Sunday, April 27, 2014

Remembering....Yom Hashoah 2014

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Robert Waisman

I am pretty sure that the smiling young man at the back right of the above photo is my father.It was taken at the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) children's home in Ecouis, France in 1945.

I found this picture with the assistance of Professor Ken Waltzer, who contacted me after reading my blog post about visiting the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, and getting my father's records from Buchenwald.

Prof. Waltzer helped me understand the records (which are in German) and even provided information about my father's time in Buchenwald based on his extensive research and on something that Arthur said my father told him:  Just before the liberation the Germans were running through the camp looking for Jews.  As they got to the bunk where my father was the Nazi soldier asked the first person he saw - someone political - whether there were Jews there. The prisoner replied that there were no more Jews left in the bunk and the soldier left.  My father survived and was liberated by the Americans.

My father was one of eight children of Frimet (Weisel) and Avraham Fruchter. His parents and four of his siblings, including his twin sister, Charna, were killed at Auschwitz. His two oldest siblings as well as another older sister and he survived the war. None of them really spoke about the war or their experiences and none of them are here anymore to answer questions.Their history went to the grave with them. 

Tomorrow morning, when the siren sounds throughout Israel, I will think of my father and his family, those who survived the Nazis and those who did not.  

יהי זכרם ברוך.


Baila said...

That was beautiful...

kenwaltzer said...

Hello Fern,

Majer Fruchter, prisoner no. 58394 at Buchenwald, deported April 26, 1944 from the ghetto in Akna Slatina,and then selected for work at Auschwitz-Birkenau, arrived at Buchenwald June 6, 1944. On June 17, 1944, he was sent to Magdeburg, but he was returned to the base camp Buchenwald probably in August, at which time he was placed in block 23, a new Jewish block headed by veteran Jewish prisoner staff who were part of the underground conspiracy to save and protect youths. It is not clear where he was in the camp in the subsequent months, although if he was in block 23, he would have left it on April 4, when Jewish prisoners were told to line up at the appelplatz, or he might have been transferred earlier than that. My guess is he went down the hill at Buchenwald to block 66. There, the block elder that protected the boys was Antonin Kalina, who was recently awarded Righteous status by Yad Vashem. Many boys tell the story of SS guards coming to the barrack to find Jewish boys who didn't report, from where the guards were turned away by Kalina, who said there were no Jews here.

Ken Waltzer
Michigan State University