Facing the past on Holocaust Remembrance Day

On April 12 Jews around the world choose to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day. I was honored to organize Stan Meyer’s missionary itinerary when I worked for Jews for Jesus in San Francisco. This is a part of his family story.

Ruth Stateman (my maternal grandmother) came from Biala-Podlaska, Poland, on the Russian border. Ruth, her sisters Lillian and Rose; and their parents aware of the coming tragedy fled Poland, settling in Cincinnati. Sadly, their older brother and sister Rivka remained behind. These two were married, with families, big homes, and lucrative businesses. For years, my great grandmother begged Rivka to bring her family to the US, but they declined. Things were too comfortable for them in pre-war Poland. They didn’t believe anything would happen to them.

In 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland. Rivka and her family were relocated to a flat with three other families on 99 Zelazna in the Warsaw Ghetto. For months they exchanged letters in Polish. The letters speak about trivial things, generally describe the desperate condition in the ghetto, and ask for Red Cross packages. In June, 1941, Rivka sent her last postcard (see picture).

Stan postcard

Except for Rivka, the family was never heard from again. They were sent to Auschwitz along with the other deportees from the ghetto where they were gassed.

On April 12  Jews around the world observe Holocaust Remembrance Day. Just as my Polish family did not truly believe such an atrocity could happen to them, many of us decline to belief that this scale of genocide and mass slaughter could repeat itself today. On this day we remember that sin clouds the hearts of men and women such that even the most progressive societies can commit atrocities such as the Holocaust. Those of us who survived are responsible to continue the memory of those lost so that this does not happen again.

For further reading please see;

Click to access issues-16-10.pdf

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