Mothers: given the same scenario would you smother your baby?

saintchild_upone

myeyesmustbebe_bar2-02

Concealed in a common hiding place built on the second floor of a house in the Sokolow Ghetto are a gathering of terrified Jewish families and neighbors; friends, mothers, fathers, sons, sisters, cousins, grandparents. Frozen still silent they listen to the Ukrainian guard and Gestapo storm thru the house in search of Jews. A baby starts to cry. The mother is asked to quiet her child. There is no way the mother can leave the hiding place without her capture and subsequent reveal of their hiding place. If the baby continues to cry the Ukrainians and Gestapo will hear. As it was the baby was silenced in vain — they were all discovered, herded out into the street, shot at and struck with clubs.

The opening title paragraph is taken from the book I Still See Her Haunting Eyes: The Holocaust and a Hidden Child named Aaron by Aaron Elster and Joy Erlichman Miller, PhD.

Aaron was 10 years old when he saw the mother smother her baby. Aaron’s own mother gave him a pair of earrings and a ring, told him to run off on his own, find the house his older sister is staying at, see if the family will take him in. His mother, with a strange man companion, leaves Aaron alone to fend for himself. Ten year old Aaron; he just escaped a bloodbath on the streets, leaving his father and younger sister in the deadly chaos; his mother apparently deserts him, without an embrace, keeping her distance, the only physical contact is from the strange man with his mother, he pushes Aaron away, go Aaron, go.

composite_withcaptions-02

Aaron escape the Nazis while enduring 2 years hiding in an un-insulated attic with a tin roof; he froze in the winter, fried in the summer, was given the bare essentials, water and scant food by a family that were reluctant to give him any shelter or care. He spent 2 birthdays, from age 10 to 12, in the attic, never leaving, no visitors except rare brief visits by his sister who lived below him in the house itself with the family. She tells her brother Aaron: “Now the Gorskis have to worry about hiding two of us.”

“Aaron Elster’s story is told with power and integrity. The memory is fresh, the experience searing. His work retains the tone of the child who lived the story, untainted by adult cynicism … a rare work of survival with a truthful immediacy that leaves the reader stunned but not numbed. It is not easy reading, but urgent reading, recommended reading.”
 Michael Berenbaum, Director, Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious implications of the Holocaust.

spacer2-03

Infanticide In the Ghetto

If the mother who made the sacrifice by smothering her child was slain during thesaintchild bloodletting the last glimmer of thought she’d carry with her to eternity was the death of her infant by her own hands, knowing, knowing that it didn’t make a difference to the outcome. If she lived thru the Holocaust she’d carry that awful moment with her day by day. If still alive will her God forgive her? Will she forgive herself? Is her act beyond forgiving? Not required? Forgiving not required. She requires sainthood. If you’re not into sainthood give her your love. If love is too much to ask them empathy, we can spare that much, our empathy for her.

The crying infant ghetto scenario — this grotesque, insufferable, impossible, cruel decision forced upon a parent was played out time and time again given the number of ghettos, number of hiding places Jews have built, the years the Nazis devoted to decimating ghettos and the years evil reign over the mass slaughter of infants and children. Jewish babies aren’t allowed to cry in the Ghetto.

 

Голокост шпалерний клей. Халакост абіўны клей. Holocaust je tapeta pasta. השואה היא דבק טפטים. Holokausts ir fona pastas. L’Holocauste est colle à papier peint. די חורבן איז טאַפּעטן פּאַפּ. Holokaustas yra ekrano užsklanda pasta. Der Holocaust ist Tapetenkleister. Holokaust jest pasta tapeta. A holokauszt tapéta paszta. Holocaustul este pasta de tapet.

head_holocaustis-03

That’s the answer given when twin sisters twenty years old, Yevgenia and Ksenia Karatygina, were asked on a Russian television game show “ What is the Holocaust? They conferred, searching memory for a clue. Running out of time the sisters made an innocent stab at the question “We think the Holocaust is wallpaper paste.”

