Horrific Visions
By Moshe Katz
Israeli Krav International

July 10, 2019, Melbourne, Australia

I am in Melbourne, Australia, from the first moment on the flight I feel the change; happy people, sweet, kind and friendly. I remark to my friendly neighbor on the plane how it is remarkable that mankind can create societies so diverse, some filled with horror and crime, some so peaceful that crime is difficult to imagine. 

But imagine it we must. 

Let us go back in time, it is Lwow (Lvov, Lviv) in Poland. September 1939, 4 am and the war begins. The Jews understand what is coming. All the Jew haters will come out in force, and soon there will be a pogrom, an attack on the Jews for no reason.

A man named Benzion Redner keeps a diary (in Polish). He writes on this day in September 1939, the Jews knew that terrible times were coming...Yet in those times of panic none of us Jews foresaw that even our most horrific visions of the future would turn out to be merely the palest reflection of what would happen later.  (A Jewish Policeman in Lwow, page 22)

Back to the present, I am in the hotel business center, tired after a long journey, a woman walks over and offers me a complementary cup of coffee. How wonderful this world can be. As I am writing these words, she walks over again to ask how the coffee was and if there is anything she can do for me. What a wonderful world it can be when people are kind to strangers. 

She asks me what I am here for. We discuss self defense and she says that here she lives without fear. Our world of violence and hatred seems so far away at the moment. and that is my point. It seems so far away.

Back to 1939, the Redner family and their friends have had a few good years in Lwow. They are relaxed. But several members of the family were more in tune with reality. They have already emigrated to America. After the war they will greet the few survivors of the family in Poland and help them start new lives in the United States. 

June 1941, The Germans occupy Lwow, now the real panic sets in, but it is too late for most. The young couple, Lusiek and Erna Wasserman are killed at once, later they are envied for their quick death. 

The Jews, even the children, understood that the game was over for the Jews, but no one knew just how bad it would be. 

Back to the future, a school principal in Florida, USA, says that the Holocaust is not a fact but a personal opinion. He does not want to make the study of these historic events mandatory. But Benzion Redner kept a diary, as did many others.

We cannot see the future; we cannot know how bad it will be. But we must. 

American General Eisenhower saw the future, as he was among those to liberate the "camps", i.e. the death factories, he said, Boys, take photos of everything, a time will come when people deny this ever happened.

The rabbis say, who is wise? he who sees the future. We are dealing with the perversion, distortion and outright denial of truth as well as the very real threat of violence. 

As much as the Jews of Lwow, even the children, knew that terrible times were coming, their worst nightmares paled in comparison to the truth. From this we must learn; plan for the worst, and then take it a few steps further. Our Krav Maga is based on this idea.

Therefore we must always anticipate the worst, and beyond. We fight only when we have to, we get away when we can. We use only the most basic gross motor moves. We do not rely on those abilities which will not exist under stress.

My new friend asks me to teach her some basic self defense. She understands it at once. The world can be beautiful, but we must prepare for other possibilities as well.