The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

In Memoriam

This week, my mother passed away at the age of 94. She was a Holocaust Survivor—among the last of her generation to pass.

Her life began in normalcy, turned into chaos, morphed into survival, and ended in triumph. Let me explain.

My mother was born in Warsaw, Poland and lived a comfortable, but modest urban life until the adherents of a truly evil ideology invaded her country in 1939. The West did nothing, hoping that the evil ideology would burn itself out. The ideology, Nazism, was virulently anti-Semitic, and within months, Jews were herded into the Warsaw Ghetto. Normalcy devolved into chaos.

My mother, a young girl of 17, blond, blue-eyed and athletic was assigned the role of scavenger. At night, she snuck out of the ghetto through the sewers and traded valuables for food, sneaking back in before dawn. One night the Nazis bricked up the sewers. She was locked out of the Ghetto. It was the last time she would see her mother and three sisters alive. We think her family died in Auschwitz. Chaos morphed into survival.

On the run, she traveled through war-torn Poland and Germany, her light skin and hair color allowing her to pass as Christian. She was homeless at times, a factory slave-laborer at others, lived through the kindness of strangers, had many near captures and escapes, and ran from an ideology that wanted her dead. She survived the horror of World War II through what I believe was a sheer force of will.

After the war, she met my father, a GI. They married and moved to the United States. She learned English, and they started a family of three children. She kept us very close, fearing I think, the idea of losing another family. Today, she is survived by her three children, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Her family was her triumph.

She will be missed.