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A Letter to Whosoever It Concerns

Essay by   •  January 20, 2018  •  Creative Writing  •  1,697 Words (7 Pages)  •  676 Views

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Dear Mother, Father, Sister or Brother,

I finally found you.

It has been 26 years. 26 years.

I’m turning 48 years in a matter of minutes but all I can think about is how long it has been and how much this uncertainty of life has lead me to give up on hope and the doubts that have risen when I see a name that ends with a familiar ‘Harris’.

But today, today is different. It has been the happiest I have felt in years. Today I found the reason to believe again. To trust again. And to have faith again.

Today, I have ended my quest to find you because I finally finally did. It took years of searching and it was especially hard being 22; homeless and scared. I was alone and everything I dealt with was alone. But I do not blame you for that. Nor anyone. I guess it was life’s way of telling me that you can’t really depend on people because one day they’ll all be gone.

And for a long time, I believed it. Believed that I deserved being stranded on a desert island and forced to figure out a way to survive.

When I did, I stopped to look around me. For the first time in a long time, I saw that there were other people too. Those who had been left on the same island with the same fate, those who had learned to not only survive but conquer.

Our lives, though, began in shreds.

People like Freddie Knoller who is now the same age as I and lives in Totteridge, London had experienced some of the worst horrors of the Holocaust. He had spend more than a year in Auschwitz concentration camp before he was sent on a notorious Death March, to walk 20 miles through snow and ice to another camp in Gleiwitz. After his liberation, he hasn’t spoken a word about it since.

He has suffered from nightmares and often wakes up in the night with great fear and panic, thinking that he was back in Auschwitz.

For another it took him almost two months to abandon the habit of walking with his eyes fixed to the floor, as if seeking for something to eat or slip rapidly into his pocket to sell for bread.

Many, I’ve heard, often found themselves in strange countries with half their family missing or murdered. Many coped by adopting a stiff upper lip approach and those who were displaced worked hard to make a living and integrate into their new nations.

During the Holocaust, I remember seeing bodies and using those bodies to keep me warm.

To return to life as it had been before was impossible. Jewish communities no longer existed in much of Europe. When many tried to return to their homes from camps or hiding placed they found that, in many cases, their homes had been looted or taken over by others. Returning home was also dangerous. After war, anti - Jewish riots broke out in several Polish cities.

Many survivors ended up in displaced persons’ camps set up in western Europe under Allied military occupation at the sites of former concentration camps. There, they waited to be admitted to placed like the U.S., South Africa or Palestine.

At first, may countries continued their old immigration policies which greatly limited the number of refugees they would accept. The British government which controlled Palestine, refused to let large number of Jews in. But finally the United Nations voted to divide Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state.

Although many Jewish survivors were able to build new lived in their adopted countries, many non - Jewish victims of Nazi policies continued to be persecuted in Germany.

The survivors wished to leave what they regarded as the cursed soil of Germany as soon as possible. But the doors of Palestine and other destinations remained closed, and in many cases their physical and psychological condition made any immediate move impossible.

Just one year after the end of Nazi rule, Germany and the territories of its former allies became the major destinations of Jewish refugees who fled Poland and other countries of Eastern Europe. The flight of Polish Jewry culminated after the Kielce pogrom of July 1946, when about 700 Jews a day left the country. By the end of 1946 a quarter of a million Jews lived in Germany, Austria, and Italy, with the vast majority in the American occupation zone of Germany.

The growing differences between the American and British zones were based on the disparate political interests of the two Western powers. The British, who still controlled Palestine, were anxious to limit the number of Jewish refugees and refused to recognize Jews as a separate nationality.

In the American zone a similar policy was pursued during the first months after liberation. A turning point was reached, however, after the publication in September 1945 of a Report by an investigative committee.

The Harrison Report stated in the most dramatic terms that “as matters now stand, we appear to be treating the Jews as the Nazis treated them except that we do not exterminate them. They are in concentration camps in large numbers under our military guard instead of SS troops. One is led to wonder whether the German people, seeing this, are not supposing that we are following or at least condoning Nazi policy.”

One of the most important results of the Harrison Report was the recognition of the Jewish DPs as a separate national category, followed by the appointment of an “Adviser of Jewish Affairs.” The United States, however, did not follow Harrison’s urgent advice to receive some of the DPs.

When in June 1948, after long deliberations, Congress finally passed the Displaced Persons Act, it seemed like a mockery to the Jewish survivors. It made only those DPs eligible for admission who had arrived in Germany, Austria, and Italy before 22 December 1945, thereby excluding most of the Eastern European Jewish refugees.

Still in 1945, exclusively Jewish DP camps were created in the American zone as a response to the Jewish DPs’ refusal to share the same camp with those DPs who had collaborated with the Germans.

The return to “normal life” was extremely difficult after years of physical deprivation and psychological hardship.

Cleanliness in the DP camps was a major issue during the first months. What rendered many of

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