Holocaust Remembrance Day as Seen Through the Eyes of Survivors’ Children
Holocaust Remembrance Day feels part sentimental overkill, part Hallmark greeting card for the children of Holocaust survivors, who thanks to intergenerational trauma have been reminded of and personalized the cataclysmic historical tragedy every damn day of their lives.
My mother, a Hungarian Jew born in Transylvania, survived by hiding in a barn, although I never heard the details. She claims to have made it through the war without seeing a single dead person, but Antonescu and the Romanians were second only to Hitler and the Germans in their brutality, so who really knows what she endured and its effects on her later life?
My father, also a Hungarian Jew but one born and raised in Budapest, turned 16-years-old (same as my own kid Nicky now) when Tiger tanks rolled down his cobble stoned street. Recruited by the SD to work as a drafsman, given an office and a secretary, mascot to Nazis fresh from the mass murders in Russia, caught playing cards and imprisoned, released and abandoned, hidden in basements and displaced, his adventures were interesting and arduous, and no doubt gravely impacted an already inscrutable, taciturn teenager living at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Terrible things happened to both my parents, both of them now gone and unable to shed any more light into their darkness. A vexing and tantalizing mystery for me is the extent to which their terrors and near-death experiences influenced who they were, the decisions they made, and what eventually became our horribly dysfunctional, pathologically unhappy family.
The Holocaust didn’t only annhilate Jews, of course, and genocides pepper all of human history past, present, and no doubt future. Yes, we should remember and never forget, yet also acknowledge that suffering isn’t owned by particular victims, nor is oppression limited to their perpetrators. Jews and Germans, Armenians and Turks, Tutsi and Hutu, the list goes on and on.
Genonide in whatever form it takes, regardless of victims and perpetrators, whenever and wherever on the planet, is an infinite house of mirrors reflection of everything horrific and…