Yom Hashoah and Great Britain’s Sir Nicolas Winton, Britain’s Schindler

Yom Hashoah and Great Britain’s Sir Nicolas Winton, Britain’s Schindler

This week represents the remembrance of Yom Hashoah and of the Nazi regime from 1933-1945.The Holocaust affected the entire world.

Hitler and the Nazi party murdered without mercy 6 million men, women and children for the crime of being born into a Jewish family. In addition there were an additional six million murdered for their ethnic or religious preference. Jehovah Witnesses, gypsies, Catholics, political prisoners who did not agree with Hitler and the Nazi regime. In addition they also condemned criminals and homosexuals for a total of 12 million men, women and children. “National Socialist German Workers Party “was the Nazi party.

Hitler envisioned a 1000 year Reich. In order for his vision to succeed he concluded he must eliminate those who did not fit his view of a pure Aryan. In order to purify his mad vision he decided the aforementioned must be eliminated by any and all means possible.

My late wife and I were born in the early days of the rise to power of Hitler and his Nazi party. Our lives were touched by the madness of that era. Fortunately for my family our Father left Russia in 1925 for America where he had four sons. In 1948 he learned what happened to his family. He received a letter from Russia from one of his brothers that survived the war. Our Father was a strong man, but upon reading the letter, he started to cry with a sound myself and my brothers would never forget.

My wife’s Father who was born in Berlin, Germany escaped before Hitler closed the borders. He was to find out after the war what happened to his family. One of his 3 sisters was a survivor and by one of God’s miracles she was able to reunite with her brother.  He learned that another of his sisters was raped by a Nazi. She became catatonic and never spoke again. She was shot as a mental defect. His parents were sent to a concentration camp where they perished along with their remaining daughter.

My wife and I devoted our later years to help students and adults understand the Holocaust. Our mission continues as I dedicate my lectures to her memory. (She died in 2009). During that period of history most families in America were touched one way or another and could not escape from the ongoing slaughter in Nazi Germany. This is the Yom Hashoah, (day of remembrance) when I reflect on how the Holocaust affected the lives of my family.  The family members that I would never meet who are buried in unknown graves.

My family and I are only one part of the millions of tragedies and stories that are still being told in 2013. We must never forget and it is for the younger generation to remember the Holocaust. 

All of the Holocaust survivors among us have a dramatic story to tell about their miraculous escape. Their powerful narratives of those children in Europe when the war began include the thousands of Jewish children of the Kindertransport in the nine months leading up to Britain’s declaration of war on Nazi Germany.  A remarkable network of Jews and Non-Jews worked tirelessly to bring these children out Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia to safety.

One such person was Sir Nicholas Winton of Great Britain, also known as Britain’s Schindler. In 1939 he saved 669 mainly Jewish children from Czechoslovakia which was occupied by Nazi Germany. While risking his own life he organized train transports of the children from the endangered area to Great Britain which was not yet affected by war. There he found new homes for them and allowed each to start a new safe life. He never talked about his deed and had it not been for wife, who in 1988 by chance discovered a document about the whole operation, his heroic act would be forever hidden from the eyes of the public and the saved children. There is an ongoing petition to nominate Sir Nicholas Winton for the Nobel peace prize.

Shalom.

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