The other day, one of my sons commented on an article about a remarkable old lady, a Holocaust survivor. This was somebody who emigrated in 1938 to Palestine. She spent the war there, married another Jewish émigré who later joined the British army.
“It is a nice article, but she is not really a Holocaust survivor, is she?”
We talked about it. At first, I agreed. She was one of the lucky ones, her emigration prevented her being sent to a concentration camp and likely get killed.
Maybe she is a “Holocaust refugee”. Is there such a term?
But I have been thinking about my relatives who managed to emigrate before the war. I was thinking about the grief of my American relatives in 1945 searching through the Red Cross for the people that stayed behind. The survivors’ guilt, the shock and sadness when they found out not only that their loved ones died, but how they died.
It left a big mark.
I am a daughter of a Holocaust survivor. My mother was 18 when she came back in 1945. She lost her father, brother, grandmother, many other relatives. The damage never left her. I have many friends who come from similar background, the second generation. Even we felt the damage. Of course, we are not Holocaust survivors, but I think maybe the others, the once lucky enough to escape are. They carried the damage, too.
And comparing victimhood in a competitive fashion is stupid. The “ My family suffered more than yours did.”