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The Two Types of Survivors
By Daniel Vahab
As a journalist who has wrote for prominent Jewish publications, I have interviewed several Holocaust survivors and came to the consensus that there are two types of survivors: those who become extremely religious, and those that totally denounce religion, and have a short-temper and are bitter and rarely have a sense of humor. The latter will never buy a German car because he’s not OK with the fact that the same assembly line used to make that BMW was used to kill Jews. He also won’t do interviews with newspapers that have a word limit because his story cannot be told right without more words and without the graphic details needed to demonize the perpetrators regardless of whether editors deem it to harsh for readers. When he speaks at synagogues on his experience, you won’t see a dry eye in the crowd. Nor will you hear a pin-drop. Most of his comrades are dead or dying they are so old and he agrees to speak so that the next generation doesn’t forget and doesn’t let history repeat itself, and in the same facet, intervenes whenever there is discrimination.
I don’t attempt to condemn either type of survivor. They have their reasons and that is final. And the pain they share, the horror they have witnessed of mans inhumanity to man, accounts for their sharp memory and many sleepless nights and a constant headache that even the strongest vodka cannot cure and no amount of time either can heal the wounds. If you ask the survivor what kept him alive, why he was spared, he will tell you it was sheer luck, that he could have easily been part of the millions of victims that faced a terrible death.
They have seen vultures run amuck; they have seen rape and murder of their loved ones; they have seen how words spoken with conviction and authority, and followed by orders can move ordinary men to become monsters and commit brutal acts.
Some of them had changed their names once they immigrated to America in an attempt to hide their Jewish identity, feeling they are worthless from the years of propaganda spewed on them. And only later, once they are successful, and see how their race as a whole has prospered, do they embrace their heritage proudly again.
The struggle to rid the world of hate continues; it’s a fight that must not be ignored for even in the most peaceful and benign times, there is lingering hate. Today’s terrorists thrive on fear, and there is no negotiating with them because a compromise entails give-and-take but that is impossible with them. They must be stamped-out with an iron-first.
from the July 2009 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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