Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What a way to end the day...

There's something decidedly spooky about walking en mass into a forest with 60 odd people all holding candles at 1 AM.  Besides the local dogs barking their heads off, we were a silent mass of people moving slowly along an unlit dirt path into a dark forest with only our candles to light the way to a place where the impossible happened...in a town not far from Tarnow (where my great grandfather on my Dad's side was born) there is a forest just beyond a residential neighborhood.

We know that almost 100% of Jewish children died in the holocaust. If you were not between the ages of 16 and 40 you were a dead man walking.  Older men and women along with the sick and disabled were sent almost immediately to the gas chambers.  

But what about the children? 

Unless you were lucky to get on a kinder transport or hidden by a non-Jewish family or given to the church, as a child, your chances of survival were virtually non-existent.  In this unassuming town, the Nazis grabbed every child, every baby, every newborn they could drag out of their parents' arms and they shot them dead, dropped them into a massive pit they had dug in the middle of this forest.

There is now, amongst the tall shady trees and the overgrown grass, a matzeva marking this mass grave of children.  No names, no headstones, and no way to possibly know who these children were.  Babies who had barely begun to live - gone in an instant.  

Historians say that most of these Nazis who carried out these types of orders were not 18 year olds. These were officers who had commendations, who were experienced. And who were probably grandparents themselves. 

You can ask yourself over and over again how any man could take the life of a child - taking any life is horrific enough, but there's something viciously evil about taking the life of a child.  But there are no answers.  None at all...

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