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[Page 275]

Chapter 27

“Children,” from Mir Veln Lebn

Who is he, “a man who escaped to the woods”?

Who is she, “a woman who also lived to the liberation”?

Who are they, the “single, lonesome remnants of large families that perished”?

This is he. This is she. This is me. This is my friend, my wife. These are all the survivors as homeless, splintered pieces and chips, as thorns and branches of the chopped-down Jewish tree. These are the single ones, lonely ones, remnants that were saved from the ghettos, death camps, slaughters, “actions,” gas chambers, crematoriums and ordinary burning ovens, from torched homes, from blown-up bunkers, from death by starvation, from cold, from typhoid and other illnesses, from “medical experiments,” from sudden death, from slow tortures, from a bullet or a grenade in the woods, from encirclement in the woods, from the hands of the murder battalions of Germans, Ukrainians, White Russians, Polish, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Romanians, “Vlashovitzeh” or “Shmaltavinkes” [killing groups in Lithuania], and from anyone and from anything.

The single, lonesome remnants-whether a man whose wife will
not return anymore from the bloody mass graves; whether a woman whose husband was torn away forever; whether a lonely father or mother whose children went away on the paths of the six million other holy ones; whether a wandering child, a little boy, a little girl, an orphan who remained without a father, without a mother, without a relative, without a friend; whether someone who returned from the forest; whether someone who returned from Russia; whether a survivor of a death camp, who still hoped to find someone of his own family. And the miracle didn't happen. No one is alive anymore. These are who they are, the single ones, lonely ones, the remnants.

Certainly, they want to live and build, the lonesome, single remnants. They are going to establish new families. They get married. Middle-aged lonely people are getting married, who want to free themselves

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from the loneliness and emptiness of the frightening death feelings. They want to build a home, a family, and again fill the empty life. Young people are getting married, who want to finish their up-till-now upset, confused, free-for-all life, who want to find a little bit of joy and refinement in the created circle of husband and wife and child and home. The deepest and strongest instinct, the life instinct, drives them to get married, the lonely, single remnants in the refugee camps. It drives them to begin a new life. To build a new family and hide, chase away the shadows of the bloody yesterday.

They create a new family; in the chain of inheritances, there's a new ring.

Yes, the lonesome, quiet marriage ceremony in a room in the camp, in a Joint building, in a rabbi's room; where the entire camp is participating as a relative and as best man; where the rabbi is both making the wedding and acting as father; where the destruction of the past is playing the wedding music. How much human tragedy lies in this? And at the same time, how much comfort, sense, and strength? Do you understand this? Were you present at such weddings?

Children are born-new Jewish children. Scores, hundreds, and maybe thousands of fresh and healthy Jewish children, in the refugee camps; in the “private” living quarters of the wandering remnants; on the boats with the “illegal” Land of Israel immigrants; in the detention camps of Cypress. When children are born and where children are raised, there is again joy and hope, and the foundation for further existence.

What can warm and encourage the suffering souls of the remnants if not a child?

What can again bring light and joy to their hearts if not the laughter of a child?

And what else can tie them again to the chopped-down life? Blow the new spirit of life in them, if not a newborn child?

I saw in the camps with what a painful, longing love old and young mothers hug their newborn babies. I saw in the camps and in the family circles how delicately and devotedly lonely children, orphans, are being brought up by lonely mothers whose own children went into an eternity. One must see it and feel it in order to understand it.

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Six million Jews perished, a good third of the nation; chopped down were the stems and roots of millions of Jewish families. But life brings out new. It demands the existence of the future.

And thousands of new families-!and my wife and our child, our new family, and every other one that sprouted from the bloody destruction-are the “organ in the chain of two worlds” and “in the chain of inheritances a ring.” His child and her child and our child and thousands of children of the survivors-they are the “foundation of generations that are coming” and the “remembrance after generations who were killed.”Joshua was the scholar, the one who sacrificed himself for the Almighty, there on the road between Abel and Rakishok, in Lithuania. And this is the name of his grandson, who was born after the destruction of the generations; he is the bearer of the new, upcoming Jewish generations. Yehoshua, Joshua-the meaning of this is “the help of the Almighty. “ The child should grow up. He should be a healthy, honest person; a fine person and a good Jew. Not worse than his grandfather, the holy person after whom he is named, one of the many Jewish holy ones and pure ones.

 

 

 

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