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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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