For the Stories that Live project Micaela and I were paired up with George and Vera, both of whom had survived the Holocaust. On our first visit Vera and George told us about all of their children and grandchildren and how most of them now live in Israel or are very involved in the Jewish community. Vera proudly showed me photos of her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She also showed me a photo of her father. He had a large beard and a serious face. When Vera was still young, he had been taken to a concentration camp, which prompted her mother to move the rest of her family to the United States. Originally they settled in Cleveland, but when her father was eventually freed the family relocated to Brooklyn, New York.
Vera’s story is unique because she was only five years old when she left her home in Czechoslovakia. She was not even school age when she fled the Nazi’s. Still, she recounted her first memories of seeing the Nazi Youth and the effect of anti-semitism on both of her parents.Some of Vera’s most interesting memories are those of the United States. Vera told me that once she arrived food finally tasted good and she could finally eat because she nor longer was living under the same fear that she had been in Czechoslovakia. While the US was amazing for her her mother could not escape her fears and would often wake up screaming from her nightmares.
Her stories particularly resonated with me because my grandfather was a young Jew living in Germany when the Nazi’s came to power. He unfortunately passed before I was able to talk to him about his life. Vera’s stories helped me see what it might have been like for my grandfather as a boy. I felt closer to him knowing what it might have been like for him to come here as a child.
Most importantly Vera’s story reminded me how important it is to remember the Holocaust. The issues of immigration, discrimination, and religion are still relevant today. We cannot forget the horrors Vera lived through and we cannot treat anyone the way her family and the Jewish people were treated. No child should have their father taken from them. They should not have to worry if their father will come home or what will happen to them.