I was talking online to my granddaughter Arianna yesterday. She loves school, and for that I am grateful. I loved school, too. I attended many of them during my schoolyears and even once went to school in a skating rink (our school in Savannah had burned to the ground). Arianna told me that they are reading To Kill a Mockingbird in English Lit and how much she is enjoying it. I asked her if she had read The Diary of Anne Frank and she said no. I was shocked, as it was required reading in my class at Our Lady of Victory in Washington, DC. It was not, however, how I first learned of the Holocaust.
I was twelve years old and we lived in Cleveland, Ohio. Our neighbors 2 doors down were the Silvers. I was friends with their daughter Regina and frequently was a guest in their home. We played card games with Mrs Silver and it was she who taught us to play Rummy 500. One day when I was there Dr. Silver came home and was so excited he was actully shouting as he came in the door, yelling for "Mama". "Mama Mama, are you here?" He ruffled mine and Gina's hair as he rushed by us, looking for his wife. He called her "Mama" and she called him "Papa". His voice was filled with excitement and something I only identified as justification years later. I heard the name Eichman mentioned and that he had been captured by the Israeli's Mossad and was now being held for trial. Mrs Silver came in and sat down with a whoomph on the feather sofa between Gina and me. She turned her wrist over and gently stroked the numbers and letters inked permenently there on that pale skin. Gina had told me some time ago that her parents had been in the Concentration Camp Treblinka and had been freed at the end of the war by American troops.
There were many war criminals to be held up to public scrutiny and put on trial at Nuremburg but many still who escaped justice. One of them was Otto Adolph Eichmann. And that was what was causing all the excitement in the Silver household. This cruel man had finally been found in South America and was going to finally face the victims who were still living and hopefully pay the price for ones who did not. My eyes kept going to the tattoo on Mrs Silver's wrist. She took my hand and laid my fingers on the ugly block of ink. "Never again we pray..." she whispered.
When we moved to DC one of the books we were required to read was "The Diary of Anne Frank" and I was mesmerized because finally I understood a bit of what the Silvers had been through. A very little bit, but I would learn more as I grew up. I was haunted by that turned wrist and the anguish in the eyes of a friend's mother. Here is a short history of one of the cruelest men to ever draw breath...Otto Adolf Eichmann was a German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organisers of the Holocaust. Eichmann was charged by SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich with facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe during World War II. In 1960, he was captured in Argentina by the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. Following a widely publicised trial in Israel, he was found guilty of war crimes and hanged in 1962.
Last week was the 70th anniversary of the discovery and freeing of the prisoners left alive in the camps of Auschwitz, Treblinka, camps to numerous to list here. Lest we forget...