Warning; this post contains graphic details which might offend some peeps.. jus sayin’..
I watched a documentary recently about the holocaust called “A Long Way Home.” I thought I understood pretty much what happened from 1945-1948, but I was wrong. not that ANYONE could ever UNDERSTAND a horror like that.. but this documentary was not about what occurred during the holocaust, it presented the struggle the Jews had once it was all over.
to have survived the atrocity of the Nazi's only to think they were finally free but discovering in the weeks that followed they were not, must have been devastating. the world was in shock when it discovered what the Nazi's had done. but once the Jews were freed, they slowly began to realize they had no place to go.
the military allies who rescued them were not prepared for the unending insurmountable emotional, psychological, and physical needs the people had. who could be, really.. they were overwhelmed and had no training for such a situation and reacted the only way they knew how. they treated them kindly, but with a scheduled regimen the military had them follow in order to keep routine and order.
the Jews were taken away in trucks and trains to surrounding towns and cities. they had to rehouse them in shifts because there were too many to take everyone at once. every where they went, the Jews were looked down upon as if they were garbage. they were filthy, penniless, hungry, injured, weak, and homeless.
no jobs were given to them, as society didn’t want to know of the horrors they’d lived through. it was too painful and no one wanted to have any part of it. it went so far as the Jews being killed in groups by townspeople with notes threatening to do the same to those who didn’t leave. here they thought their nightmare was over, but for the next few years, it wasn’t. many Jews were gathered and taken back to the same death camps they came from and made to live there amongst the nightmares that haunted them.
they felt unwanted, they felt they had no home to return to. politicians became involved, trying to defend the Jews and attempting to get Palestine to share their land as it had originally belonged to the Jews back in the day. they refused and wouldn’t budge no matter what politicians tried, to change their minds.
eventually, the Jews were carted off in trains and buses and ships to be dropped off on a few islands in Greece which were unpopulated except for some aborigine tribes. they stuck together to survive and paired themselves up with other Jews whom they thought they could get along with and were married. it became about survival, not about love.
they barely new one another but shared a deep thread of commonality no one else would or could ever understand- they survived the death camps. this was the one string that held them together as a people. however, despite or maybe because of all they had been through in the hands of the Germans, they were not about to let displacement extinguish their hope.. not after everything they did just to survive.
when asked by a rare visit from an American reporter as they were crammed on top of one another in stench and filth in the ships, “what kept them going… amidst all the strife they had been through, how did they retain their hope?” one brave woman held her new baby up and replied it was in the name of their children. everything they had done to survive was for their children.
it took several years but eventually Palestine was forced into giving the Jews their land back and the country became a two-state country… the Palestine on one side of the enormous wall that was built, with the Jews on the other. and that is what they still fight over today.. land. my story has a point and now I can get to it. thanks for making it this far, I didn’t mean to give a history lesson..
when I first became a nurse, I worked on a med/surg. floor. I had a patient that I took care of several times in my two years there, named David Rosenthal. his wife was named Rosa. I will never forget them. they were holocaust survivors, and in their 70’s 12 years ago. they met when she was 13 and he was 15 in Austria. they met in a farmer’s underground dirt hole beneath the earth that was a sanctuary for the Jews to hide from the Nazi's.
they survived because of the generosity of the farmer who dropped potatoes and water when he could for them. David and Rosa told me many stories, when ever he’d be my patient… they met in that hole, and have never spent one night apart since. they have never had one single argument because she said she would agree to what ever his wishes were, and he did the same. they clung to each other desperately, as they shared the same history.
both had lost their entire families to the crematories and had escaped somehow when the train was being loaded.. they lived in that underground hole for nearly a year. once freed, they immigrated to America and settled in NY then Chicago. they raised their family there and had many children, raising them with all the knowledge they possessed about their younger years of survival and what little family history they remembered.
Mr. Rosenthal had prostate and bladder cancer. that is why he would be admitted to the hospital frequently. he was 6 foot 4 in. and Rosa was petit at 4 foot. they were so cute together. I loved them. they have always been my favorite patients in my whole career of nursing. when we had time, or while I was doing my rounds, we talked constantly.
they showed me their stamped/tattooed death camp ID numbers on the inside of their wrists. I touched them softly, in great reverence for what they stood for, in my mind. his physician came in for an irrigation procedure as Mr. Rosenthal was bleeding severely via his urethra. this dr. inserted an instrument that made me silently gasp as it was large in diameter and long.
with it, he “cleaned out” the inside of his bladder and pulled out tissue, then stuck another catheter in to rinse everything out till it came back clear. I thought I was going to faint. I had tears rolling down my cheeks as I held Mr. Rosenthal's hand. Rosa held his other and that man stared quietly at the ceiling without flinching or muttering a word. he didn’t even blink. it was almost like he was in a trance, but Rosa talked softly to him telling him it was nearly over.
the procedure was a very rough one and I understood the dr. had to do it to stop the bleeding, but I will never in my life experience such intense stoic bravery again. when the dr. left I was babbling my sympathies for the procedure and Mr. Rosenthal said, “not to worry, this is nothing. I have been through much worse than this.” all I could do was cry and THEY both comforted ME. it should have been the other way around.
I kept them in my prayers for the longest time. they showed me what the human will to survive is. I cant even begin to imagine living under those conditions, that pain of separation from loved ones, and the ghastly horror they must have felt and seen. when ever I see anything that references to the holocaust, I always think of them and smile…
[I’m going to be real honest here and share summit I haven’t ever before…] then I weep for what they and their people endured many years ago. when I do, I fill up with empathy on the inside, to a degree which could lift me off the ground but of course doesn’t, and all I want to do is hold everyone in my arms and take their pain and suffering away. I have never understood this.. but when I was a little girl, I had these episodes of feeling just like that, when I saw the eyes of a hurting soul… and I truly believed in my heart then, that if I could just hold that person they would be ok.
I mean, the feeling I am talking about was so powerful in intensity that I could hardly contain it.. and I thought for sure every one could see the light/energy or whatever it was- that I felt, as if it was emerging from all of my orifices. throughout my life, I can tell you several stories of this feeling happening to me, and was led to helping someone. ah yes, that would be another post, as this one is so long already.
this was kind of painful to write. but I felt I had to.
in memory of the Rosenthal’s and each and every one who was either killed or survived during the holocaust. what a FUCKING waste of humanity.. who knows how the world would be different now with 6 million more souls in it? it doesn’t matter which people it is, persecution is the same all around.