It was a day of sorrow, a day of remembrance and a day for those who survived the Holocaust to speak to benches full of people at the B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville, Maryland. Music played in the background as attentive congregrants listened to the memoirs of those that went through the early 1940’s massacre.
“We were incarcerated, with barbed wire, with machine gun towers…” Manny Mandel, a Holocaust survivor explained,”the food was terrible, the conditions were a bit difficult. I got some kind of double pnemonia and I needed antibiotics. We had none. We had thirty five doctors in the group but nothing to treat with.”
Mandel is fortunate enough to be alive today to tell the horrific tale of what is considered to be the worst genocide in human history.
He said he was too young to even realize that the conditions he described weren’t normal. He added that it wasn’t until he was freed that he noticed the severity of how badly people were being treated.
Josianne and Alred Traum, husband and wife and holocaust survivors, also shared their account of their tragedies.
“I was fortunate to be born in Belgium because Belgium was kind to its Jews…” cried Josianne, Jossy, Traum as she remembered her mother who was sent to Aushwitz, a labor concentration camp.
“My mother did what she could for me. During the Holocaust the Nazis would torture people until they found out where the Jews were hiding and to prevent people from speaking out no one would be told where their kids or family went,” Jossy said.
It was the immense love of her mother that forced her to give Jossy away to nuns to be protected while she worked away in the awful conditions of the concentration camps. This gesture of incredible love was never forgotten by her daughter.
Jossy said her mother was on a death march when the Russians finally came to save her mother at the end of World War II and thanks to the help of the Allies, Jossy and her mother were reunited. Jossy added that her mother lived to be about 101 years old before recently passing away.
Jossy’s husband Alfred has a different story. He was sent away to London by his parents who told a young Alfred he was just going for an adventure.
“I knew it wasn’t true…” Alfred recalled, ” I knew I was never going to see them again…and I never did.”
These are just some of the countless stories of those who survived the terrible murder ordered by German dictator Adolf Hitler.
Some of the other survivors gathered in large numbers at the Congregation to support one another and honor the souls of those who suffered tremendously at the heels of evil.
Jossy says that she hopes that history will not repeat itself, giving the recent attacks on places of worship.
“I am scared. It may not happen in the same extent that it happened to me, but it’s a scary thought,” concluded Jossy Traum.