Friday, March 25, 2005

Holocaust survivors, second generation (10)

Two cousins, two perceptions.
To my cousin, she was the nicest grandmother imaginable, but to me... My first vivid memory of her was when I suppose I was 8 or 9 years old. We had not seen her for a while and my mother took me to the bus station to fetch her. Walking towards us was this old, aloof, surly and sombre woman. Then there is this other occasion I remember; I must have been 11 or so. I was waiting somewhere when she coincidentally walked by. I went over to greet her, innocent and naïve as only kids can be, and she looked at me with some disgust. She continued without even stopping or saying anything to me.

“Your mother acted as a spoiled child in Bergen-Belsen.”
What coloured this relationship to such extent? Was it bad chemistry between mother and daughter, plain wickedness or something else? Why did that woman favour her eldest daughter and her children above her other daughter and hers? My cousin recently told me that according to his mother, my mother acted like a spoiled child in the concentration camp (she was 12 when the war ended). That remark shone a whole new light on the situation for me.

Family as relics of pain?
Painful memories dug up, flashbacks, just by seeing someone or hearing the name of a murdered spouse (I’m named after my grandfather, her husband). If so, I feel pity for this woman who wasn't capable of digesting her emotions, but vented them frustratedly. If not... well... at least I had the two nicest grandparents imaginable; on my father’s side.

To the next post in the "second generation" sequence

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