Wednesday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. I take the liberty now to share with you my experience. I just finished writing my autobiography wherein I deal with the subject in greater detail. I encourage you to watch a documentary made by the Israeli television about how I survived the second world war here is the VIDEO.
I was five years old. I remember my mother crying as she was stitching the yellow Jewish star onto all our clothes.
I remember walking from the Jewish ghetto to the concentration camp, a long walk for a five-year-old. We all walked, the entire Jewish community in Macedonia which traces its existence there back to the time of Alexander the Great of Macedon.
The concentration camp had been a tobacco factory. At the space where tobacco was put to dry, we were now supposed to live.
Once a day bean soup was served. It consisted mostly of water. I used to cry from hunger. My grandmother would give me her portion saying, “Eat Izzy (my nickname) I am old. I will die soon anyway.“
Starving, I tried to find food. Eventually, I found food in a small water fountain which had some gold fish in it. I tried to catch one of the fish to eat, but a Bulgarian fascist who cooperated with the Nazis interfered by hitting me, a five-year-old child, in the face with the butt of his gun. From that incident, I become crossed eyed and since there was no treatment for Jews during the war, I lost sight in my left eye.
I remember my grandparents who showed a lot of affection for me since I was their first and only grandson. I remember how they were shoved onto a train with my aunts, uncles and even my cousins who were also just my young age.
After the war, we found out they had been shipped to Treblinka. Only recently I found out how they died. They were taken off the train to a building that was sealed up. Gas fumes from an automobile were pumped in. They lost conscience but did not die. Then, half alive, they were piled on top of each other like logs. Gasoline was poured all over them and then a fire was started. The fire lasted for days as they were left burning alive.
When I visited Treblinka sixty years later to pray for their souls, I found that the ground in that place is still black from that same fire. I picked up a small, blackened stone, or is it a piece of bone, and said the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead. I said goodbye to my family – but not for ever. I have requested, when I die, to be cremated and to have some of my ashes spread there. I wish to join them.
I survived, with my parents, by hiding in Albania, which is another story to be told. For years, as a child, until I reached Israel, I used to faint without any warning or reason while walking to or from school. Most of my adult life, I have eaten even when I was not hungry. Somehow, I fear being hungry…
All this suffering and more, because we were Jews. No other reason.
I wonder when and how this hatred of the Jewish people will ever stop? Thousands of years of persecution. Pogroms. Inquisitions. Why?
We (Jews) have and continue to contribute so much to the world in art, science, literature, you name it. Why?
Why do I still feel, even today, fear of what might happen to my children and descendants as I witness the continued and growing hatred of the Jews starting with the radical Muslim world.
When will be allowed to have a small corner of the world where we can feel safe?
Ichak Kalderon Adizes
(Kalderon is my grandparent’s name)
A story of Adizes family remembrance… (click to view)