August 12, 2016, Mitzpe Nevo, Maaleh Adumim, Israel
A friends' father passed away.
The obituary began A Holocaust survivor, fighter in the Israeli armed forces, premier teacher of thousands of adults and young people in Judaics, my father of blessed memory departed this world with the crown of a good name. May his deeds continue to inspire and his memory be an eternal blessing.
Today we call them "Witness" rather than Survivor. They say no one really survived in tact...no one ever left the death camps.
The hungry, the tired, the war is over. But is it? Or is it just a new phase.
The barbed wire remains, the towers remain, but now they are just symbols. The gate is open, a man is wearing his "Zebra" outfit, his prisoner uniform. He is told not to tell anyone he is Jew. Tell people you were a Political prisoner...the war is not yet over. La guerre n'est pas finie says the man echoing the words of the Greek.
How does one just walk out? Liberated? really? no home to go to, no country welcomes you, in reality the gates are still locked.
Do not tell anyone who you are, they do not want to know. This is for your benefit. Ç'est mieux pour vous. (as a survivor was told...)
He was a Holocaust survivor, say no more. I already respect him. I already know him a little. The gates are flung open but where are you to go? With a shattered body and soul, stripped pajamas and tattered shoes, where are you to go, and how?
The world is so empty, your friends and family are gone, they left the only way one could leave...through the chimney. Where to now?
Years later, an old man with an accent, an immigrant. Who knows his story, who cares. What secrets is he keeping? A Survivor, that is all we need to know. The gate is open but where to now?
He walks out, but to where? no one is there to greet him, no home awaits him.
Now he is 90 and passing from this world. He walked out of the camps and built a life, gave to others, created a family but always, always the pain was with him. The open gate, tattered shoes, hunger and cold.