t take me very seriously,” Raveh said.
Raveh’s family was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau ahead of her, so she tried very hard to be put on a transport to be reunited with them.
“I volunteered to be on a transport to Auschwitz. I honestly had no idea where I was going to. I went to personally speak to [Rabbi] Leo Baeck, who was the head of the Judenrat to ask him to help get me on the transport list,” Raveh said.
Walter Michael Frenkel, who was killed at Auschwitz in 1944 (Courtesy)
Walter Michael Frenkel, who was killed at Auschwitz in 1944 (Courtesy)
Raveh ended up in the last car on the last transport from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz in October 1944. Unprepared for the journey, she did not have any water, so when a young man next to her fell asleep, she stole his flask. It was filled with booze — but she drank it anyway.
Upon arrival at Auschwitz, the only thing that saved Raveh from being sent straight to the gas chamber was her natural chutzpah and likely intoxication. Rather than joining the main crowd of women, she wandered off down the platform to take in her surroundings. When a guard asked her where she thought she was going she gave an incoherent answer, and he shoved her into a smaller group to the side that ended up being sent to labor duty.
“I was in total shock when I got there. I didn’t know what had fallen on my head. I learned that my entire family had gone to the gas before I got there. My good friend told me that Mengele saw that my sister Helga had an abscess on her hip during a selection and sent her to the gas. She got the abscess from unsterile needles from medicine for typhoid in Theresienstadt. My father traded bread for the medicine and she got better, but she still had the abscess,” Raveh said.
Ludwig Frenkel, who was killed at Auschwitz in 1944 (Courtesy)
Ludwig Frenkel, who was killed at Auschwitz in 1944 (Courtesy)
Raveh remembered standing naked on her first night in Auschwitz and asking the Jewish women in charge what the factories were for, and the women just laughed.
“I didn’t care if I was sent to the gas. I had come to hell and I was only hanging on to life by my fingernails,” she said.
Later, on a transport from Auschwitz to Bergen-Belsen, a woman sitting next to Raveh committed suicide by slitting her wrists. Drenched in the woman’s blood, Raveh dragged the corpse to the conductor’s booth at the end of the cattle car.
“When the door to the booth opened and the air whooshed out, it was like drinking in a cup of water. I will never forget that,” Raveh said.
Raveh was moved from Bergen-Belsen to a munitions factory at Salzwedel, Germany. She was liberated from there by Allied forces on April 14, 1945. She was one month shy of her 18th birthday.

Return to Lemgo

Shmuel (Rubin) Raveh, photographed after liberation from Nazi concentration camps c. 1946 (Courtesy)
Shmuel (Rubin) Raveh, photographed after liberation from Nazi concentration camps c. 1946 (Courtesy)

Determined to reclaim her family’s property, Raveh returned to Lemgo, where she was hospitalized due to tuberculosis. There, she met her future husband, Polish survivor Shmuel Rubin (who later Hebraicized his name to Raveh).
Rubin had survived Mittelbau-Dora, a subcamp of Buchenwald where slave labor fabricated V-2 missiles and other experimental weapons in extremely dangerous underground conditions. He was shot while trying to escape a death march from the camp, and collapsed in the forest, where he was found by an African-American US soldier. Rubin was taken to the hospital in Lemgo, but refused to trust his rescuer until another American soldier spoke to him in Yiddish.
Raveh’s maternal grandmother, Helene Rosenberg, survived the war thanks to a special agreement by Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, Security Police Chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and other SS leaders to release 1,200 Theresienstadt prisoners in exchange for five million Swiss francs put up by Jewish organizations in an escrowed account in Switzerland. Rosenberg located Raveh through the Red Cross, and brought her to Switzerland, where she convalesced until she joined Rubin in Israel in late 1949. (Rubin died of cancer in December 1986, and did not live to see his wife’s return to Lemgo.)
“My grandmother refused to believe me when I told her what had happened to the rest of the family,” Raveh said.

An ambivalent relationship

Students and faculty at Karla Raveh Gesamtschule in Lemgo, Germany celebrate the 20th anniversary of the school's naming in 2016 (Courtesy)
Students and faculty at Karla Raveh Gesamtschule in Lemgo, Germany celebrate the 20th anniversary of the school’s naming in 2016 (Courtesy)

Raveh admitted to having a love-hate relationship with Lemgo.
Raveh said she refuses to give her testimony to groups of older adults because she can’t stop thinking that some of them may have been complicit with the Nazis, or even been Nazis themselves. Instead, she focuses her energy on educating the younger generations.
“The young Germans do take responsibility and are ashamed. The older generation doesn’t take responsibility and I won’t speak to them,” she said.
In contradiction, she mentioned how thrilled she is when old school friends and acquaintances recognize her and invite her for coffee to catch up.
“What can I say? To my regret, I still love my hometown. Not Germany, but my hometown,” she said.
Bornstein observed that despite how at home Raveh feels in Lemgo, she limits herself in terms of how she speaks with Germans. Bornstein believed this stemmed from the fact that Lemgo had adopted Raveh as “their Jew,” but not “their Israeli.”
“The only taboo in her conversation with Germans is talking about her being an Israeli. They want to keep her as a Jewish victim. They want to see her as a German Jew, and not as an Israeli,” Bornstein said.
Raveh intends to return to Lemgo this May for the 90th birthday party the city has planned for her, but she is quite certain it will be her last trip there. The journey has become too hard.
She continued to make the trip in her advanced years out of love for and duty to her murdered family. Entering through the same front door at Frenkel Haus she did every day as a child was emotionally difficult. But she felt she had to keep doing it.
“I’ve been showing ‘The God of old’ that my grandmother said was dead that I’m still here,” she said.
Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/90-year-old-holocaust-survivor-leads-double-life-in-israel-and-germany/
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