"Please Remember: Holocaust Remembrance Day” by Gene Klein | Miki's Hope

"Please Remember: Holocaust Remembrance Day” by Gene Klein

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I was contacted by Smith Publicity and asked to please post this--I agreed! Hopefully others will also be posting this exact same guest post--this is truly a wonderful piece. April 15th--today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Please consider the article below, “Please Remember: Holocaust Remembrance Day” by Gene Klein, one of the few survivors alive of the Holocaust, specifically of Auschwitz.

Of his prose he says, “Here is what I want you to remember after we are gone, when our memories must become yours, so that future generations will have the knowledge and compassion to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

Here is the guest post by Gene Klein


Please Remember: Holocaust Embrace Day

Picture from Amazon of Jill Klein's book

Gene Klein (with Jill Klein, author of We Got the Water: Tracing my Family’s Path through Auschwitz)

It has been 70 years since I was liberated from a Nazi concentration camp. I was just a teenager then; I’m 87 now. Holocaust Remembrance Day is April 15th, and I have been thinking about what I want you and your loved ones to remember about the Holocaust. I speak frequently about my experiences, and I am able to remind people about what happened, provide them with vivid descriptions, and answer their questions. But I am among the last of the survivors, and one day—sooner than I would like to think—we will all be gone.

Here is what I want you to remember after we are gone, when our memories must become yours, so that future generations will have the knowledge and compassion to avoid the mistakes of the past:

Please remember the life we had before it all started; before the name-calling, the bricks through the windows, long before the cattle cars and the camps. I was born into a middle class Hungarian family in a small town in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains. Our town was charming. We sat in outdoor cafes on summer evenings, and skated on the river on winter afternoons. My father owned a hardware store, was an avid soccer fan, and loved to tend to his garden. My mother took care of my two sisters and me, and was preoccupied with getting me—a naturally skinny kid—to eat more. We were not wealthy, but we had everything we needed. In the most basic of ways, we were not unlike you and your family. And we felt as secure as you do now.

Please remember that all of this was taken away. Within a few weeks in the spring of 1944, my father’s store was confiscated, my Jewish friends and I were told that we were no longer welcome at school, and we were forced to wear a yellow star. Then we were forced from our home, crowded into cattle cars, and taken to Auschwitz. When we arrived, the men were separated from the women, and then my father was separated from me. My father had been a POW in World War I, and during his years of imprisonment he learned to play the violin and to speak five languages. He was intelligent and humorous. I loved him the way any 16-year-old boy loves a wonderful father. The way you love your father, if you are lucky enough to have a good one. So imagine this: a man in a black uniform sends you to one direction and your father to another. You don’t know why, until the next day a veteran prisoner points up at the smoke coming out of a chimney and says, “Your father is up there.” Please remember my father.

Please remember that it is terribly easy for one group to strike another group off the roster of humanity, to see others as vermin or pests, as an affliction that must be destroyed. It happens again and again. And once it does, people are capable of inflicting terrible hardship and pain on others, and to feel they are righteous in doing so. None of the SS officers who ordered me—a starving teenager—to carry heavy steel rails up a hillside thought of themselves as monsters. They were adhering to their beliefs, and they were serving their country. We must be constantly vigilant for the descent that takes us from self-righteous beliefs, to the dehumanization of others and into the sphere of violence.

Please remember that while we are capable of all of this, we can also rise to amazing heights in the service of others. For two weeks I had the good fortune to have a respite from hard labor while I was assigned to work with a civilian German engineer who was surveying the landscape where future roads would be built. He saw the terrible conditions I was living under and decided to help. Everyday he hid food for me from the SS kitchen where he ate lunch. Chicken, milk, rice, and cheese left under a bench in the back corner of a barracks. He cared, he took a risk, and he saved my life. Please remember him.

