This my last blog in 2021. It is a sad one and it summarises my Autumn. I am making a full stop. My novel “ Why didn’t they leave?” is about the painful 20th century history, The Holocaust, emigration, totalitarian system.
I am now writing a different book, not about Holocaust. It might even be funny.
My son bought an old book in a second-hand bookstore in Prague. The book- “Small Fortress in Theresienstadt ” was published in 1950 in Czech in Prague.
The book my son bought was written only 5 years after Theresienstadt was liberated . It is written in a simple journalistic style, without emotion. It is a testimony.
Of course, the book was published at the height of Stalinism, and there is a lot of communist Stalinist propaganda, mainly in the introduction and summary.
1950. My mother and grandmother by then stopped hoping that some relatives might still be alive. They never said “ they were murdered” they used to say :
“They didn’t come back”
The book was shocking.
The description of torture, murder with the aim to make the death as painful as possible, the cruelty … It was almost unbearable to read.
Beating, making prisoners starve, humiliating torture, prisoners dying a slow painful death…
It would be awful to read even if it wasn’t personal.
For me, it is personal, my grandfather and my mother’s brother died there, my uncle being beaten to death by the SS. He was only 20 years old.
The cruelty was unbelievable. Making prisoners kill each other, starving them for 3 days, then giving them very salty soup to eat and no water for another 3 days, killing them by beating and kicking, the atrocities go on and on. The commander killing a bleeding prisoner lying on the ground by stepping at his neck, with the spine crunching under his boot…
I almost stopped reading; it was too upsetting. I went for a walk to look at the Stolpersteine we put in the pavement in front of the house my family used to live before their deportation to Theresienstadt.
One of my grandson was named after my grandfather. So there is now another Benno. A happy one year old boy who will hopefully never encounter the antisemitism and violence his great- grandfather., He will be happy, equal and would be told about people being equal, and will not see the hate, discrimination, that is unfortunately still happening in some parts of our world.
He won’t see war, and the family history in 1938-1945, or even in the postwar years till 1989 will be just like a nightmare that will never happen again.
He won’t get into a situation when his grandson will wonder why his grandparents didn’t he leave. No member of my family will ever need to ask that question.
The names on the Stolpersteine are there to remind us. The names of those cruel SS guards should be forgotten. Or maybe not? NEVER AGAIN, we say. Let’s hope we are right,