Families of the Holocaust: Too Many Tragedies

Brecher Family
I noticed too many posts on the tragedies of families of the Holocaust. In particular, my friend Michael Brecher posted the above photograph of his father. Here is what he writes:

This is my father’s family, who because of one man who could command many willing minds and the silence by the majority (but by NO means all) of the gentile people living in Europe; the majority were “silent bystanders…” because of them, I never knew 2/3 of my father’s family’.

The photo was sent to my father’s uncle who had emigrated to The States. My father is at the center of this picture, his one surviving sister, my Aunt Lucy to his right, next to the bubbe I never knew, Pesha OBM z”l…My zaide’s a”h, z”l expression made me think of the irony of the feature on my camera, “searching for a smile,” but I thought, maybe they knew something was coming…

The photo was accompanied with the following description:

This is a picture of your brother, his wife and four children.

Next to me, standing, are oldest daughter Soreh and our son Yudeh.

Next to my wife, standing, is our second daughter Dvoyre, named after our grandmother, the mother of our blessed father, along with our youngest daughter Manye.

No better pictures could be produced in Tluste.

I ask one thing in return, that you send a picture of yourself with your family, definitely, immediately, without keeping me waiting a long time with no response.

I send you my regards. All those you see in the picture send their regards. Special regards and kisses for our sister-in-law and the children.


Today (or yesterday, by the time this is published) is Yom HaShoa (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day).

More on the Brecher family: “They lived in a small village (Tluste) at the Polish Russian border at the southern-most tip of Poland…My dad lived in four regimes (Nazi Germany twice) by the time he was 12…Polish; (occupied) Nazi Germany; Stalin’s Russia and back to Nazi Germany…Their village was turned into a work camp to produce this material called “kahk-sagEE??” which my dad believed was just a way to keep the officer in charge away from the “front…” My grandfather and one aunt aunts (z”l) died of typhus; my other aunt was shot to death; how my grandmother (z”l) died is a matter of (unspoken) debate between my one surviving aunt and my father: Either way my dad claims to have had to bury her in a field at the age of 12.

My aunt emigrated to Canada immediately after the war, but my dad waited two years in Europe, because he wanted to go to the US (to meet his “bashert”). My dad really never talked much about ANY of his experiences, and in fact when we visited the Holocaust Museum in DC, he didn’t say a word. Their childhood home is still standing as I understand it. My aunt accepted reparations, but my dad wanted none of that “[blood money].”

Other posts on tragedies of families of the Holocaust

Other posts for Yom Hashoa

Notes on terms:
OBM – of blessed memory
z”l – zichrono l’bracha – of blessed memory
a”h – alav hashalom – rest in peace or peace upon him/her

16 thoughts on “Families of the Holocaust: Too Many Tragedies

  • Thank you for including my post.
    May we all be privileged to share only besurot tovot, yeshu’ot v’nechamot (good tidings, salvation, and consolation) from now on.

  • Thank you for this lovely tribute and for posting my link.

    It was difficult for me to even create a post, as I had relatives murdered in Lithuania, and put into a mass grave.

    This year, I decided to post that incredible poem, which for me, covered a range of emotions, from pain to hope and faith.

    • Thank you for saying so – my daughter was asking, what happens when the last of the survivors dies? Then it is our job to tell their story, we explained to her.

  • Thank you Leora for linking to my blog.
    The Holocaust Museum in Washington has a programme for school classes which uses photographs and stresses the idea that those who died were not numbers but people like them, children who shared the same kinds of lives and passions.

    • We were there a few years back (in the Holocaust Museum in Washington). They used one German Jewish child as the model, with the idea that the children could relate to that child.

    • I think Michael was pleased that I posted his family’s story – I guess if it is your own father, it really feels like it happened to you.

      Thanks for commenting, Carver.

  • Such intimate tributes are needed. Literature related to the Holocaust was never part of the curriculum I had to teach, but I’ve often wondered what I would have done as a teacher to help students truly understand the scope of all that happened.

    • There is a program at Rutgers called the Master Teacher Institute – it is designed to teach teachers about the Holocaust and how they can incorporate it into their teaching. New Jersey has a requirement that the Holocaust be taught in high school.

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