Tonight we had a Community Civil Forum at Saddleback Church. They invited 4 holocaust survivors and one daughter of a survivor. Hearing their stories of pain, lost, suffering, and ultimately survival was amazing. To hear how a thoughtless decision, a hair color, or unexpected kindness effected whether they lived or died.
Along with their stories of survival are stories of great cruelty. One lady's sister was taken by Dr. Josef Mengele for experiments. She also tells seeing chimney's burning is Auschwitz and not knowing what they were. At one point they even thought they were baking bread to give to them. Her naivete saved her spirit in those moments from being completely crushed.
For me these stories were of a time long past. An unimaginable hatred. Seen through 50 years of processing and lots of counseling (as one lady stated). For them... it is the worse time of their life. The faces of those wanting them dead haunt them. I wonder if they saw evil himself in those faces?
When asked about forgiveness one survivor shared that she just puts herself in the place of the Nazis at the time. She cannot say whether she would have had the strength to save some Jews or not. But she also shared how this experience made her think that after people seeing such hatred and evil, they would stop killing. She shared how as she looks at pictures of a mother and child sitting on the ground in Darfur, she thinks... that is me.
Great questions and an amazing evening of insight. What a privilege to experience this. I think I need to watch Schindler's List again... and remember. Also one of the ladies was in the behind the scenes footage.