Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Surviving the Undeniable
By BRENT HOLLAND
Lydia Reich is a Holocaust (Shoah) survivor. She befriended Anne Frank in the camps. This is part of her true story and what happened to Anne.
“I saw little babies taken torn from their mother’s arms and torn to pieces. And thrown into a wagon (box car) I saw the mothers killing themselves,” she said.
We often laugh and shrug off that the oldest occupation of the world is prostitution. It’s not. It’s hate. The global barometer of hate is and has always been anti-Semitism.
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme allied commander, ordered in-depth filming and documentation of the camps in 1945. Eisenhower was able to grasp that future generations would attempt to gloss over if not outright deny that the Holocaust ever took place. He wanted “to be in a position to give firsthand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda’” (from “Dear General: Eisenhower’s Wartime Letters to Marshall”).
Propaganda? The Holocaust? Guess what, folks: We’re there.
According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, anti-Semitism today surpasses all that has gone before. There are those who are now claiming that Anne Frank was simply a fabrication invented by Jews in order to get sympathy from the world after the Holocaust, part of some “Jewish conspiracy” to rule the world.
What follows will prove that Anne once lived and breathed, smiled and laughed. It is confirmation by a personal friend of Anne’s who was in the camps right alongside her.
Perhaps it is right that no words should ever be found to describe the indescribable. Lydia Reich was just a young girl when she encountered Hitler’s “final solution.”
In the interview, she refers several times to a “wagon”; she is referring, of course, to a train box car. And that’s what shattered me into reality.
This wasn’t a movie or words in a book; this happened. For real.
She grew up in the 1930s in Germany; she was ripped from the arms of her mother, virtually, and taken to a slave labor camp. Later, she was forced on a death march to Bergen-Belsen in sub-zero weather.
Hundreds collapsed along the way and were simply shot where they fell or left to freeze to death. As always, most would be children and the elderly.
Once at “the camp,” their only way to stay warm in the huts at night was for one girl to sleep on top of the other one night and the next night it would be the other’s turn. No blankets, no sanitation, no hope.
“All the Jews were taken to Auschwitz. So that was my birthday present. I never saw my mother again,” Lydia said. “There was this creek to wash your face down with water, and I always had with me notes which I hid in the rocks. Then I suddenly felt someone on my back (Anne Frank had discovered the notes), and we soon became friends and we saw each other and we looked out for each other and she saw what I wrote and she wrote, too.”
What happened to Anne?
“They took us suddenly. ... They took us to other camps, and I lost her. I found out with a friend after the war, ‘Where’s Annie; where’s Annie?’ and she said “Annie is ... dead.”
I asked if Lydia stilled believed in God after all that happened to her. Her answer was immediate, without hesitation but more than anything inspiring. Here is a person who has experienced the worst that humanity has to offer and yet had transcended that free of anger, free of vengeance and free of hate. She had but one thing left in her heart: love.
“You have to, don’t you understand? I’m a young grandmother, and I want my kids to go to synagogue and go to Hebrew school; you have to carry on. Don’t you understand? Doesn’t matter, Jew or non-Jew, good people in every race, too.”
Amen. Never again.
Anne Frank’s birthday is June 12, 1929. Lydia Reich was born in 1927. And despite Hitler’s “final solution” and today’s Holocaust revisionists and deniers, she lives and celebrates her life and grandchildren every day in the United States.
Originally published Watertown Daily Times FRIDAY, MAY 16, 2014