Listen my children for you shall hear of the holocaust, the years that many still fear. For years you have been taught of Moses and the Exodus. For now I must teach you of Hitler and the Holocaust. There was once a man whose name is forever evil in the hearts and minds of our people. That man was Hitler. My dear grandchildren do I give thanks that you live freely as you do now. While Hitler reigned, I watched my home turn into a cavern of fear and despair. My country was in ruins and it was in desperate need of a leader. This became the rise of Hitler and sealed the fate of our people. It all started with the speeches; but he grew more powerful. He had the brown shirts, then the Werhmarcht, the SS jackboots, the Gestapo, and eventually the whole of Germany was in his grasps. This should have been good for fair Germany, but Hitler’s greatest strength was his fate for all others, especially the Jews. He took this hatred out on us by closing our businesses, Jewish synagogues, closed entertainment to Jews, and forced us to wear a Star of David so all would know who we were, “Juden.”
In the time of the Exodus, the Pharaoh was the master and executor of the Israelites, as his guards were our tormentors. In the Holocaust, Hitler was our Pharaoh, our master and our tormentor; his dreaded S.S., our tormentors. Egypt’s vast empire ran parallel to Hitler’s Third Reich; his new world order. Hitler hated us, the weak and feeble Jews. To him we were not human, and we were only meant as laborers, victims to the whips of the strong people of Germany. Hitler needed to find how to eliminate us: enter the Holocaust.
In the eyes of a child
Innocent with curiosity
Thinking that he wanted to know what was behind the walls of chains
Walking through the gate was a gray uniformed jackboot
The soldier said that we were there because we were different
When he looked around he saw nothing but pain
Because he was alone
He had nowhere to go but into the camp
A uniform waiting for him
On the table next to hundreds of other grays and blacks
He took it
Torn by hatred
It was insanity in one little day
At the time I was an orphaned little boy around the age of six; still innocent with curiosity. One day I was taken away by soldiers, with the dreaded lightning pins; they were the SS. Oh my memory grows old, what I remember next, was being taken to a camp; my naivety imagined an adventure to be had, all around me, all I saw was despair. The guards took my clothes, gave me a uniform. Numbers and letters forever etched in black on my arm, to this day: to remember I was not a man.
He had endured the agony from the whip of a man
I ran off to play. Crack! I felt agony like never before. Behind me was a Jackboot, an SS, with a whip in his hand. The SS said “You cannot play. You are Juden.” I never forgot what happened that day and promised myself: never again!
It never went away and it always came back
Every minute he lived
Was another minute he was nearing death
The jackboot men had guns at hand
He knew that he was next
He closed his eyes
A racket of noise
He thought it was done
There was black
Every day I worked hard, and did all I could not to incur the wrath of my tormentors. Never again. Days turned to weeks, to months, to years, but time was nothing. Everyday was lived in sorrow and sadness.
The guards took us out and lined us up. I knew what was next; I closed my eyes and prayed for strength, “barukh attah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha’olam hanoten laiya’ef koach”. There was a racket of shots. I felt the cold tip of the pistol on my head, and all was black.
When he opened to peek
There was a man in front of him
That man was different than he had ever seen
He was full of joy
With no anger
There in his palm was a brown piece of candy
He tasted it
It was like nothing he ever had before
A piece of joy
Someone was holding me. I woke to see it was a man, never have I seen this man before. His face was comforting; he was a soldier. I looked for the dreaded lightening bolts, I could not find any. He spoke; I did not know what he was saying. Now I know it was English that he spoke, for he was an American. The man gave me something to eat. It was the most wonderful taste in the world, Chocolate!
He was free
He had no past
He had a future
For he would give life to generations free
Who were equal with everyone
He had live in hatred, but he would soon live in peace
I am he
- Jorg Seelenfreund, Buchenwald, Germany , 1945
My children my memory is hazy, and I remember not what happened after, but from that day forth, I was free. Our people were free; many of us went to America others returned to our homeland. As Moses lead our people long ago. I have lived, and now I have descendants that may play freely, may love freely, and may live freely. We must remember what happened; for if we do not, who will? Never forget my grandchildren, never forget how free you are, never forget the many who perished.
- George Seelenfreund, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2006