The paintings are featured in "Coming Home"": Shoes" by Rifka Siegel, "Shabbos Candles" & "Portrait of Portrait of Anna Glinberg", by Esther Zibell....both artists are from Crown Heights, Brooklyn AND SPEAK TO MY SOUL
Surviving the Survivors
THIS IS THE TITLE OF THE NEW BOOK WHICH I AM PRESENTLY WRITING. This article was written and published after a book signing of "Soul Reflections" at the Holocaust museum in Washington DC. USA.
My heart broke and everything I had heard of as a child came together for me......visually.....spiritually......emotionally and verbally
Surrounded by the overwhelming power of death, the one who lives, senses the repugnant draw into the world below… Torment on earth…
living in hell…
Where am I? I wonder, how man, whom G-d has created with such great love in such perfection, can dehumanize himself, his flesh, his senses to such a degree, allowing atrocities beyond measure to occur.
Where were YOU?
YOU did not KNOW??
Evil is not a word sufficient, for what men have done to their fellow… there is no language that can express or describe the masks of death, strewn in mass graves. Bodies not recognizable, burned, severed from all human vision, degraded in life and defiled in death. Children’s innocence, devoured by human animals, feasting on game…
What minds can conceive such fiendish, monstrous cruelty, such destruction of flesh, worse than genocide can fathom. Where from arise the capabilities of such brutality and viciousness? Words fail to describe these horrendous acts, and elicit unspeakable grief from those trying to comprehend, to make sense of something that reaches beyond the tolerance of the human psyche.
Screaming walls surround me, faceless skeletons, wailing infants ripped from their mother’s bottoms. The pictures I see, carve craters of anguish into my sensibilities, crushing my soul. An immense lifelessness envelops me and I experience a sadness, which fills my essence with the understanding that G-d has turned away from his children, from his Chosen.
Tears sting my face; anger burns inside… My G-d, my G-d why? When you annihilated Sodom and Gomorra, you saved the one who was righteous…What about the millions, what was their crime against you, against the world to be deserving of the tortures of their souls, their bodies, their very beings?…Why, Why???
My faith cries out…Injustice, Dare I doubt?
Where were you Hashem when your folk burned, when thrown into the graves of thousands, their bones broken, their spirits shamed by the heinous crimes of their captors? How many deaths can one see, how much depravation can one human being absorb, without completely being destroyed? The Living Dead will not praise YOU!!!
How does one silence the angst inside, the knowledge that in a moment life collapses, ceases, How can one live???
And who are those who survive? And Do they really???
What can life be after you have seen atrocities beyond human grasp. Where is honor, where is love? Where is feeling? How can you go on believing, trusting? How???
Can you ever heal the mind of the memories, the images, and the torment? Can happiness and joy ever blot out the agonies experienced?
For the first time, I understand my life – these profound, deep needs to be loved, held, comforted, and made to feel safe. .
My heart sorrows for all who survived, it mourns the dead, but bleeds for the SURVIVOR! Survival fathered me. I too am a survivor …I am surviving my own life, without real warmth and caring, feeling a guilt that defies explanation, always thinking, that I can never make up for all that vanished in their lives without a trace, lost in my own world – yet not belonging to theirs.
Has hell opened its gates to swallow the evil of man? Is there a reward for souls who flew on angel’s wings to do your bidding???
Why was I born of the flesh so brutally pained? Of the sin of sins committed against all humanity…who am I to atone for such sinister deeds and where are the answers to endless questions plaguing my soul?
I carry the burden of that blood in my veins, and there is nowhere to hide. I must forgive those who have hurt me so greatly … they did not mean to! I must understand their ever-present nightmares, how deeply the rancor burns inside every cell of their bodies… I must forgive their not knowing how to cope in a world, that forgot their existence and closed their eyes, negated their suffering.
How could they know?? There was no one to teach them how to be parents…they did their best, their very best!
The mind does not forget horror…it does not forget revulsion, nausea, disgust. Forever are the images imprinted, never to be expelled, never to be erased, vivid today as then.
" Every day, I see the moving pictures of my life before my eyes, every day of my life", she said. I looked at her and saw my mother. Her tears, her hysteria, her fears and screams, her intolerance, her selfishness, her insecurity, her memories, her internal devastation, her conflicts, her coldness, her inability to truly give of herself and love, and for the first time, I understood it.
I am removed from the actuality of having SEEN with my own eyes, not having witnessed by being there, but all the pain and sorrow, the wails of the dying and the mutilated, ring in my ears and storm through my veins. It came into me, all of it, through the feeding placenta in my primal evolution.
Never before today, did I understand so totally, the terrible truth buried inside my psyche. My minds eye has seen the pictures, listened to the stories, compiled and completed thoughts and feelings a thousand times over again, for years.
I thought I had conquered…Can I EVER???
I MUST SURVIVE THE SURVIVORS!!!…
I must create and work toward an understanding of never forgetting my awesome heritage. "Branded crests of my fathers burned upon my breast," I wrote once…
My life belongs with the fallen, with the battered, with the believers. . I am their flesh, their soul, I am their voice, I am their future…I am their revenge, I am their blessing, I am their mother, their father, sister, brother, I am their child, I am each and every one of them…The lost ones,
the forgotten, the beaten, the battered… I am the raped, the broken, I am the daughter of my people.
