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Never forget

Never forget

I recently read in Reader Forum letter a statement regarding the "Holocaust Theory." I am responding as a memorial to those who died in the Holocaust. There is no theory. The Holocaust happened. I know from my personal and professional experiences that it did. The Holocaust involved mass killings of approximately 6 million Jews, and additional milions of Christians, gypsies and disabled. Evidence of concentration camps can be viewed today including the remains of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

My father's side of the family emigrated to the United States during the early part of the 20th century. One sister came, worked, brought another sister, who worked, who brought a third sister. With the beginning of World War II, the rest of the family were unable to get out and get away from Nazi occupation. I have pictures of family members who were killed in the Holocaust. Later, when I first went to Israel in 1970, I met a relative who was a Holocaust survivor with a branded number on her arm having been in a Nazi concentration camp.

During my many years working as a social worker in a hospital and senior day center in Israel, I worked with Holocaust survivors and their families who having lost entire families during the war, came to Israel, remarried and rebuilt family life from scratch. I heard their personal stories and evidence (numbers on their arms and the telling of their traumas). During the Gulf War when Israeli citizens were issued gas masks as a defense against Saddam Hussein's missles supposedly filled with gas, working in the senior center at the same time, the elder Holocaust survivors at our Center refused to wear their gas masks when the sirens went off warning of an attack. Their explanation: they didn't want to have anything to do with "gas" and they had been in a Nazi concentration camp. What else could be worse? They had survived that and that was enough. The Israeli government has kept an ongoing study on these now elderly survivors on their lives and the intergenerational effects of trauma from the Holocaust experience on families.

I want to tell about one more Holocaust incident. A year ago I received a Fort Hays State University Summer Research Grant to conduct a study with a senior center staff in Petach Tikvah, a Tel Aviv suburb. One day sitting with the elders, one of the ladies began to tell me her Holocaust story. She was a survivor from Auschwitz concentration camp. She was a "patient" of Dr. Joseph Mengele who performed experiments on women including sterilization and shock treatments among other things. She had been a blue eyed, fair skinned, blond young Jewish woman, about 15 years old whom Dr. Mengele had on an examination table as part of a sterilization experiment. He looked at her and smiling told her that he would not sterilize her, that he would allow her to have babies in the future. At the next lineup of women that she was in for him to pick out more women for his experiments, he looked at her, winked and skipped her. She was terrified, and became upset as she told of this incident.

It is important to never forget the Holocaust and never, even out of ignorance or other motivations to deny that the Holocaust took place. Acknowledgement, recognition and discussion instead of denial of this horrific unforgettable historical event is necessary so that there will never be another occurrence. Perpetrators of violence do what they do because they think they can, and they can especially when we, the public and community, remain silent when we see a human injustice. It is silence that contributes to perpetrators creating victims to horror. The Nazi Holocaust happened.

Patricia Levy

Hays