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JBG





Joined: 03 Oct 2007
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Location: NYC Area

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:01 am    Post subject: Grown Men Can Cry, Or, a Trip to Museum of Jewish Heritage Reply with quote

This morning, I chaperoned a field trip of my older son's Grade 6 Class to New York City's Museum of Jewish Heritage (often incorrectly called the "Holocaust Museum"). Because of the age of the children, we did not visit the Holocaust section. That did not preserve me from breaking down and sobbing in the museum's displays.

We were in the display of Jewish folkways of Germany and Eastern Europe. The display consisted largely of sepia photos of Jewish weddings, tailor shops, and other mundane items from Europe during the period from 1880 through 1920. The pictures had names of people, invariably very Yiddish or Jewish names, straight out of "Fiddler on the Roof".

Most of them were evidently decent, simple, solid citizens who valued schooling and literacy, and were trying to preserve a precarious life. While the spread of democracy, and/or the softening of the monarchies of Germany and Austria-Hungary resulted in the loosening of official restrictions against Jews' participation in occupations, and voting, the results were horrific. Basically, the other common folk, seeing the advantages that the Jews' social cohesiveness and universal literacy created, ratcheted up the long-latent hatred of Jews. Basically, all h*** quickly broke loose, resulting in

  1. Incidents of rioting and spontaneous attacks on Jews;
  2. Massive emigration to the "New Worlds" of the US, Canada and Australia, in approximate numbers of 6-10 million; and
  3. Ultimately, the Holocaust
When I viewed those pictures, and read the names of the ordinary Jews, I unaccountably and suddenly broke down sobbing. I know that some of those communities (3 million in Poland as of 1939) were essentially liquidated. The lucky ones made it to the blessed countries of the "New World". G-d Bless the USA, Canada and Australia.
Mac





Joined: 02 Sep 2006
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Location: John Baird's riding...

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 2:21 am    Post subject: Re: Grown Men Can Cry, Or, a Trip to Museum of Jewish Herita Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing. My wife's parents immigrated to Canada and the horrors of their personal stories and the scars of their bodied from WWII are difficult to understand for someone raised in peace.

-Mac
JBG





Joined: 03 Oct 2007
Posts: 823
Reputation: 93.1Reputation: 93.1
votes: 8
Location: NYC Area

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 8:00 am    Post subject: Re: Grown Men Can Cry, Or, a Trip to Museum of Jewish Herita Reply with quote

Mac wrote:
Thanks for sharing. My wife's parents immigrated to Canada and the horrors of their personal stories and the scars of their bodied from WWII are difficult to understand for someone raised in peace.

-Mac
Are they Jewish? Where from?

I was deeply affected even though the part of the museum I went to was not the Holocaust portion. It was the portion on the pre-Holocaust yaars. I recognized from the mundane stuff what life my ancestors had in Europe and what was so senselessly destroyed. What many do not understand is that the mess far predated the Holocaust and indeed most of the immigrants that successfully reached either of our countries was long before the first Holocaust deaths.
Mac





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Location: John Baird's riding...

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:42 am    Post subject: Re: Grown Men Can Cry, Or, a Trip to Museum of Jewish Herita Reply with quote

JBG wrote:
Are they Jewish? Where from?

Yes, from Budapest, Hungary. My mother-in-law and her brother were preteens who were rescued by Raoul Wallenberg. My father-in-law was put in a workcamp until he was shot and left for dead as the Allies approached. He awakened in a coffin in the care of the Red Cross. The way he explains it, the Red Cross put severely injured people into rough coffins after operations. That way, iif he hadn't survived, they simply put a lid on it. He survived so they moved him to a bed... but can you imagine the experience of being shot and awakening in a wooden box?

-Mac
JBG





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Location: NYC Area

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Grown Men Can Cry, Or, a Trip to Museum of Jewish Herita Reply with quote

Mac wrote:
JBG wrote:
Are they Jewish? Where from?

Yes, from Budapest, Hungary. My mother-in-law and her brother were preteens who were rescued by Raoul Wallenberg. My father-in-law was put in a workcamp until he was shot and left for dead as the Allies approached. He awakened in a coffin in the care of the Red Cross. The way he explains it, the Red Cross put severely injured people into rough coffins after operations. That way, iif he hadn't survived, they simply put a lid on it. He survived so they moved him to a bed... but can you imagine the experience of being shot and awakening in a wooden box?

-Mac
The inhumanity of the whoe process is just shocking. The fact is that as soon as the new worlds of the Americas and Australia opened up, many people, not only Jews, fled the loony bin that Europe was for centuries. Despite the current image, there is nothing particularly civilized or refined about most of Europe.

The Europeans may consider Western Hemisphere types to be drooling yahoos, but the fact is that we've avoided war since the 1840's. We've avoided religious persecutions since the 1700's. They haven't.
Mac





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Location: John Baird's riding...

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The insanity which was WWI and WWII demonstrated just how thin the veneer of civilization is over brutal animal nature.

Although we pat ourselves on the backs and say we'll never allow such atrocities to happen again, it has happened and it is happening, albeit on lesser scale. If you think North America is immune, listen carefully to the visceral hatred demonstrated by some Democrats toward George W. Bush. Observe the religious protest groups who interrupt funerals of US servicemen. The veneer is mighty thin here too... but so far, it's holding.

-Mac
mrsocko





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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amazingly moving discussion guys. Mac that story brought tears to my eyes. It must be surreal to be so close to the actual history of the worst attrocity of our times.
Mac





Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 5500
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Location: John Baird's riding...

PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The guard emptied his revolver into my father-in-law's chest; six shots and six scars. Five of the bullets were removed by the Red Cross surgeons but one bullet was so close to his heart, they felt it was inoperable. He carried that bullet next to his heart until he died in the 90s of cancer.

After WWII, he stayed in Budapest and made a life for himself until the Russian Army crushed the Hungarian Revolution in 1957 and he fled to Canada with the clothes on his back and nothing more. He didn't speak English but he had a trade (electrician) and he knew how to work. There wasn't any welfare. There wasn't any "reasonable accommodation" and none was requested... and he was fiercely proud to be a Canadian.

The story still brings tears to my eyes as well.

-Mac
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