August 17, 2016, Israel
Giuliana, now an old woman visits Birkenau, part of the Auschwitz complex. Nothing has changed. She points out to her friend Primo Levi where she slept, where nine women slept on a plank of wood 1.8 by 2 meters. She recalls how as a young women she looked out her window and saw flames coming out from the chimney. She asked the older women what is the meaning of this, what is it that is being burned. "What is that fire?" She asked.
The older women answered "It is we who are burning."
The Truce by Primo Levi.
Primo Michele Levi was born in Turin, Italy.
On 21 February 1944, Levi and other inmates were transported in twelve cramped cattle trucks to Monowitz, one of the three main camps in the Auschwitz concentration camp complex. Levi (record number 174517) spent eleven months there before the camp was liberated by the Red Army on 18 January 1945. Of the 650 Italian Jews in his transport, Levi was one of twenty who left the camps alive. The average life expectancy of a new entrant at the camp was three months.
It is we who are burning. At that moment our relatives were being burnt, our sisters, our brothers, our parents, our grandparents, my great grandmother Pearl. At the moment ten of my eleven great aunts and uncles...and so many of our friends. Entire communities went up in smoke.
Where are we going? Where is that train going? But the train comes back empty, always empty.
The young woman looks up to see the smoke. Today it is her sisters, tomorrow it will be her. The Germans do not issue a round trip ticket, only one way. It is we who are burning.
The older women teach Giuliana that it is we who are burning, today me, tomorrow you, but it is all of us. We are all burning.
And today the world wants to forget. Today the world wants to shift the blame...
Years, and nothing heals, years and nothing is forgotten.
Years and nothing is learned.
Those Birkenau women were wise. They were not wise when they arrived but they learned fast, the Auschwitz lessons. If there is a smoke there is a fire, and if today it is you tomorrow it will be me.
And what are we doing about it?
What lessons have we learned? What actions are we taking.
I met a man in the park today. He knew my name, he knew where I taught, he said for a long time now he has wanted to join my Krav Maga class, and please can I start a Krav Kids class because look, look at his little children, so beautiful, so innocent.
I have heard this before but yet...no one shows up.
It is we who are burning. Today I saw a video of a young Arab women, from Michigan, USA, a moderate. She calls for the stabbing of all Israeli Jews. But is it only Jews? No, we see Christians targeted all over the world. It is we who are burning.
Say it out loud, It is we who are burning. It is your children, if not today then tomorrow. Shout out from the rooftops, let me know that you really believe it, understand.
It is WE who are burning. Who among us has not a relative killed by the Nazis and their helpers from Austria, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, France and USA...
Look out the window, see the smoke. And tell what me what you plan to do.
But remember who it is who will be burned, raped, attacked, shot on the street, stabbed in the neck, thrown in the trunk. Tell me how much you love your sweet children, tell me again, because I do not believe you.