posted on Jan, 8 2009 @ 09:54 PM
First I'd really like to thank a handful of members for their support, even in the brief amount of time I went downstairs to drill my dad for the
details- dates and numbers I always seem to forget.
This is my family's story. Of course Raven is not my real name. I'm 18 years old. I try not to talk about these things because, in all honesty, they
are depressing. I also assumed people already knew about this and that there was no point repeating it. I was raised Jewish, and I suppose I am
culturally like my mom, but I don't believe or follow Judaism. My dad was raised traditional, almost orthodox. My mom is more culturally Jewish- she
is an atheist and believes in ETs (but no encounters, just a hypothetical thing). The grandmother I will be speaking of is my dad's mother. When I
was little, my dad's dad died, and I never really got along with that side of the family to begin with- their accents were thick and strong and half
the time I didn't understand what they were saying to me. They were (unlike many people think about Jews) not very wealthy. My grandpa was not keen
on investing in much of anything, and my grandma listened to what he said.
I don't know when I first learned about the Holocaust. I think it happened gradually from the time I was born by overhearing conversations. I always
wondered why my dad's family was so much smaller than my mom's. But there was no point in time when I "learned of" the Holocaust. When I got
older, I traveled and heard my grandma speak. She spoke in public schools in many towns in my area, colleges, museums, and most recently she spoke at
a government building regarding her experience and also about the current conflict in Darfur.
I'd like to note that ATS is the first place in my life that I have encountered people who don't believe in the Holocaust as I learned it.
This is the story that I was told by my father and grandmother about what happened in her life. This is the story that thousands of people have heard
in schools and meetings all over the country, it is on record in the Holocaust museum, and in numerous other Holocaust archives. So I will tell it
here and I don't want to ever explain again on this website or have to defend myself. That's why I rely on a lot of support from other members
because honestly, I'm just a kid, I don't need to argue about things that are close to my heard. And after I am said and done, if you think I'm
lying, then I think it shows poor character.
My grandmother was born in a small town called Jasina in an area that is now the Czech Republic. It is part of sub-Carpathian Lithuania, near Poland.
My grandma's father (my great grandfather) owned a farm and the general store in town. My grandma had lots of animals when she was little- horses,
dogs, cats (I think one's name was Mitsy). She walked to school every day and learned to speak Czech and Polish, as well as some English there. She
had a mother (who I was named after), father, two sisters, and three brothers. There were gypsies in her town and her family always gave them food to
eat. They were fairly wealthy for their town but didn't have much, and new shoes were a big deal back then.
When my grandma was 20, things started to change. Jasina became a ghetto and they couldn't really go anywhere, but things weren't too bad yet. In
April 1944, when my grandma was about 20 and a half, Jasina was evacuated and she was separated from most of her family. She was sent to Auchwitz
first, and as they were marching to the cattle cars, she was separated from her father who died in the camps. At this point in the story when my
grandma tells it she always cries and I could try to put in the same emotion that she does regarding what he said to her but I just can't.
At Auchwitz she was separated from her mother and sisters. She tells the story of how they made two lines and one line led to a room where they shave
your head and take your clothes, and the other led right to the gas showers. In Auchwitz they gave very little food, and here she saw Josef Mengele,
who she said was very handsome but also very cruel. One day in line-up she smelled something horrible and asked somebody near her what the smell was.
She was told it was the smell of her parents burning.
My grandma was in the famous death march out of Auchwitz. She was taken to a work camp 35 miles away where they put her on cattle cars. The trip on
the cars was long, hot, and reeked of the diseased and dead people in the cars with her. People just went to the bathrooms everywhere, there was no
food, it was totally dark.
From the cattle cars, she went to two different work camps- Gelsenkirchen and Essen. I think here she was still with her niece, who was about her age.
They somehow managed to survive. Many older women and mothers who had been separated from their children gave my grandma some crumbs of bread. They
had old bread, weak soup, and some other beverage, but only about half a bowl every two days.
From the work camps she went to Bergen-Belsen. While working either here or at the work camps she had broken her arm, which typically meant she would
be killed as she was useless for the Nazis. However, one woman Nazi was kind to her and kept her as a translator because my grandma knew 6 languages
at that point (7 now, she speaks English). They casted her arm but lice got underneath and ate at her flesh. She said the itching was horrible and she
Luckily, Bergen-Belsen was liberated in April 1945. She went to Sweden and stayed there for awhile and learned English. Then she came to America and
met my grandpa and settled in New York. She crocheted and designed knitting and crocheting designs for magazines.
To be continued...