My Reincarnation from Auschwitz
By Jewelle St. James
I grew up in a happy place embraced by some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Rural British Columbia , with its lush pines poking at the azure sky, and shimmering lakes played host to endless adventures throughout my childhood. Yet at the age of ten, I read a book so scary, it rattled my idyllic world and changed my life forever. The paperback was one of those little pocket books I loved to devour on a summer’s day, lounged on a beach towel by the lake. Reading allowed me to explore other lands, times and lives while remaining safe in my beautiful, slice of the world. But this book distorted that beauty and safety.
I only remember one scene. 1940s Europe . The land was flat and brown. An endless, high, slightly curved barbed wire fence enclosed twiggy-thin prisoners wearing striped clothing, trudging with shoulders hunched and shaved heads bent. Nearby townspeople, risking harsh punishment, tossed marmalade over the fence to the bony, out-stretched hands below. The prisoners shrieked with appreciation as the marmalade sky rained gold from heaven. The scene broke my heart, and my obsession was born.
Years later, I was riveted to the television when black and white newsreels showed mountains of emaciated bodies bulldozed into open pits. The narrator said they were Jews. I hated watching the scenes but felt an odd connection.
Through my teens and early twenties I began noticing unfounded reactions to Jews and Germany . I was a waitress at a busy restaurant and enjoyed a co-worker named Sue. One day, our boss growled at Sue to pick up her order. As she balanced plates of warm pancakes on her arm she muttered, "Dirty Jew.” Suddenly, I felt ill and was glad our boss didn't hear her. I felt ashamed, like the words were directed at me.
I was also drawn to German foods and customs. My husband and I frequented the Black Forest Inn Restaurant near us, and the European deli in town was always a favorite. I wandered the shop breathing in the yeasty, sugary aromas, pausing to examine each European product. I reveled in the sights, sounds and feelings they evoked, fulfilling all my senses. At Christmas, I always bought the Stollen, a German fruit bread topped with thick, white icing. One year, the deli ran out of Stollen. My heart paused and with great effort, I made it to the safety of my car where I burst into tears of frustration. I couldn’t imagine Christmas without Stollen.
Oddly, I also purchased the most gorgeous candlestick in the world for a friend. My husband said it was a Jewish Menorah. I'd never heard of a menorah, but I felt great joy staring at that amazing candlestick.
On Sundays, I placed Strauss’ Blue Danube on the stereo and listened to the bittersweet melody over and over. A friend finally suggested what I already suspected ... I may be remembering a past life.
I was no stranger to past life memories. I spent twenty years researching and exploring a past life in England , and finally wrote a book about it. It was a story of passionate love between me in a former life with a man named John Baron. I found ancient birth records and buildings in Petworth, England substantiating this life from three hundred years ago. Exploring a love story is one thing, but I was frightened out of my mind to delve into a possible life in the Holocaust.
Through an odd coincidence, I found a book in the library written by Rabbi Yonassan Gershom. The book is titled Beyond the Ashes: Cases of Reincarnation from the Holocaust. He told how six million Jews were murdered during World War II and millions of baby-boomers returned en masse, reincarnated with memories and personality quirks just like mine. My God, I was not alone!
I gulped the book in one sitting and felt a heavy veil lifting as if the rabbi wrote the words for me. The book described my entire life. Rabbi Gershom counseled many people who claimed they had memories of the Holocaust. He compared accounts with other analysts and hypnotherapists and noted a common thread through their stories.
He observed that returned victims were born mostly between 1947 and 1953. I came along on February 12, 1953 . Most were of Scandinavian descent. Many were non-Jews and knew nothing of Judaism, yet sustained tastes or habits relating to their Jewish past life. Many experienced olfactory or scent recognition, a psychic experience connecting them to their Jewish past in the Holocaust. I often smelled burning for no reason at all.
The rabbi went on to say that some returnees read magazines and books from back to front, the way Hebrew books are bound.
“Yes, I do that!” I shouted to my quiet apartment. I fit into every category, verifying what my inner self already knew. I was a reincarnated Jew.
Fascinated, I consulted several psychics who all picked up glimpses of a former life in the Black Forest area of Germany . They envisioned my father involved with the underground press and eventually hauled away and killed.
This interested me, so I finally submitted to a past life regression where my own memories tumbled forward. I vividly recalled my family loading onto a train for the death camps. I was spared the gas chambers and death, but only for awhile. I also saw the scene of my death. My clothes hung from my emaciated body with cardboard tied to my feet for shoes. A young lad, forced to join Hitler’s army, hauled me into a dank room at the concentration camp, shouting to me to spill information about my father and the underground press.
During the regression, I could actually feel the weakness of my starved body, and foggy mind. I recognized this young officer as a boy I once loved before the war. He was horrified to hurt me, and instead of beating me with the whip he carried, he shot me quickly in the abdomen. I felt my soul lift from the famished body, and I knew my former love had killed me to save me from a worse fate.
The regression was difficult, yet explained many things from my current life. I now knew that young man reincarnated as Patrick, my teen love in this life. Patrick also died young in a car accident when he was twenty-three. I finally understood our struggles with trust.
I realized it was my destiny to once again write about my own experiences with reincarnation. I finally closed the circle in 2005 when I spent two days at Auschwitz in Poland where I died in that life. Painful memories that dogged this life spewed forth in a torrent of emotion as I toured the barrachs and viewed the Killing Wall. There was that burning smell again. It took me weeks to come out of the stupor, but over time, I healed and felt relief to finally understand my past and reclaim my present self.
I wrote a book about my journey back to Auschwitz titled Jude. By facing the past, I can forgive, move on and enjoy the love and safety of my current life in beautiful British Columbia . I hope my experiences will open the gates for the millions who suffered the same horrific fate in 1940s Europe, so all may heal and celebrate the life they have today.
Jewelle St. James is an author from Canada who has written two books about her experiences with reincarnation. All You Need is Love explores a past life in rural England, and her latest book Jude explains her journey back to a former life during the Holocaust. You can learn more about Jewelle and her books by visiting her website www.jewellestjames.com
from the December 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine