Monday, January 27, 2014

International Holocaust Memorial Day - Never Forget Rachel and Esther

Today is the Holocaust Memorial Day designated by the UN, who got around to doing so only in 2005 (?!).

January 27 1945 is the day Soviet forces liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp.

These photos show the families of two of my great-aunts, Rachel and Esther, murdered by the Nazis and their local helpers.

These photos were taken not long before the outbreak of World War II, when relatives overseas were trying to persuade the family still in Zlochev, Poland (today Ukraine) to leave because they feared that war was coming to Europe.

Esther and Rachel declined because they were both pregnant at the time and didn't want to travel while pregnant.

When war broke out they tried to get out but discovered that there was nowhere to run to and no way out. The babies they bore were murdered along with the parents and older children in Belzac death camp.

If you live somewhere where people are claiming that the Holocaust didn't happen, I want you to take a long hard look at these photos of real people - mothers, fathers and young children - who were murdered by the Nazis simply because they were Jews. Two entire families wiped out solely because they were Jewish.

They were not civilians caught in the crossfire, collateral damage, their deaths were orchestrated by a deliberate Nazi killing machine whose aim was to destroy every Jewish man, woman and child, just because they were Jews. Their deaths were the aim of a Nazi leadership which went to great effort in setting up a complex system of ghettos, concentration camps and death camps to murder these Jewish civilians.

These photos show the great-aunts, great-uncles and cousins I never had the chance to know. Today these children would be in their 70s and early 80s, grandparents, probably great-grandparents, a whole line of the family gone with no survivors or direct descendents, erased from the world as if they had never existed but for a few photos enclosed in letters to my grandparents.