Local

April 13, 2012

Choosing to act: Stories of Rescue

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann

Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust and created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims. Holocaust remembrance week is Sunday through April 22. The theme designated for the 2012 observance is “Choosing to Act: Stories of Rescue.”

The 2012 Days of Remembrance, with events scheduled from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., is Thursday. Stories of rescue presented by guest speakers and book signings will be 9:15 to 11 a.m. at Club Five Six and 1:40 to 3:30 p.m. at the Luke Chapel Annex. A luncheon is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Club Five Six. For more information, call Chaplain (Capt.) Kenya Thomas at (623) 856-6211.

Stories of rescue speakers

Magda Willinger: The Enduring Spirit by Shirley Lebovitz

Born in 1928, Magda Willinger grew up in the small town of Kravalo Nad Tisza of the modern day Czech Republic. Nazi forces invaded the town in 1939. At the age of 15 her father was in one of the first groups to be taken to the concentration camps leaving her mother and two younger sisters to fend for themselves. One morning in 1944 her family woke up to the military surrounding them at gunpoint. They were all put on a train and sent to their first camp. It was a two-day ride with no food or water and 80 to 90 people crammed into each freight car. Her grandmother and baby sisters were sent elsewhere because they were unable to work. They did not realize until later that they were sent off for execution. Willinger became frail due to the lack of food while working at the concentration camp. On three occasions she was put into the extermination line, but her mother always managed to pull her out.

 

Oskar Knoblauch:
A Boy’s Story, A Man’s Memory

Born in 1925, Oskar Knoblauch grew up in Leipzig, Germany. At age 8 his life was shattered by the on-set of Nazism. As the situation in Germany deteriorated it became necessary for him and his mother, father, brother and sister to move to Krakow, Poland. In September 1939 Poland was invaded. The elderly, the young and the sick were the first to be executed. The individuals thought to perform important jobs for the Germans or a service within the ghetto walls were excluded from deportations. Knoblauch signed up for garbage removal and worked every day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. He remembers being covered in ashes from head to toe and inhaling the rotten decomposing garbage mixed with human feces.

 

Harold Minuskin:
My Children, My Heroes —
Memoirs of a Holocaust Mother

Born in 1938, Harold Minuskin grew up in the Polish town of Zhetel, now part of Belarus. At the age of 4 the Germans invaded with the intent of killing all the Jews in his town. He and his mother, father and younger brother survived by escaping into the nearby forest and joining up with the Jewish Partisan resistance fighters. For almost three years they lived in fear, always hiding, without shelter, food, medicine or clothing.

 

Jack Nemerov

Born in 1917, Jack Nemerov grew up in Minneapolis, Minn. He was called to active duty in March 1942. He was among the first wave of soldiers to come ashore at Normandy, the D-Day invasion of June 1944. He was also among the first Americans to enter Dachau Concentration Camp. When they arrived they received vacant looks from those interned there because the soldiers were different from their captors. After convincing the imprisoned group they were Americans, the detainees reached out to touch their uniforms then grabbed them by the arms and wept. The sight of deceased bodies and “walking skeletons” of those just barely alive are forever tattooed on his mind.




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