I accept myself as a part of them and I live to tell their stories, to those who will hear and to those who will not. G-d gave me the voice; the words…I will survive them and they will forever live!!!
November 16, 17. 2003
April 28. 2003
Holocaust Memorial Day Temple Beit Ami Boca Raton, Florida
These dreams haunt my life – this poem represents excerpts of my Mother’s stories after spending
four and half years in the Bergen Belsen concentration camp.
The Memories...They Last Forever!
The house was empty when I arrived–
A queer stillness engulfs me…a strange odor...
The silence of doom echoes my footsteps.
A chair, broken,
Papers strewn, disarray…
Plates on the table,
Papa’s pipe, cold;
Mama’s shawl torn,
On the floor…
I pick it up–
So soft and beautiful…
Delicate aroma of her perfume…
They had not time …
Gestapo was here…taken everyone–
I peer through the window,
Watching, frightened, terrified.
In the street, where I played,
There they walk like cattle, led to slaughter,
My friends, their parents;
Where are they going???
Heart pounding in my throat,
Frantic, breath short,
Crippling sense of disaster…
Body frozen, paralyzed, feverish,
Blood standing still…
Sweat pouring down my face,
Where are you Mama?? Mama…
Harrowing cries, screaming, everywhere,
Darkness surrounds me,
Fear, beyond comprehension,
Tears sting my eyes–
Where are they all?
They’ve taken hundreds, thousands…
I saw them go…
No one returns …Life has stopped!
They leave with little,
A suitcase, a box, a cane,
Whatever they can carry,
Holding each other,
Searching comfort and strength,
Clamoring for warmth and support…
Horror written on their faces,
Overcome by anguish and grief…
Papa, Papa, it’s dark – I am afraid–
Where are you Papa, …hold me…please…
Music begins to play.
I hear it…soft, gentle…
My mind surrenders…
It’s real, I smile...
The piano, then a violin
Mama’s soft voice, comforting,
Humming in the background…
A sweet, soulful melody I know:
Oif’n Pripitschuk brennt a Faierl…und in Stub is heiss
Und der Rebble lernt kleine Kiderlach deim Alef Beis…
Hold on – hold on!!
Sweet cakes on the table,
Fruits, lovely plates–
Soft candlelight illuminates Papa in his chair,
Always calm, fine,
Puffing away, savoring these moments…
A smile playing on his lips,
His eyes so gentle, gazing lovingly, always…
My Papa, my Papa...
Every week they came,
Our family…my Uncles, Aunts,
Cousins, Saba and Safta…
I So Love Shabbos…
Was yesterday just a dream??
So long ago, it seems…
* * *
You there… get over here!
Harsh that voice, brutal, vicious...
I reel… see him…Rachmones!!!
Eyes glaring, he sneers, grabs,
Pulls me through the door…
I barely keep my balance
His stick strikes my back…I scream…
"Move, you! Get up!…
Thought you’d Get away…did, you…
No one gets away,
No escaping now!
Move! The truck...
Get on !
Evil, vindictive, cruel, malicious…
What have I done?
What have WE done? …
"Jews, Schweine Hunde,
The pack of you,
Infernal garbage of humanity,
You know each other, all of you"…
* * *
The truck moves, slowly through the streets,
Cramped like animals,
Packed like sardines…
Each one alone–
Each one lost in his story, his sorrow, his pain,
Forgotten by a world that does not hear our cries…
November’s bitter cold bites my flesh–
No one speaks...
There, my school…
Where are you???
Silence, no reply…
Where is G-D???
Robono Shel Haolam!!!
Look at us – find us!!
Have you forgotten???
Shema Israel, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad...
A baby cries, I turn–
Empty faces staring into the blackness of night…
Huddled humans in dread and terror:
Children hovering and clutching,
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers,
Grasping in horror at life for a moment–
Papa, mama…I am afraid, so afraid!!
Save me, I beg you…
I’ve never been alone before,
Always protected, always sheltered,
Who will protect me now???
No answer – deathly still!
Only the frosty, frigid, hissing wind,
Chants poignant, taunting melodies of our destiny.
The stench, barracks,
Begging for a piece of bread,
Each one for himself,
Survive we must, they say…
Don’t know how... I am too frail…I cannot live!!
They march them off, twice a day,
No one returns…
Will I be next?
Burning pollutes the air,
Foul smell of human flesh!
I cannot breathe…
Whispers all around me,
Hushed cries in the night,
Sleep, can I sleep?
Perhaps tomorrow it will end…
My lofty dream of sunshine,
Butterflies and… Bread.
* * *
He stood beside my bunk,
Bent over me, lovingly and calm.
Today, forever, I will remember his face...
The old man,
His beard white and long…kind eyes beseeching:
"Get up my child," with tears he murmured,
"Get up…do NOT let go!"
"Fight to live…
Pray and believe!!
You are strong,
You are young…
Hashem will give you strength…Ani Maamin!
Who was he???
Was he G-D???
Weary, lost; body filthy,
Racked with pain and lice,
Humiliated, tortured, dehumanized,
Angst-ridden, beyond suffering…
Nothing for me but death and despair…
What more can I endure?
G-D, forgive me...
I want to die...
What to live for?
I hear his voice…
Is now the time to die?
I am 15, just 15!!
I want to live...
G-D, I beg you, let me live!
I want to live!!!
At dawn they came to free us...
I have survived!!!