Thursday, April 28, 2022

We're Also Holocaust Survivors...

I had never really considered my family as being connected to the Holocaust, since all of my grandparents made it from Eastern Europe to the USA a couple of decades before World War Two. 

Both of my parents were born in Brooklyn, NY, just like me. I grew up in a neighborhood built after WWII for US military veterans. Our parents spoke native New York English. We didn't hear Yiddish at home. We were American Jews. I first heard about the Holocaust when the Anna Frank Diaries was being publicized, and then there was the Eichmann Trial. None of this was connected to my family.

My father had lots of aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides in New York. My mother had siblings, no aunts, uncles or cousins. When I was older I discovered that my mother's father had been born an orphan in the Ukraine. His father had been murdered in a pogrom, before he was born, and his mother died in childbirth. He was raised by grandparents. My mother didn't know which ones, and as a young man he went to America. My mother's mother left her family in Rogotshav, Belarus for New York, when married to her first husband. They had three daughters, but he died leaving her a poor widow. A few years later, she married my grandfather, who was widowed with two sons. Together they had four more children, including my mother.

My mother was never told much about all the family left in Rogotshav. My grandmother died before my third birthday, just before my brother was born, and I already had two children by the time my mother discovered that she had had an uncle in London. By then he had passed away, but with the help of HIAS my mother and her siblings discovered cousins in London and New Zealand.

Great-Grandfather
Vishnefsky
Great-Grandmother
Vishnefsky
After World War Two, neither my grandmother nor her brother ever discovered or heard from any surviving relatives. So, I guess you can say that my cousins, our children and grandchildren are the only SURVIVORS of the Vishnefsky Family of Rogotshov*. 

It's strange to think that it has taken me so long to realize that even though neither my parents nor grandparents suffered in concentration camps, death marches etc, we are part of the story.

Holocaust Memorial Day, 5772, 2022

*Honestly, I'd love to discover more Vishnefsky relatives.

That's where my Vishnefsky Family had lived





3 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a people we who are here all survived an evil plot to eliminate all traces of our people. and almost all of us lost relatives in the holocaust. I think it fair to say we are all victims of the Holocaust. However, knowing actual survivors, people who survived camps or escaped imprisonment by the skin of their teeth, I do not feel those of us not directly involved to that extent can compare ourselves to those so directly affected. Their experiences are unique and I feel it dishonors them to dilute the significance by claiming the same identity for ourselves.

Batya said...

I don't consider myself or my family on the same "level" of those who suffered physically due to Nazi cruelty, but in the big picture we survived, and we're here alive and thriving.

Batya said...

thanks