Photo thanks to New York Times.
I wonder how holocaust survivors manage. Managed. They mostly did. At least, our family did. Do.
I remember when we watched one such couple get a phone call from dear friends, telling them that a twelve-year-old they loved had died of cancer. This is David and Rosette, living in Paris. When Rosette was a child, her little sister starved while they hid out in the forest in Poland, scrabbling for food, freezing, constantly at risk of death. Grief, yes, and they moved on. They considered themselves lucky the rest survived--everyone left behind in the village was exterminated.
David at fourteen, had gone over the border into Russia, been picked up and shipped to Siberia and the salt mines of Khazakhstan. He was helped by being with older siblings and they were able to stick together. Two family babies--nieces--died in SIberia. The family left behind in Poland were exterminated, including two "little blond boys." Every time the family talked about them, they always cried. Same when they talked about their mother. About their siblings left behind.
The same way they cried when they heard about the twelve-year-old with cancer. And then they sang songs and then they danced a little.
I wonder how they managed--manage--living in Paris in the Marais, where buildings are marked with bullet holes and plaques announcing how many children were rounded up from each school and slaughtered? I know they encountered anti-Semitism. They still do. In their old age, they live in a city where hundreds of people were recently murdered because they were Jewish or were at a Jewish-owned business or a Jewish-owned concert venue. That must have triggered something from their past.
I wonder how my neighbors, who survived the Somali civil war manage when their kids study the US civil war? Those who fled Rwanda? I have talked to survivors, about the horrendous deaths or woundings of their family members. We held hands and cried together, and connected to the soul. And then, we went out and took care of children and got on with our days.
Lets teach our students resilience, the ability to self-calm and speak out. Let's teach them that they can cope. If they feel overwhelmed, let them learn how to step out and calm themselves down. We have to be able to talk to one another. And listen to one another. Calmly.