They had no idea that this answer would bring them instant notoriety, embarrassment and infamy. “Video of the shocking scene was viewed hundreds of thousands of times online…” That’s how it was described in several publications: “shocking scene” — an appropriate description if the girls had said a curse word or torn off their blouse but shocking?

I find it disturbing, tragic, telling; the fault lies not with the girls.

The video saw 319,000 plus hits. Great PR for the game show, not so for the twins, Yevgenia and Ksenia. The girls got personal insults from replies on You-tube.  A “shocking” amount of anti-Semitism found expression on You-tube. On second thought, not so shocking.

Moisha Grozenberg 1 month ago
Tell me where to buy?
Mr Solomon 1 month ago
how low cost?
jeo jay 1 month ago
Yeah. Glue. Of the Jews.
vovka pistoletov 1 year ago
And why should they know what the Holocaust?!
TreuerRatibor28 1 year ago
I hear it’s a Jewish holiday!
Vad Vad 1 year ago
Read a very interesting book, and all will understand:
Jürgen Graf, “The myth of the Holocaust”
eukart 1 year ago
For example: Lampshades made of leather Jews
Glasses of beer out of their skulls!
MrTrifon73 1 year ago
A celebration
alexver31 1 month ago
The Holocaust – the glue. I agree.

According to an article in Radio Free Europe the incident “provoked a discussion about how the Holocaust is taught in the schools of the country whose troops (along with those of other former Soviet republics) liberated the Nazis’ largest concentration and death camp at Auschwitz in Poland.”

Mumin Shakirov, journalist, along with Holocaust Fund Chairwoman Alla Gerber interviewed Yevgenia and Ksenia on the Moscow studio “Radio Liberty”. For one thing they wanted to know if the twin’s answer was planned so to boost the ratings of the game show. It wasn’t. Asked about their studies, they replied that at the time we weren’t interested in school. I was writing poetry.  Now we are into music. Asked if they had heard of Auschwitz, Yevgenia said no, while Ksenia said: “It is something about some sort of civil war, I think.” This incident was significant enough for Shakirov to eventually film a short documentary on Yevgenia and Ksenia; his film is featured in this post.

toretain1-03

Yevgenia and Ksenia were born in a small village near Vladimir (Red Gorbatka). They finished primary school there studying sewing, painting, Universe Sciences, etc. They graduated from the Lyceum with an emphasis’s on humanities. They submitted documents to 3 universities and were accepted by all. Yevgenia graduated from the School of Music in voice and piano. Ksenia graduated from Moscow State Textile University. There might be some facts about their education that was lost in the translation but no doubt the twins are no dummies.

thetwinspucker

When it comes to teaching the Holocaust to students in Vladimir Oblast, Russia there is for whatever reason no incentive or will to offer it. An oversight or intentional, it’s not in the lesson plan. The girls never heard the word Holocaust throughout all their years of schooling.

knowanswer-03

If they read one poem written by a girl or boy their age who was imprisoned at the Theresienstadt ghetto/concentration camp and then to know the child’s murder by lethal gas at Auschwitz they would have known the answer.

If they saw one child’s watercolor painting who was imprisoned at the Theresienstadt ghetto/concentration camp and then to know the child’s murder by lethal gas at Auschwitz they would have known the answer.

afilmstarring1-03

In October 2012, with financial support from the Polish Cultural Center in Moscow, documentary filmmaker and former RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Mumin Shakirov took the sisters on an visit to the museum and memorial complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau in the Polish town of Oswiecim. It was the girl’s first trip out of Russia.

A short film, statement by Mumin Shakirov, titled  “Holocaust — Wallpaper Paste?”  It covers Yevgenia and Ksenia Karatygina experience at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Both were deeply moved by the experience. Yevgenia broke down into loud weeping as she stood in front of an enormous pile of children’s shoes. Ksenia wept through a showing of the Soviet documentary film “The Liberation Of Auschwitz.”

