Especially, since moving to Shiloh in 1981, where there are large community commemorations, and so many of my neighbors have family stories that could even be made into films, I feel left out. I wasn't raised at all with any family awareness of the Holocaust. It was something I learned about in Hebrew School and on American television. It was "newsworthy" because of the play the "Diary of Anne Frank" and the Eichmann Trial, both which happened when I was still in elementary school.
I spent my childhood in Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY, which was a garden apartment neighborhood/public housing development built for United States army/military veterans. Also the private and two-family homes in my neighborhood were built as part of the same program. None of our parents, to my memory, had foreign accents; they had all been raised in the United States. Most grew up in the tenements/slums of Brooklyn, The Bronx and the Lower East Side. Moving to the new neighborhood in northeastern Queens was their escape from poverty and a chance to give us kids a new wonderful life.
I have friends of the same age, raised in very different sorts of New York, and other North/South American and European neighborhoods in which all of the parents were Holocaust survivors. You could say that we lived in parallel universes.
My grandparents were all born in Europe, my paternal grandfather from Neshelsk, Poland, my maternal grandfather from near Kiev, Ukraine, and both my grandmothers were from Rogotshov, Belarus. All of those areas were seriously affected (meaning that the Jewish communities were decimated) by the Nazis and their enablers during the Holocaust, so how could I have been so far removed from Holocaust awareness and stories?
All of my father's grandparents, almost all aunts and uncles, too, made it to the United States well before the Holocaust. He grew up in a large extended family on both sides. Only after I was married did I hear that two of my grandmother's sisters stayed in the USSR; they were great believers in their country, and since the war there hasn't been any contact.
On the other hand, my mother was raised without any aunts, uncles or cousins. Her parents were alone in America, and she has no idea what happened to the rest of her family.
of Rogotshov, Belarus
of Rogotshov, Belarus
That's why, at least to my knowledge, there were no Holocaust survivors in my family.