Sep 19, 2014 10:17PM ● Published by Laura Ustanovska
Shirley at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania
Gallery: Natzel Gallery [13 Images] Click any image to expand.
Submitted by Delafield Resident Shirley Natzel
In July I had the opportunity to attend a yearly international conference in Kaunas, Lithuania. I, along with 14 of my colleagues, participated in a preconference tour to Poland, where we toured Krakow and Warsaw.
We learned much about the history of these two cities from our very knowledgeable guide, Olga, especially the history of the Holocaust and its effect on the Jewish population of Poland. We visited the Jewish ghetto of Kazimierz in Krakow and Oskar Schindler's factory, as well as Auschwitz-Birkenau and the restricted ghetto in Warsaw.
I was reflecting on all of this history at the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes while the group had moved on to look at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. I was approached by a well-dressed, elderly gentleman and a younger man, who I later learned was his son. The gentleman asked if I was American, and I replied that I was; then he asked if I was Jewish. I told him I was not but some members of our tour group were. He identified himself as an author and lecturer as he had written a book titled A Promise at Sobibór: A Jewish Boy’s Story of Revolt and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland. He was a participant in the Sobibor revolt and was one of only 48 survivors of that particular concentration camp.
He gave me his card with his name, email address and the title of his book; he now lives in America and speaks internationally about the Holocaust. On the back of his card is the Jewish word “Hineni” (Here I am.).
This was truly a moment of truth when all that I had seen became a clear reality which cannot be experienced by just looking at monuments or hearing a guide speak about what transpired. His presence clearly confirmed all I had heard about! I was very fortunate to have separated from the group which allowed me to meet this gentleman.