This is the second part of my Mom’s travelogue from Israel last month:
Trauma of baptized Jews
Friday, November 9th
The Conference continues to work in groups. The topics are interesting but I had to choose one for the morning and one for the afternoon. The first group summoned together the people of the same age as me. I believed I had known much about the war and suffering. In the group of about 30 participants from different countries I realized how little I had known. Better to say, I knew quite a lot about what had been going going on here, in our country, but not much about the events elsewhere.
People from Germany, France, Holland and Belgium had, in a way, rather similar experiences as we had had. Brave people rescued children risking their own lives, shared the last piece of bread with the hidden child. Who could save and hide a Jewish child? Catholic monasteries hid a number of kids. They baptized them and made of them devout Catholics. That was one of the ways they could rescue them from the Germans. Families, usually from villages, would take a child or two and shared with them the good and the bad and turned them into good Catholics. They became regular church goers.
After the war was over – some people told us their stories – they became confused. They did not know what they really were. They did not understand where they belong. When they were found by the Jewish organizations and taken to orphanages after the war the children became confused and their dilemmas started.
In the afternoon I participated in the session led by the president of the Federation, Mrs.Daisy Miller. From her biography I found out that she was born in Zagreb. The topic was: Did Holocaust survivors differ from non-survivors and in which way? Those who survived, we agreed, have been deprived of their childhoods. Some take facts of life differently. Individual experiences were discussed. Some were angry and accused themselves for being rescued while all the other members of their families perished. There were opinions that some of us had an urge to catch up for the lost time and destroyed childhood. Others addmitted never to have told their children what had been going on during the war. They tried to hide it from them or did not want to remind themselves of the past. Some did not want to burden their children with their stories. Some claimed to be emotionally crippled and unable to create tight connections. However, the majority were optimistic. They insisted on one point – be happy and make most of your life, use it as much as possible: make your life beautiful, both for yourself and for others.