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View Diary: The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking (125 comments)

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  •  My mother-in-law was in three camps, (45+ / 0-)

    all of which were labor camps, only one of which I'd ever heard of.  All of them were in Poland.

    She remains traumatized all these years later.

    Frankly, I'm not surprised about these revelations, although the numbers are mind-boggling.

    Remember. Bring them home. ● And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here … and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once -- Michelle Obama.

    by edsbrooklyn on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 01:07:40 PM PST

    •  My closest friend from college is the daughter (35+ / 0-)

      of a Holocaust survivor.  He self-published a memoir in which he detailed the many labor camps through which he worked.  If I recall correctly, he was Polish.  All the relatives in his immediate family ended up dying in the course of the war, some right away, and some through labor and maltreatment in a series of camps.  

      Separated out at the beginning of their capture, he recounts how on one occasion he crossed paths on a prisoner march with one of his brothers, or maybe it was his brother and his father, who were in a different line of prisoners being marched to a different labor camp.  He recounts another harrowing march through deep snow when the prisoners only had their uniforms, and they fell in the snow and were left there by the Nazis along the way, to freeze to death. His story was one of four years of a few months laboring here, then a march; then a few months laboring there, then another march; etc.  All the while he was dying slowly of malnutrition.  

      He survived because at one of the camps where he was working, he crawled to a barn where the Nazis would let the exhausted prisoners die rather than shooting them; he lay down among dozens of other men expiring, and cadavers that had not been taken away.  And after laying there for a day or so, the Russians liberated the camp, and provided him with food and recovery.  Then they forced him to serve as a soldier fighting the Germans.

      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

      by concernedamerican on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 02:11:51 PM PST

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      •  She has never talked about it much. (24+ / 0-)

        The war started when she was very young, and her mother was in a group taken from their homes and forced to dig their own graves. After they were done, they were shot. Shortly after that, she and her sister were taken away.  Amazingly, they were able to stay together throughout the war.

        I often wonder what she and her sister would be like had they had the luxury of the childhoods and adolescences their parents had planned for them.

        The resilience of humans astounds me.

        Remember. Bring them home. ● And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here … and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once -- Michelle Obama.

        by edsbrooklyn on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 04:23:12 PM PST

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        •  It is truly amazing that they were able to stay (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          edsbrooklyn, SadieSue

          together through the war.  My friend's father at one point was in a ghetto with his mother, but it didn't last long.  

          That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

          by concernedamerican on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 05:06:04 AM PST

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          •  The one survivor I've knowingly met (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ColoTim, SadieSue

            managed to stay with a sister through the entire ordeal.

            And then they both got the same camp-induced health condition in later life. There are readily apparent physical symptoms. The sister died from relatively commob complications of it.

            It's really really creepy to be standing talking to a 'suvivor' and be reminded every time you look at her that 1) she's reminded of how the only person she had left for so long (there were a few others in the family who made it, but the death rate of her first-cousins and closer relatives was over 80%) passed away every time she glances in a mirror and 2) Hitler's probably still killing her and quite possibly the only way he won't even though he's been dead for half a century and more is if something else kills her first.

            I wonder sometimes about how high the Shoah death toll would go if people like her sister were included in the statistics. She counts as a survivor in official statistics... but it's really only on a technicality of timing.

            Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

            by Cassandra Waites on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 09:15:15 AM PST

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            •  She sees herself as a survivor (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassandra Waites, SadieSue

              and sees her children and grandchildren (among other things) as proof that Hitler lost.

              I see your point, and I know she would be a different person without her wartime experiences -- but she would disagree with you. She's 85, and my father-in-law is 90 and a survivor as well.  They see themselves as surviving the war, not as being killed by it or its circumstances, no matter how many family members they lost.

              Remember. Bring them home. ● And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here … and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once -- Michelle Obama.

              by edsbrooklyn on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 10:55:14 AM PST

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              •  I know. It's just that, it feels like there ought (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                edsbrooklyn, SadieSue

                to be some way of marking in discussions or statistics of how many people were affected by what happened that some people did survive through the end of the war - but then passed away because of things that never would have happened if they hadn't lived through all that. Wanting there to be a recognition that the remaining living misery after Hitler died wasn't just in PTSD and mourning the missing and physical recovery, but also in medical effects that didn't show up until decades later for some people, and that for some people that did and may still mean dying knowing that something done to them decades earlier was what was killing them.

                It's a complicated emotional thing for me. I don't like it on a very visceral level when people who are harmed get cut out of 'and this is what the bad people did' statistics because of technicalities like not having the right kind of documentation or having things not show up until out of an expected timeframe afterwards.

                Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

                by Cassandra Waites on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 11:24:05 AM PST

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                •  Agreed. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Cassandra Waites

                  Something to indicate how many were affected, and in what ways.

                  Remember. Bring them home. ● And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here … and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once -- Michelle Obama.

                  by edsbrooklyn on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 12:36:08 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  One of my father's cousins was in a camp and had (0+ / 0-)

                  numbers tattooed on his arm.  He also must have lost an eye in that camp because he had a prosthetic eyeball that didn't fit him very well.  But I think you are right about how Hitler's evil impacted his whole life, even though he was a survivor.  He didn't marry, and was affected mentally and emotionally by it.  He had a really hard life.  One of the most amazing things that everyone in the family got to witness, was when he danced at my brother's Bar Mitzvah (back in 1976).  No one knew that cousin Steve had that in him.  Dancing and joy were definitely not something that his life after the camps had a lot of.  

                  That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

                  by concernedamerican on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 12:42:39 PM PDT

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    •  my dad too (4+ / 0-)

      he never much talked about it though.

      Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

      by Mindful Nature on Sun Mar 03, 2013 at 11:47:03 PM PST

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