In 2003,as soon as George Bush began muttering about the Shock and Awe,I straightaway reacted.That consciousness seems to have been always present in my veins,being a daughter of two Holocaust survivors and not having anyone of my family on both sides alive.Despite never meeting anyone and having only four photographs, the only remnants of two large prominent European Jewish families, one of my grandmother,from my mother's side, an image that marked me profoundly,as her Goyesque posture holding her pinscher dog ,two of my grandparents from my father's side, his father and mother,who seemed to be a strong and imposing figure and one of my father's brother,the architect ,walking with his atache case in Koln,where he lived and designed buildings.
I can only remember both of my two parents imbuing in me a love for Life and a sense of alertness to social cruelty and injustice.They emphasized that the power we carry is within and to be aware of how we must give from us ,aware of Beauty and Humor.
I watched their suffering,as they did not belong to the world that turned out to be after Hitler.
I must paraphrase Balthus, the painter who once said,that "Hitler opened the Pandora's box... and ever since. the world lost completely the sense of where violence should stop.How could one ever invade and take people out of their homes, and proceed into so much barbarie. There will never be words to translate or describe.
I have a certain anguish, a nonstop feeling of torment,as I come from these two people,who witnessed and endured the horror imposed on them.
As much as my parents would not talk about what happened to them,I would ask them,and every now and then, I recall some of the passages of their experience.
How my mother was brought to the concentration camp along with other women, have her hair shorn,given cloth to wear that did not fit and forced to look in the mirror.Her turquoise earrings ,given to her by her grandmother,were torn of her ear lobes.In the terrible cold she was wearing wooden whatever it was called on her feet with no socks or any things to keep warm, while having to eat something that tasted like a bromide.
My father, who was a highly cultured man,arrested by the Russians, was taken to Siberia to forced labor,to some hell among common criminals. I cannot forget the scarred hole in his back,where he was hit with a knife during a mutiny in the gulag.
My mother's knees had a mark. She was kicked by a Gestapo female guard,for not listening to her orders to watch the hanging of a escapee.
I am challenged by fate,to be able to overcome any obstacle,any cruelty done to me,as here, I am the product of two humans who saw it all and still could have faith in mankind,although weary and still dream of a peaceful future.
I ask myself,what was their role,as Primo Levi asked,If this is Man, to have brought me to this world, to be the reminder of their testimony. For me to keep alive and be a voice for all the perished ones unjustly and be strong not to cave in,even in the most frightening moments that Life seems to puzzle me with.
Today I went to see my friend, a charming Indian woman, who always tries to calm me down.
She told me not to fear. There is a spirit up there looking over me to guide me.
My parents were beaten, tortured, starved, made homeless,stateless, all was taken from them,and here I am facing homelessness,alone?
Despite all their losses,they never lost what was taught to them about their ancestry 's involvement in causes of humanistic values.I was reminded by my mother who was a student of Confucian thought,as she was studying in Krakow,at the Jagiellonian and descendant from the Eger rabbinical dynasty from Toledo ,in Spain.And so was my father,a descendant of a rabbinical and noted leaders in Poland.
Still, I must be aware and scream aloud and hope to inspire whomever I can that Life is Beautiful,like the name of the movie and believe that goodness will prevail.