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Dachau Death March
Thoughts and Reflections of a survivor on Yom Hashoha, The Holocaust Day

 

I was in the garden feeding our cat called ginger when the sirens went off, officially announcing the day of the Shoa. The shrill, piercing sound made ginger jump in the air and arch its back. Then she came scuttling down to hide between my legs, while I stood at attention.

It was ten in the morning and the sirens were sounding all over Israel, from Metula in the North, to Eilat in the South. Israelis wherever they are, stop and stand at attention for several minutes in honour of the six million Holocaust victims. For two minutes the whole country stops in its tracks. For us Holocaust survivors, this is of great emotional significance. We know that we are in the only country in the world that honours our perished families and friends in such a dignified manner. We, the Holocaust survivors, our children and grand children can hold up our heads and say, yes, this our home and no one will ever get us out of here, no matter what.

April is the most beautiful time of the year in Israel, just before the harsh summer heat invades the country. The orange groves are in bloom, and the sweet delicate  bouquet of orange blossoms permeates the country side. Passover,  is also behind us and soon we will celebrate Israelís 54th Independence day. Yet, today is the Holocaust day, the saddest day of the year for us survivors. Memories of the horrors I saw in my childhood surface in my mind and heart. Sadness is mixed with certain rage and resentment. Why did the world allow it to happen and did nothing, keeps going through my mind. If only Israel had existed ten years earlier, when Hitler was still willing to let the Jews go, there wouldnít have been a Holocaust and all that is near and dear to me would have survived. My mother and brother, my uncles and aunts, cousins, friends, teachers, rabbis, actors, writers and their descendants would all be alive today. But Israel did not exist, and they all perished in the flames of the Holocaust, leaving a painful void in our hearts and souls.

Since we live near the sea, on every Holocaust day I go down to the beach, to sense, to smell and feel. To smell the sea, feel the sun on my body, and sense the presence of perhaps something good, anything that would keep me from thinking, anything that would keep me from remembering. The sea always had that calming effect on me. Its vastness, as it stretches from horizon to horizon. The acrid smell of salt and kelp. The gentle murmur of  the waves as they wash ashore on the sandy beach. And how it changes colour gradually from dark blue, to turquoise green. One canít help singing hosannas to G-dís marvellous creation. And yet, I think of his supreme accomplishment, the creation of man: Cruel, vengeful, destructive and in many ways stupid, despite his intelligence. We canít help but observe the shape mankind is in and the shape of this beautiful planet that is gradually sinking in the muck created by ourselves.

Perhaps I am being too harsh on ourselves. Perhaps it is due to the memories I experienced as a child, on this Holocaust day. Perhaps it isnít really our fault.

Perhaps these bitter thoughts are also influenced by the death and destruction that surrounds us today. Suicide bombers, attacking our civilian population, as a strategic weapon hatched in the sick minds of Arafat and his Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian backers. Our subsequent attacks on the Palestinian towns and villages raining down more death and destruction on them. Soon the bombers will be on their way to our towns again and we back to theirs. No end to the cycle of violence. And my God, it could have been so different.. Just imagine if they, the Arabs, had accepted the United Nations decision in 1947, for the creation of two states living in peace side by side; Israel and Palestine, instead of trying to destroys us, war after war, after war. Imagine what the Middle East would  have been like today. To start with, we wouldnít have fought five major wars with hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded and continuos destruction of the area. There wouldnít have been three million Palestinian refugees with all their misery, condemned to rot in camps.

We could have placed our know how for the whole regions advantage, and the Middle East would have been today an area of prosperity and peace. To support this claim, all one has to do is to observe the achievements of tiny Israel in the last fifty years,  even while it had to spend billions of dollars to defend itself. From a pauper state in 1948, with millions of penniless refugees flooding the country, it built its industry, agriculture, made great medical discoveries, built a high tech industry that is only second to the famous Silicon Valley, built a formidable army,  to name but a few of the achievements. Then  observe what had happened to our Arab neighbours since 1948, and the conclusion is obvious. They have regressed year by year and the only thing they have produced is a new generation of frustrated fanatics, who hate the West, because they are envious of its achievements and hate its culture, because it is repulsive to them. And let us not make any mistakes, they donít hate America and the West because it supports Israel; on the contrary, they hate Israel because they see it as a bastion of the West in their midst. We had so much to offer them, instead they chose to fight us, and still do. It is a great pity. They never seem to learn. We are here to stay and they might as well make peace with that idea instead of forever fighting it. After all it is just a matter of concept. We are Israel and they are Ishmail, and we are supposed  to be cousins.

Solly Ganor
Herzelia, Israel