Postcards to a Little Boy : Holocaust Memorial

By Cacinda Maloney

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

As I enter the Holocaust Memorial, an Israel Museum in Jerusalem, I am overwhelmed with it as a space. The Israel Museum has a well thought-out architecture that leads you down the path of the Jews during the holocaust, which is a horrific time in our world’s history. The triangular shaped Holocaust Memorial is made of cold-to-the-touch, gray concrete and takes you literally on a path into the underworld, the belly of evil. The Israel Museum walls begin to envelope you, they become smaller and smaller as you march your way down into the Jewish Ghettos. It is as if you are being lead into the extermination chamber yourself.

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

Holocaust Memorial – Israel Museum

I am cold and shivering. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and I can’t even close my eyes in my warm, luxury hotel in Jerusalem. No matter how much I try, I can’t seem to get him out of my mind. That little boy in the picture, Lichtnitz Heinz, age 5. With his deep enduring eyes and his tiny, packed satchel. He was going on a journey that would change his life forever.

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

Faces of the children no longer with us, who were killed during the Holocaust.

Suddenly as I lie there, I have grown accustomed to his face from the photos I saw of him in the Holocaust memorial. He seems to haunt me each night that I am here in Jerusalem and his face becomes clearer and clearer as the days pass. The Israel Museum is a space you must visit while you are in Jerusalem. Lichtnitz’ Father thoughts must have become clearer and clear as well in 1937, when he came to the realization that he must give away his only son to guarantee him a better life or even a life at all.

Holocaust Memorial – Israel Museum

Lichtnitz’s Father Max was an educated German official, although he was different from most of the others. He was a Jew in Germany, one of only about 1% of the population that had an official position with the government. He realized early on what was going to happen to the Jews in Germany, as the tension has become palpable to Max. He knew that he must get his son out Germany in order to save his life.

I can’t imagine the heartbreak of Max and the innocence of the child Lichtnitz. The love of a parent is full of sacrifices and undeniably deep. Max would have to sacrifice everything.

Once inside the holocaust memorial, there is an entire replica of the largest Jewish Ghetto from Warsaw that you will have to pass through. With the sounds of the street playing on an audio recording, it is quite literally the stone streets, the walls, the signs and even a light post with a bullet hole in it. There is a metal cart on the street that a street worker would push along and pick up the dead bodies for disposal. They were dying on the streets due to poor living conditions, the influx of more refugees brought here and the lack of food. This particular ghetto in Warsaw lasted for three years until the end of the war. But even the war did not end the plight of the poor refugee Jews.

Rations in Calories given to the people of the Ghetto in Warsaw:

2000 calories per day – Aryan race

600 calories per day – Slovak race

184 calories per day – Jewish race

Holocaust Memorial – Israel Museum

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

After the Warsaw Ghetto, we move on to the turning point during the war, “Operation Barbarossa”, then to the burning fields of Auschwitz, Auschwitz II-Birkenau and Auschwitz III-Monowitz. The museum takes you on a journey that you will soon be ready to leave, but there will be no way out until it is over. We are the lucky ones, we get to survive. The stories here are too much to bear and it is quite difficult to witness photographs of what human beings did to other human beings. I certainly cannot imagine it in real life. As you continue to follow the path, you soon realize that you cannot walk straight thru the exhibit, but must follow the trail, follow the way of the Jews to their horrific death.

“The Jews are our misfortune.” – Heinrich Von Treitschke, 1879

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

The Hall of Names -They contain the pages of testimony commemorating the millions of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

The Hall of Names -They contain the pages of testimony commemorating the millions of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

The Hall of Names -They contain the pages of testimony commemorating the millions of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. They still have room for more

Holocaust Memorial – Israel Museum

In a certain way, Lichtnitz Heinz was one of the lucky, yet unlucky at the same time. Although he was transported out of Germany in 1938, he essentially was an orphan after his mother died. By the love of his Father who gave him away, he was able to ride the Kindertransport to the United Kingdom. He was one of 10,000 children that left Europe between Dec 1938 and Sept 1939.  He was given to a Jewish Wales couple by the name of Foner, who renamed him Henry. Excited to have his first reunited phone call with his German Jewish Father only 5 months after he arrived in the United Kingdom, he soon realized that he could no longer speak to his own Father, as he no longer remembered how to speak German. However, Henry’s father continued to send a series of letters and postcards that filled a box to tiny Henry asking for Henry to “make sure he knows where he came from.”  His father was deported to Auschwitz in Dec 1942 and subsequently murdered.

Concentration Camp - Auschwitz, Poland

Concentration Camp – Auschwitz, Poland

“Europe is to be combed from West to East in the course of the implementation of the Final Solution.” – SS General Reinhard Heydrich (nicknamed the Blond Beast), quote from the minutes from the WannSee Conference.

Holocaust Memorial – Israel Museum

Eventually Henry makes his way to Israel, where he lives today. Henry’s story, postcards, artifacts and the actual satchel are all on display in the museum. Henry eventually wrote a story about his life known as “Postcards to a Little Boy”.  Henry’s story is just one in a million stories, since Hitler put to death 70,000 Jews a day at his peak. Henry, although living here in Israel, appeared detached from the Jewish community according to our tour guide who met him. It is almost as if he is a man without a country.

“A Country is not just what it is, but what it tolerates.”

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

Emerging from the Holocaust Museum, I cannot wait to get out, my face wet with tears, I am disgusted with humanity. The plight of the Jewish people is still uncertain, even today after years of endurance of torture, mistreatment and death. One thing is for certain: we must stop another Holocaust from happening. Just today try to show love and compassion with empathy to others that you have looked upon as different than you.

Holocaust Memorial – Israel Museum

In the end, as I lingered in the Hall of Names, I thought how the creation of Israel should be a guarantee that we will not have another Hitler.

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

Reflection of the Hall of Names -They contain the pages of testimony commemorating the millions of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial, Israel Museum

Disclosure: My trip to the Holocaust Museum was sponsored by the Israel Tourism Board.

2018-11-27T12:25:27+00:00

2 Comments

  1. Carmen @ Carmen's Luxury Travel November 17, 2015 at 11:03 am

    The Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem is very moving with its collection of photographs, clothes and historical artifacts. The children’s museum was very heart felt for us. It’s so sad to see what the Jews went through and the struggles they had.

    • Cacinda Maloney November 19, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      So impactful, and yes, the children’s museum was difficult to even go through.

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