Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Annie Bleiberg

Yesterday Annie Bleiberg, a member of our congregation, shared her remarkable story of surviving the Holocaust with our sixth graders.  I have heard her tell this story many times over the course of my ten years here at the synagogue.  I still remain in awe of Annie.  She survived against all odds.  Her entire story is amazing but here is one remarkable episode.  When her father discovered that the train the Nazis had packed her family in was headed to the death camp Belzec her father used the tools he had smuggled in to pry open the train car's small window.  He jumped off the moving train.  Annie was to be the first girl to jump, but a young boy became scared and she jumped in his place before him.  The Nazi soldiers saw him jump and shot him dead.  She survived the fall from the train and made her way back to the ghetto to find her father.  False papers were made for her so she could work as a Polish nanny in Germany.  She was quickly discovered.  A former classmate turned her in and she was taken to the police station where she was severely beaten.  She was then deported to Auschwitz where she survived for a year and a half.  In Auschwitz she would use some of her meager tea rations to add color to her face so she would appear healthier and not be sent to the gas chambers. Despite all of this the most frequent word to pass from her lips is "lucky."  Over and over again she said that she was lucky because she survived.  I would have understood if she said that she was angry or always mourning, but instead she is filled with thankfulness and hope.  She concluded her talk to our students by reminding them that you must always keep hope alive.  It is one thing when I say that you must be hopeful.  It is another thing entirely when Annie says, "Hope!  Without hope you can't survive.  You, students, can make the world a better place."  Amen Annie.  Thank you.  You can watch a brief clip of her talk here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God bless her.
Truly one touching story.