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Witness to the Dark: A Testimony of Survival
Tekijä: Wolf Holles
Ei tämänhetkisiä Keskustelu-viestiketjuja tästä kirjasta.
This book tells the story of a young boy and his family, before their persecution and until the end of the horror, survivors of the camp...
Flash back to 1933 which marks the sordid advent of Hitler who became Chancellor, and for whom, the thunderous voice - and yet devoid of education, apart from artistic - of this little man - doubtless himself born of a Jew who had abandoned them - becomes the only political membership to follow.
The mentality of the German people, anxious to follow the "little leader" with the sonorous voice, hastens to radically modify its ideas, and quickly stigmatize the Jew...
The family of this very young boy then leaves his country, in order to find safety in Holland. It was a waste of time, anti-Semitism pursued them wherever they went: 1938 dashed their hopes when the order was given to annihilate all the Jews of Europe!
1940 sees the Netherlands at war with Hitler. Then the country is invaded by the Nazi oppressor, shamefully supported by the police and the Dutch Civil Service!
1941 is the high point! The Jews are arrested and snatched by whole families, by trains, their accounts blocked.
1942 forced them to wear the sad yellow star of David. They are banned from all cultural events, and live apart, holed up like caged animals.
The child who remembers these perpetual humiliations at an age which should normally be serene, is devastated.
They are finally officially made prisoners in a transit camp, before integrating another one, and this, while awaiting their deportation to the camp of Bergen-Belsen.
Crescendo, until 1945, their conditions become so inhuman that it is impossible for us to apprehend them! Deadly diseases like typhus stalk them, unsanitary conditions, frost and nights on the ground on the straw... when it's not the guy next door who loot them to eat!
The cruel and unspeakable truth with which they are confronted gradually annihilates their will.
A window opens however in the heart of their chaos, with the next arrival of help. We are looking for them. But they must once again travel in one of the twelve trains... Theirs will be the "lost" train, the one en route to Czechoslovakia... so that none can testify.
A powerful book! One of the holocaust survivors recounts his survival, and what he saw and experienced is unimaginable!
A staggering observation comes to close this painful and staggering confession: "The world has understood nothing"...
The Jews always remain the target of potential attacks, always unjustly accused...In the image of Christ...
- Rumors die hard, they say at home! -
Shocking and unbearable! A memory that smashes and dismays us...
So that no one can forget... And never do it again!
Like all books of this nature, it feels incomplete. Because it is. Because we know this is just one story among millions of stories. It leaves us wanting to search out other stories, more accounts, more history. More historical places and the testimonies of those who have dwelt there. And that is a good thing. It keeps us going deeper into our own history, into humanity itself, and seeing what lies there so that, perhaps, in some way, we can avoid actually going there again (although some days, that seems unlikely given the current state of our culture and public/political rhetoric).
The reading is actually rather quick, but to take this book to heart slows the reader down some. As it should.
As the end of World War II approached, efforts were made at many Nazi concentration camps to destroy records and either to murder the remaining prisoners or to transfer them elsewhere. This was in response to SS instructions that no prisoners should be found when Allied troops arrived. The death marches are infamous, but less well known is that there were also many transfers by train. These transports were frequently conducted from within the camps themselves. When the Allied armies smashed beyond the Rhine and began slicing into central Germany, in early April 1945, three trains left Bergen-Belsen. One reached its destination in Theresienstadt. The second was liberated by the Americans at a village near Farsleben in Germany. The last of the three transports, the one we were on, was the last train to leave Bergen-Belsen. It never reached its destination. Our train contained about twenty-five hundred Jews -- men, women, and children -- and a group of armed SS guards. We were all loaded into forty-five railway cars. Some were passenger cars and some were typical antiquated freight cars called forty and eights, signifying that these cars would accommodate forty men or eight horses. I was thirteen years old when I climbed with my mother and two brothers onto this train. The armed SS guards, striding around the platform, kept motioning for the prisoners to move, yelling over the noise of truck engines, Vorwärts! Schneller! Move it! Faster! Get it moving! Get it moving! The question on everyones lips was Where are we going?
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Wolf Holles tells the story in a straightforward manner. The writing is easy to read although the story being told is not. He makes it clear what his life was like, through the good early years followed by the difficulties under occupation, to the horrors of life in a concentration camp. I had never heard of the lost train before, and the story is an important addition to the tales told by holocaust survivors. Given current events, it is more important than ever that we never forget what happened then, so that it can never happen again. Highly recommended. ( )