Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016

Discussion in 'Concentration, Death Camps and Crimes Against Huma' started by LRusso216, Jan 27, 2016.

  1. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    14,114
    Likes Received:
    2,482
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. This article was in today's paper. It's sad to think that one day there will be no camp survivors left, I hope some of us will keep their memory alive.

    Somehow, after more than 70 years, she recalls his name. Horst, yes, that's it. Horst Strasser. He was 17, and she was 15 or so. They had become good friends under the worst of circumstances. For when one is cast into the flames of hell, a pleasant face represents a quenching spring. They survived day by day.
    Then one day became the day. Strasser could endure imprisonment and starvation no longer. The boy had beaten the odds and escaped from Riga Ghetto, a heavily guarded, Nazi working camp of 10,000 in Latvia during the Holocaust, and Claire Goldstein, née Franke, was happy she would never see him again.
    And then she did.
    "When he was captured, the German soldiers brought all the inmates out and forced us to watch him get hanged," Goldstein, 88, said on Tuesday, recalling some of the horrors she experienced while she and her family were incarcerated 3½ years by the Nazis. "They were sending all of us a message.
    "I don't know why I thought any of us would survive after that. Don't know why we had hope. I guess maybe it's because it was the only thing we had to hold on to: hope."
    ***
    Claire Goldstein opens the door to her apartment at Ann's Choice retirement community in Warminster and offers a visitor a seat in the living room of her soul. Photographs of her parents, siblings, late husband, two daughters, grandchildren and friends provide her comfort from the stinging chill of her past. As she speaks of her imprisonment at Riga Ghetto during the Holocaust, she occasionally tears up. The memories — captivity, fear, hunger, and the deaths of her father and brother to starvation at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp — remain tender wounds.
    But as the world observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day today, what Goldstein believes would be more painful is if the children of today were left uneducated about atrocities orchestrated by a madman named Adolf Hitler a long time ago.
    "I know every time I talk about this I get emotional and cry," she said. "But I will always tell my story because I don't want people to forget about the Holocaust.
    "I have spoken to schoolchildren in Souderton schools, where my daughter used to teach. The children asked me if I met Hitler, and what food I got to eat in the camps. I told them about the Holocaust. We have to talk about it. Pretty soon, all of us will be gone and there will be no one left to tell it.
    "And if somebody tells me that the Holocaust did not happen, I get very angry and just tell them to look at me and listen to my story. I will tell them."
    She pauses, setting her jaw as if reloading her resolve.
    "Yes," she continued, "I will tell them."
    ***
    The Riga Ghetto was a small area designated by the Nazis where Jews from Latvia, and later Germany, were forced to live during World War II. On October 25, 1941, the Nazis relocated all Jews from Riga and the vicinity to the ghetto while non-Jewish inhabitants were evicted. Most of the Latvian Jews, nearly 28,000, were shot dead and tossed into pre-dug pits by the Nazis on Nov. 30 and Dec. 8, 1941, in the forests of nearby Rumbula.
    A short time later, Goldstein arrived at Riga Ghetto with her mother, Elfriede; father, Max; and older siblings, sister, Ruth, and brother, Gerd, from their hometown of Herford, in Germany.
    "We lived in these tiny apartments in the camp that was all fenced in and had guards," Goldstein said. "We lived in two rooms with nine people from different families, and had no food, only cold water and an outhouse.
    "It seemed like it was always cold in the ghetto. When we arrived in December, there was snow on the ground, and it was still there in May. Then, as the snow melted, you could see the blood on the ground from the prisoners who were killed there. All the blood."
    Goldstein recalled the drill each day: Being awakened at 6 a.m., and then marching out of camp with the other inmates to work shoveling snow, washing soldiers' uniforms or working in the hospital kitchen.
    "When we assembled in camp at the end of the day, we were given a bowl of soup — it was like water, really — and one slice of bread," she said. "That was all the food you got for the whole day. We wore (blue and gray) prison uniforms, and had our heads shaved so we would be recognized as Jews if we escaped. A young girl with her head shaved."
    A smile replaces Goldstein's frown, and she suddenly brightens. She takes her hands and runs them from each side of her head to the sides of her neck.
    "I used to have these pigtails … ," she said, her voice trailing off. "Pigtails."
    ***
    Goldstein returns from her bedroom with photographs she cannot recall how she received. Encased in plastic, they are black-and-white snapshots of her as an 11-year-old and of her family, and a few of Germany.
    And then she points to another photo, of a sign printed in German that hung on the barbed-wire fence of Riga Ghetto. Below it is a white index-sized card on which Goldstein translated it to English, it read, in part:
    Any person who climbs the fence will be shot without warning.
    ***
    In 1944, when Soviet military advances reached Latvia, the Riga Ghetto prisoners were relocated; Goldstein, her mom and sister were transferred to a prison in Hamburg, Germany, and her father and brother were sent to Bergen-Belsen, where she understands they starved to death and died on May 1, 1945.
    Also on that date, Goldstein, her mom and sister were imprisoned at Kiel-Wellsee working camp in Germany when it was liberated.
    "We saw all these Swedish Red Cross cars pull up to the camp," Goldstein said. "They were white cars with red crosses on them, but we were still afraid to go. We knew in the past that anyone who left the camp didn't return, and we knew why. We thought they were coming to get us, that this was the end for us."
    After liberation, Goldstein and her family were taken care of by the Swedish government for 1½ years, before emigrating in 1947 to Philadelphia, where her mother had friends.
    ***
    Goldstein's Holocaust experience has robbed her of so much: Her father and brother; chunks of her formative years; and her belief in God, who, she says, couldn't possibly be what he's supposed to be given what she believes he allowed to happen during those dark years.
    "I will never go back to God," she vows. "All those little kids, what happened to them? Couldn't he have stopped it somehow?"
    Despite it all, Goldstein remains a happy person, refusing to allow her past to stifle her present and future. She married, had children and a career, and even has a friend who lives nearby that she met, of all places, at Riga Ghetto.
    On her refrigerator door are several magnets, including one that pokes der Fü​​hrer right in the eye:
    Today I am in charge of how I feel, and I am choosing happiness.
    http://www.theintell.com/news/columnists/phil-gianficaro/gianficaro-ann-s-choice-resident-recalls-horrors-of-nazi-incarceration/article_4d19edc8-c47d-11e5-b83b-137a2f99cdcf.html
     
    Smiley 2.0 and 4jonboy like this.
  2. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    4,753
    Likes Received:
    328
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    ....if you read survival stories, POWS, and of the Holocaust, etc, sometimes those that died lost hope...it wasn't physical, but mental...
    27 January is the anniversery of liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.....good post LRusso....I don't think a lot people really grasp the enormous enormity of the Holocaust......especially the people who do not study the subject....they live in their Starbucks and smartphone world, culture, life...they reject and throw away food because it doesn't taste exactly correct.....they think it's a huge burden to travel a few feet out in 25 degree weather going to their car...it's impossible for them to even start to comprehend that evil, an entirely different world, era and time.....it will be remembered, but not fully comprehended !.
     
  3. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2014
    Messages:
    3,148
    Likes Received:
    359
    Location:
    New England
    Thank youfor posting Lou. I echo your comments.
     
  4. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2013
    Messages:
    469
    Likes Received:
    47
    Location:
    South Yorkshire, England
  5. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2003
    Messages:
    20,323
    Likes Received:
    2,762
    Location:
    Stirling, Scotland
    Great link, Lou.
     
  6. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2014
    Messages:
    1,450
    Likes Received:
    180
    Location:
    The Land of the Noble Steed
    Thank you for the link Lou!
     

Share This Page