Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Los Angeles Childhood -So We Remember, So We Don't Forget
Thursday, 17 May 2012 21:47
I have been blogging for 15 months now with over 15,000 hits. so thanks to all of you who are following us. I thought I would re-run the most read blog over that time, SO WE REMEMBER, SO WE DON'T FORGET. The runner-up is about Marilyn and me. We will do that one next week.
Soon, I will again be blogging from Paris, the city of light. So stay tuned in around June 13th for 18 days of new visions.

Not all who survived the holocaust were in the Concentration Camps. There were first, second and third generation survivors, Jews, Germans, homosexuals, disabled, and persons different.

In the camps themselves, all personal identity was stripped. No names used, just numbers which as we all know, were tattooed on arms. A badge of dishonor, a badge of isolation, stripping away of all that was taken with clothes, jewels, books, and personal articles as they entered.

I always wondered why I so closely identified with the holocaust survivors. The ones whose photos I saw in Life Magazine. When I look at my childhood photos I am not smiling. "Your mother went away to Chicago on holiday." That's what they told me. How many others who suffered early childhood loss had those photos as children? When did they ever smile? Is it something about losing my navigational force that could protect me? It's like that with your mother when you are two or three or four years old.

I attended a lecture at the Creativity and Madness Conference the beginning of August. One of the speakers talked about the Holocaust and PTSD. Not only those who survived in the camps but the two generations after that. So many children who were hidden while their parents were taken. This is something one never gets over. It's an interior banishing, hearing voices and finally only vapor and dust. Memories tied up in a packet of letters or photographs. Something only left after death takes away the body that was a mother, a father, the aunt, uncle or cousin, brother and sister.

Yet we land on our feet, those of us who have found ways of coping. For me it was the writing.

After the lecture I spoke with Carol Baird, M.A. She spoke about how genealogy can help with treatment and told me about a DNA test I can take to go back five generations on my mother's side and bring up information, perhaps find a living relative who can shed knowledge about my mother's history, her family's history. Although, not medical which would be extremely helpful. There is no way to gain that information. It is just the end of the line.

Later, I saw an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican about the search for Holocaust's displaced kids. About 1,100 photographs photographed by social service agencies across Europe soon after World War II. These photographs have turned up over 65 years later. I was five years old when I saw those photographs from the camps at liberation day. The walking dead I called them. Even then I felt I had some connection to them. If not directly then through cousins, uncles, aunts, family members through a Jewish Consciousness, like many Americans, helpless to stop all this evil.

One person who saw the post-war photo of himself at the age of eight, noted that, "one glance resurrected the pain. It brought me back to a time where I didn't know what was happening to me. I didn't know where I was going or who was going to feed me tomorrow." He had found this post on Facebook. He said, "This is me indeed with more hair and less wrinkles." Some people felt it was a chance to be "reborn." One says he has "a tremendous need to tell people this really happened and it's not ancient history." He adds that the reason he does it, "is because I don't want to forget."

The children find comfort in the fact that they were/are not alone.

I tell my story because I think it is important to bear witness to experiences, to share them. I have spoken to many people who come to my readings and who write to me after reading SAVING MYSELF. They tell me it helps them to not feel so alone and to know that there is at least one other person in the world who has had a similar experience. As the man who continues to tell his story, so do I. I also do not want to forget, and would like to help others to remember.

Thank you for being part of my family and for reading Not Just A Jewish Book Blog.