Holocaust families

by tobybee

It was a Shabbes dinner, and some of us were standing around in the kitchen, cleaning up the plates from main course and getting dessert ready. Judy pulled out a picture of her new grandson for me to admire – he was rather cute – and we moved into a discussion about the odd names that people seem to be giving their kids these days.

And then Judy told us that she had been cleaning up her mum’s house, going through old photos, and discovered a photo of her dad with his first wife, from before the war. She raced over to the cupboard, and pulled it out for us to see. We stood around, trying to decipher the German on the back, trying to figure out what her name was, and which cousin in Poland the photo was sent to.

Mum said that she, too, had found a similar photo – of her dad with his first wife and child, from before the war – when she was cleaning up her parents’ place. She said that she never knew that her dad had had a first wife, until she was in Israel on Academy at the end of first year uni. She was visiting an aunt, who told her. She didn’t believe her. But Aunty Renia insisted it was true. Mum returned to Melbourne, and asked her older brother, who told her that yes, it was true, and that he had also found out when he was in Israel. Also from Aunty Renia. But he hadn’t told Mum, because he thought it was too hard.

Judy laughed in disbelief. She had exactly the same story – the aunt in Israel who had first told her; the older brother who had found out but didn’t mention it; the parents who never said anything.

And we stood around the kitchen, laughing at the coincidence, wondering how many other younger sisters have this story.