How I Survived Auschwitz and the Holocaust

The smell that I seem to remember is just
a foul smell. It was putrid. I found out later it was the smell of burning
flesh. I seem to remember Nazis shouting at me in
German. I think that the story of the Holocaust sort
of mimics the story of all immigrants. You look at people fighting desperately to
find safety and to find places of freedom. It’s the same kind of a fight that my father
had to wage. Nazi troops have invaded Poland by land and
by air in undeclared war. This is a kiddish cup and it’s used to make
blessings. This cup is a symbol that my mother found
in her backyard. It’s a symbol that our faith couldn’t be stolen by the Nazis. My left arm has my tattoo and it reads upside
down B 1-1-4-8 and it won’t wash off. It was one of the last tattoos that the Nazis
imprinted into arms or wherever else they wanted to imprint. In July of 1944, my father was taken to
the Auschwitz death camp Why was he selected to be taken to the children’s
bunk instead of going straight to the gas chambers? That’s any question we can never answer. My mother would sneak in and share some of
her bread rations with me. And then things got bad. So she snuck me into the women’s bunk. My grandmother would hide me under straw while
the women went to work. My dad and his grandmother, old and the young, they would have died that death March, but they weren’t on it. And it’s because she smuggled him into the
infirmary. And we wouldn’t have never, never survived the bitter
cold conditions and lack of clothing and food in the death march. We managed to evade that and that saved
our life. After Auschwitz, first of all, they were homeless. They were penniless. My dad and his grandmother
Dora had to find somewhere else to live and grandma Dora found a farm on the outskirts
of town that had the chicken coop, an abandoned chicken coop and that’s where they lived. Our family, like many other Jewish families,
made makeshift vaults in the backyard and they had jewels and money and other precious
belongings. And when my mother came back after the liberation,
at night she snuck in, dug with her fingers until they bled and everything was stolen
except this kiddish cup. My father always said he was invisible when
he came to America. He was so different from them, didn’t speak the language. He had no money. He had no father. No one really talked to me or the teachers
didn’t acknowledge that I was in the Holocaust. I was lucky to have a mother who was optimistic
and she gave me hope. But like my best friend jumped out of a window. He had nothing to look forward to and kill
themselves. So I was very, very lucky to have some family. At one time I thought about removing it with
plastic surgery because there was anti-Semitism. Even in the United States, there is a lot
of discrimination. “You look sad there. Nobody ever smiled in
old pictures, right?” We were looking for my dad’s video and photographs
of liberation, and we did a Google search. And it took us to a Holocaust deniers’ website. And to see my father’s video and pictures from liberation captioned pretty healthy children for a quote death camp. That was a huge slap in the face. We need to talk about it and hopefully minimize bigotry not just against Jewish people, there’s a discrimination against Muslim people, discrimination against
African American people, Hispanics, LGBT minorities. The Holocaust did not begin with burning bodies and crematoria. The Holocaust began with jokes about Jewish
people. It began with graffiti on walls, subtle discrimination, the kinds of things we’re seeing around the world today. Do I think we should wake up and remember
the past so that we don’t go down that path again? Yeah. I mean, we’ve seen this movie before,
so let’s change the ending this time. The reality is if we don’t remember what happened
in the Holocaust, it can happen again, not necessarily the Jewish people to any minority group. This kiddush cup is probably the most prized
possession we have in our family. It doesn’t look like much. It’s small. It has a little couple of little dings in it. But this is such a symbol for us. This is a symbol that you can steal everything
from somebody, but you cannot steal their faith. We’re going to raise it as a symbol that the
Nazis did not win, and we can survive.

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