And finally, remember that no one should be judged because of his or her nationality, religion or race. We were sent to the camps because propaganda was believed, individuality was erased, and hate was rampant. When asked if I am angry with Germans, I think of the German engineer, and know that individuals must be judged by their own personal actions. If I can hold this as a guiding principle after what happened to my family and me, then you can, too.

Please take my memories as yours, share them, and carry them forward. It is by doing so that you can help keep the next generation from forgetting, and help fill the space that we survivors will leave behind when we are gone.




All opinions expressed are my own honest opinions. For more information please check my Disclosure Statement. Our giveaways are in no way sponsored or promoted by Facebook.

26 comments :

Scott said...

That was so hard to read. I cannot fathom having to live through this. It was such a horrible time...

Jennifer Williams said...

I had no idea today was the Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is horrible that any human being can do these things to another - unfortunately it does happen. Thankfully there are others that will step up and risk everything to help and to change things.

Athena Nagel said...

My husband's grandmother lost many in the Holocaust. She has since passed on but would occasionally share stories. She did not care to relive it but as her time was getting on and her memories were disappearing she felt it was important to do so. Such a tragic time.

Stefany T said...

I admit that I don't know enough of what happened. I need to really become familiar with it so I can be more humbled by their losses. Thank you for this post.

Literary Winner said...

Such powerful words that remind us of this terrible tragedy. They strike very close to home for me - thank you for sharing.

Katherine Bartlett said...

I am a Jew so thank you so much for posting this.

Coolmoms Cooltips said...

Thank you for posting this. We need to remember why wars start to avert them and respect each other

Linda A. Kinsman said...

I feel terrible that I didn't know there was a Holocaust remembrance day. Thank you for sharing this!

Janet Krugel said...

It's so important for us to remember this horrible time in history so we don't repeat it.

Janet Krugel said...

It's so important for us to remember this horrible time in history so we don't repeat it.

Laura O in AK said...

I had not heard about it being Holocaust Remembrance Day before reading this post. It is definitely something we ALL need to remember.

Housewife Eclectic said...

Wow. This is such a powerful post. Thank you for posting.

Christi at SexyMoxieMama.com said...

I did not know that today was Holocaust Remembrance Day. I hope that the human race never has to experience that again.

Theresa Mahoney said...

That was hard to read, but so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your story. I will remember.

Stacey- Travel Blogger said...

I will have to read this book. This was such a tragic time, but it's important to remember and honor those lost.

Donna L. Ward said...

I did not know that April 15 was the Holocaust Memorial Day - I will always remember - it is so important

Lena B said...

This day is very hard to forget. I really hope this lesson will never taje place again

Liz Mays said...

I feel badly that I didn't know this was the day. I'm so glad I stumbled upon this post and read his story though.

mail4rosey said...

I didn't know it was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Seems like that should be a day everyone knows at least the date of, doesn't it???

kristi dominguez said...

Wow...So many strong emotions from this. It is so important for remember this part of history...and to insure that it NEVER happens again. Thank you for sharing.

Lynndee said...

What a very interesting book. I know my husband would be interested to read it too. I didn't know yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. Thank you for the info.

jheylo said...

Amazing story! It's encouraging to hear wonderful advice from someone who went through a lot because it only means that they are sincere when conveying message to everyone.

Katrina Gehman said...

My family is from Cuba so we don't have anyone that went through the holocaust, but i think it is very important that we honor those who were affected.

Katrina Gehman said...

My family is from Cuba so we don't have anyone that went through the holocaust, but i think it is very important that we honor those who were affected.

Holly @ Woman Tribune said...

This is an incredible guest post, thank you so much for sharing it. It is so important for us all to read the words of and listen to the few survivors of the Holocaust that we still have with us. We must take their memories and never let them be forgotten so that nothing like that can ever be a reality for anyone ever again.

Raquel Mitchell said...

I didn't know there is a holocaust day. Such a nice words that help us to remember this awful tragedy. I've seen a lot of World War II movies. Some scenes I can't take it.

 
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