“Those martyrs live.”
How can the suffering and death of 6 million people be illustrated and I appropriately described or expressed? What can we learn from it? In the case of tyranny, the individual has to stand up and fight. You become art of either the suppressors or the suppressed. There is no third way. No one nation can take all the blame, nor can another be the only victim; all humanity shares in both the guilt and the sacrifice.
The impact on all of us who survived remains in our experience. Whether we recognize it consciously or unconsciously, it is like a shadow accompanying us to our graves. I rarely think about it; however, I did gain insights. To me, bread is a symbol, as it is for Catholics. For them it is a symbol of the body of Jesus; for me it is a symbol of life. It is such a joy to go to the grocery store and buy food. (Remember the boy who wanted to eat a second order of bean soup?) Nights are a different story. As a European-born writer in Israel said, “We might win all the battles against the Arabs during the day but lose against the Germans every night.” At night I died a hundred times.
I feel that all of us who were marked by the yellow star were tattooed inside. We have a special obligation, not a privilege, in being alive. As survivors, our moral and human obligations are essential, and our standards have to be based on human principles rather than on practicalities. We must take a stand against suppression and injustice. It hurts me more when injustice is done by Jews than by others. I do not have any hatred. I did not become a judge, even though I was a victim. Now I have a special obligation to show that my life is more than survival. We who survived are not different from others; we just played a special role in a special time.
One night in a dream I asked God, “Are we the chosen people?”
“The world turns on its axis and each segment receives an equal share of sunshine.” That was the answer.