Soviet doctors carry young survivor out of building at Auschwitz main camp

Soviet doctors carry young survivor out of building at Auschwitz main camp

likeitornot_postersize-03

shoesface

Yevgenia wept as she stood in front of an enormous pile of children’s shoes.

spacer2-03

theworldscenter-03

Ilya Altman, founder and chairman of the Russian Research and Educational center, once called Moscow “the world center for Holocaust denial.”*

In a speech at the American Jewish World Service, which has helped fund the center, the 52-year-old Altman recalled his own days as a student. He and others heard “12 lessons about the history of World War II and the major battles,” he said, “but we did not speak about the Holocaust and who killed Soviet Jews.”

whytheresist-03

Many “ethnic Russians” resent any discussion of the Holocaust uniqueness to Jews when so many of their families also suffered tremendously during the war. They ask why Jews should be singled out or discussed separately, above and beyond all others. Some estimates put the number of Soviet residents killed during the war at about 20 million, a figure that may include the victims of not only the Nazis, but of Stalin’s labor camps. More than half the estimated six million Jews killed by the Nazis were from the Soviet Union.

Also there is a national guilt to be reckoned with. Like all massacres of Jewish communities in foreign lands, the Germans relied heavily on local collaborators; both to identify and round up Jewish citizens and to murder women and children.

The resistance to teaching the Holocaust appears to be melting, according to Alla Gerber, the center’s president and a former member of the Duma, the Russian parliament. She said that roughly 650 Russian schools have covered the Holocaust in some fashion.
“650 schools, whoopee!” Out of all the schools in Russia? For Gerber to cite this as an accomplishment indicates the degree of difficulty in getting the Holocaust taught in Russia.

Olga Glebova, an English teacher in Moscow tries to discuss the Holocaust as much as possible at the high school in which she works. Glebova said she has a ready response to colleagues who ask why she teaches such a horrifying subject: “I say because it’s real and that without understanding the past, you have no future.” Olga Glebova identifies herself as part of a distinguished and highly regarded class in Russia, hailing, she says, from “a very old, noble Russian family.” Like much of the country, she’s also Russian Orthodox, a faith whose leaders have often been at odds with Russian Jewry. 

Russia has no government program for teaching the Holocaust but there are several organizations that facilitate and provide programs and training for teacher and student.

resourcestoteach-03

Learn: The Holocaust and United Nations outreach program
Holocaust Education in Russia Today: Its Challenges and Achievements

Learn:  The International School for Holocaust Studies
Free. These lesson plans cover some of the central themes of the Holocaust, detailing how they can be approached in the classroom.
For elementary school students (ages 9-12)
For middle school students (ages 13-15)
For high school students (ages 15-18)
Also available for individuals.

Learn: Coming of Age in the Holocaust
A free, interactive curriculum for middle and high-school students and their educators created by the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York in collaboration with Yad LaYeled – The Ghetto Fighters’ Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Heritage Museum in IsraelThe site features individual testimonies of thirteen people who were adolescents during the Holocaust and had some of the same concerns that young people today have. Students follow their stories through the survivors’ words, short video interviews, maps, pictures, a glossary, a timeline, and other instructional content. Students who read all thirteen stories will encounter the Holocaust through the eyes of youth their own age that survived it. Through these survivors they will explore the diversity of experience that took place. Also available for individuals.

Learn: Holocaust in Film and Literature, German 59 (1 thru 18)
Online
By Todd Presner – UCLA
Free; highly recommended for all.
Course Description:
German 59: Holocaust in Film and Literature is a course that provides insight into the History of Holocaust and its present memory through examination of challenges and problems encountered in trying to imagine its horror through media of literature and film.
About the Professor:
Todd Presner is Associate Professor of Germanic Languages, Comparative Literature, and Jewish Studies. His research focuses on German-Jewish intellectual and cultural history, the history of media, visual culture, digital humanities, and cultural geography. He is the author of two books: The first, Mobile Modernity: Germans, Jews, Trains (Columbia University Press, 2007), maps German-Jewish intellectual history onto the development of the railway system; the second, Muscular Judaism: The Jewish Body and the Politics of Regeneration (Routledge, 2007), analyzes the aesthetic dimensions of the strong Jewish body.

wearenowfootnote-03