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Zeide, Did You Cry?

Zeide, Did You Cry?

My grandfather's gradual descent to Auschwitz.

by

Zeide, I'm sorry I never met you. My father tells me you were kind. You lived for your family and treated your children like precious jewels. Everyone in your town knew that they could count on you for whatever they might need. You learned Torah at every chance. Your love of God was inspiring.

You always had a smile on your face, but that changed in 1938. Your hair turned white. Your hands started to shake and your smile left your face, never to be seen again. But Bubby said you didn't cry.

In 1938, you were fired from your position as a university professor because you were a Jew. Having no way to earn money, you got a job as a packer in the local market. Sometimes you weren't able to put food on the table, but Bubby said you didn't cry.

In 1939, pogroms were a daily occurrence. You and your family were unable to come and go as you pleased. You were terrified that any day you or one of your sons might be taken as you snuck off to shul. But Bubby said you didn't cry.

In 1941 having decided to leave, you tried to get the money together for you and your family. There was no one from whom you could borrow. You would have to wait and save which would take years, but Bubby said you didn't cry.

In 1942 you sold the gold menorah that your zeide had given to you. Even with that money combined with what you had saved, you had only enough to send two of your children out of Europe. You could not choose, and decided that all of you would stay together, even though you heard stories of Jews being taken daily, never to be heard from again. Bubby said you didn't cry.

In 1943 you were forced into a ghetto. You could not come or go. There was no food. None of the sick were allowed to leave and none of the dead were allowed to be taken out. Bubby said you didn't cry.

In 1944 you and your family were dragged into the streets. You stood there for two days, without food or water. You were thrown into the cattle cars like animals. You arrived at Auschwitz and were separated from your wife and daughter. You stood in line and watched as your sons went to the right, while you were sent to the left. You kissed your sons for the last time and told them to be strong. You marched into the gas chambers and heard the tortured cries of your fellow Jews.

As you took your last breath to say the Shema, Zeide did you cry?

Published: April 22, 2006


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Visitor Comments: 40

(37) Anonymous, November 24, 2012 11:53 PM

A letter to Hitler

This author wrote another article in 2002, titled "A letter to Hitler" In both articles, she articulates how the Germans tried (but did not succeed) in destroying a people that can never be destroyed. Her words are proof, Hitler did not succeed.

(36) rahel schneider, September 18, 2011 2:51 PM

the video with a granmother, she speeks to her granddaughter about her number on his arm.

(35) Beverly Kurtin, May 1, 2011 10:21 PM

I cried

The Granddaughter is one heck of a word smith. Her narrative brought tears to my eyes. I was transported to the camps in my imagination and visualized the countless families torn apart, some for forced labor and others...murdered in cold blood and then incinerated as so much refuse. Her word pictures had me sighing at the thoughts that her writing created in my mind's eye. Thanks for letting us see it.

(34) Anonymous, April 24, 2009 12:58 PM

i was really touched by this story. what happened jewish people was hart breaking. i wish the holocaust never took place.

(33) sjhepner, March 10, 2007 3:12 AM

I cried.....

I cried FOR ALL YOUR brave Z eidee and his family went through...he and his family are martyrs for Kaddush Ha Shem... and I am sure they are safe in the highest realms of Heaven... with the Angels...

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