Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gram, on behalf of the world, we thank you

I would like to thank my Grandma Alice for her great sacrifice in helping to save many Jews from the wickedness of the Holocaust. Gram, along with her parents, helped smuggle Jews from Denmark to Sweden. They participated in the resistance against Germany. They tapped the Nazi lines and learned about who was "next." They then risked their lives to help get people out. I grew up hearing stories around the dinner table by Gram and GG about the war. I never fully understood the impact of these INCREDIBLE HEROS. I would like the world to know that my Grandma is a wonderful lady. She is classy, elegant,driven, dedicated, determined, a spiritual giant and follows her heart. She knows what is innately good, and acts on it despite road blocks.

The other night as I was brushing my teeth I couldn't help but think if I had lived in 1944. Would I be rationing my toothpaste or would I use a full amount because it may be my last night to live?

This past week I was able to attend the Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum) this was such a humbling experience. After studying the horror and terrors of these poor people in my Jewish class we went to the museum to learn more. I couldn't help but weep there.

The things that were hardest for me to see at the Holocaust Memorial was the shoes. They had this big pile of shoes from when the prisoners would take of their clothes, enter the "shower" (gas chamber) and then be taken to the crematory. Another thing that was heart wrenching was a continual picture that began with a man happy, plump and with family. Then it shows him being taken to a concentration camp by train. Then he is digging a grave. Next he is being shot and falls into the grave he just dug. It was horrible. This made me weep.

There were a lot of film clips showing the ghettos filled with poverty and starvation. I was so proud of the section that honored the Danes resistance and being the first country to stand against the persecution. Another room that made me tear up was a room filled with lists of people that had been killed. As I went up to it the first name I saw was a girl age 23 named Emilie, spelled exactly like mine. It was so humbling to think what if it had been me. I cannot imagine walking to my death and signing my name off the list as I enter the gas chamber.

There was a special "Children's Memorial" for the 1 million children that were killed. You walk down into a dark room that is shaped like a gas chamber. Inside were 6 candles lit (one for each million of people that died) then it was surrounded by mirrors. It gave the appearance of a galaxy of lights. It was beautiful, yet so humbling. It is unfathomable to comprehend how many died.

A few of my thoughts while going through the center:

1. I am so grateful for my grandparents and great-grandparents in standing up for God's children despite the terrible opposition they faced. They made many great sacrifices in order to do what truth requires. I am honored to have learned of their heroic stories in helping with the resistance.

2. I think I would have rather died than survive a continual nightmare. I don't know how people, after being in a concentration camp, carried on with their lives. Where did they go? They no longer had a home, family, or respect. I wouldn't know how to cope with the pain and agony after the war.

3. Would I have become bitter or hard-hearted towards God? Where was God when 6 million people were slaughtered? I understand that God has to allow others their agency, but at what point can he step in and stop the sinners as he did with the flood or mixing up the languages during the Tower of Babel. How much more wicked can people get? I am scared for the future it will only be worse.

4. Why weren't other countries stepping in to help? Perhaps because it was so secretive and most did not know what was happening, especially without the modern communication technologies that we have today. Or perhaps because of fear/danger of what they may step into. But I guess the same question can be posed to you and I. Why are we being ignorant to the things occurring right now in Africa and other countries?

5. I don't understand why the Jews are persecuting the Palestinians for their belief and their lands. You would think they would be more open and trying not to repeat the history of oppression. This perplexes me.

This experience was a sobering one. It made me realize how blessed I am. I can never complain again. I have no trials or hardships in comparison, my life is so petty.

Tonight as you brush your teeth, thank Heavenly Father for the life he has given you!

"Remember, only that I was innocent and, just like you, mortal on that day, I, too, had had a face marked by race, by pity, and joy, quite simply, a human face!"

Benjamin Fondane (murdered at Auschwitz 1944)


  1. what a bittersweet experience. i can't imagine living back then either, especially in europe. my danish grandma and great-grandparents were open hearted and helped out the jews back then too. here's to a great heritage and hoping to keep them proud and uphold there name and faith!

  2. Emilie! What are you up to? I just found your blog, and it looks like you are not in the it a trip or are you living over there? What a great experience! We just had our baby boy on Valentine's Day, so life is kind of crazy here. Hope to hear from you soon!