Yesterday was Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for the Holocaust of World War II. It’s a day I knew nothing about until a friend’s Twitter post and my sister-in-law’s blog entry. It’s a somber day in Israel and a siren sounds twice during the day bringing everything to a halt for two minutes of silence. People even stop their cars and get out.
Like much of family history, Holocaust stories are important to share and remember. These stories (Holocaust and otherwise) provide a vital infusion of humanity and connection into what could otherwise be distant history. These stories are not so distant history, even if they happened hundreds of years ago. We’re still connected to them and they had an impact on our DNA.
Here’s a brief excerpt of my sister-in-law’s story:
All of the able bodied Jews were used as slave labor in various capacities, while the old, sickly, and the children were left behind in the ghetto. One day my grandparents and oldest uncle returned from their day of “work” to find that those they had left behind in the ghetto had been slaughtered. Their bodies were left in the streets. My great grandparents were amongst the dead, as well as my uncle, who had been decapitated. He was three years old. My grandfather realized that he needed to escape the ghetto or die. He somehow managed to get himself, my grandmother, and my teenage uncle out of the ghetto. They spent the next few years in the woods of Poland with Partisans. The fought the Nazis by sabotaging bridges and trains.
It’s worth reading the rest of her post (though I disagree with her political conclusions).