Autobiographies from the Dead – Ephraim the Jew  

For the next several weeks, my blogs are going to consist of “autobiographies” written by some very special people.  They have one thing in common.  They are all dead.  Some have a burial place and some were simply discarded like pieces of trash.  Their stories will be told by the deceased themselves.  They cry out from the fields, rivers and graveyards to speak.  I have heard their cries.  They want to tell their stories to you.  They want you to know what their living and dying was for.  They chose me to be the medium for their voices to be conveyed to you.  I do not know why or how I was chosen.  I do nothing but repeat in 12 pt. font the stories that they tell me.  There are many more dead who want to be heard, but for now I have only agreed to share eight of their tales.  Each of the dead will give you a brief vision of their lives but much more importantly to them, they will give you a vision of their deaths.

Ephraim the Jew

jewish shadowMy name is Ephraim. I was born to a Jewish mother and a Jewish father in Germany.  My parents and great grandparents were all born in Germany.  We were not rich but we made a living over the years in various trades.  My family was all hard workers and I was taught the value of hard work and an education at an early age.  We were proud to be Germans.  My father had served with distinction in WW I and my great grandfather had served in the earlier Franco Prussian war.  We had many musicians and writers in our family and were proud that we could contribute to the rich German cultural heritage of our homeland.

HumiliationOne day, some young men started throwing stones at my father and me as we came home from work.  We arrived home with bruises and cuts but no broken bones.  My mother said that things were getting worse for Jews in Germany and that she had heard of many such incidents from other friends.  My father said she was being an old woman and should not worry so much.  This was just the result of a bunch of hoodlums and the government would soon arrest such bullies so that the streets would be safe again.

Weeks and months went by.  More assaults!  More bullying!  Everywhere we turned it seemed that people hated us.  The government passed Pro-German Laws to protect “Pure” Germans.  Somehow this seemed to mean that we Jews were now the enemies.  We were no longer Germans.  Our businesses were taken away from us.  Our jobs were taken away from us.  Then they took our freedom away from us.

trainsThey took us in trains to these large detention centers.  Smoke and flames were visible from numerous chimneys when we arrived.  Some people whispered that these were Jews who had been cremated.  It was too horrible to conceive.  It could not be true.  We were whipped, kicked and herded off the rail cars.  An angry looking German soldier in a black uniform with skulls and lightning bolts directed each person either to the right or to the left when we fled the cars.  Women and young children went one direction.  Men and young boys went the other direction.  My mother and sister went to the right.  They waved and said good bye.  “We will see you soon.”  “We must go to the showers first.”  We never saw them again.

The-last-Jew-in-Vinnitsa-1941My dad and I were assigned to work details.  Food was meager and work was hard.  We labored with very little rations from before sunrise to well after sunset.  My father died a year later.  He was nothing but skin and bones.  He said: “I am sorry.”  Another year later and I could not get up and go to work.  The guards came for me one day and said, “You are garbage and you are no longer useful.”  Two other Jews were forced to pick me up.  They carried me to a large pit.  I noticed many other bodies in the pit.  They threw me in the pit with the other bodies.  A holocaust-bodies-mass-graveguard shot me three times.  “Like shooting fish in a barrel he said.”  I was shot once in the head and twice in the chest.  He laughed as I twitched and as the blood oozed out of my veins.  I was surprised that it did not hurt as much as I thought it would.  I could feel my soul leaving my body.

Finally, I was looking down at my distorted figure and it was no longer twitching.  Even the blood had stopped oozing out.  The guard who shot me had lit a cigarette and was enjoying a quick smoke before returning to another work detail.  I watched for a while as other men and boys were carried to the pit and murdered.  I could no longer bear to look.  I decided to go find God and talk to him.  I was confused and angry but I thought that perhaps a talk with God might straighten things out.  My spirit left this hell on earth.

I am dead looking for godmany years now and I am still searching for God.  I want to know what we did to deserve such a fate.  We worked hard.  We paid our taxes.  We treated our fellow Germans with respect.  We worshipped on the Sabbath.  We upheld all of the commandments.  We were good people.  We were good Germans.  Why did they hate us so?  What did we do to cause this suffering?  Was this some kind of a test?

I think God is hiding from me.  He is nowhere to be found.  I have wandered now for years and still I find no God.  I know he exists.  I believe in God but I think he is avoiding me.  I think he may be ashamed for letting this happen.  I swear my soul will never rest until I find God and ask him this question:  “Why?”  But what if he doesn’t know the answer?

Time for Questions:

What is an Anti-Semite? Why do people still hate Jews? What did any Jews ever do to deserve such a fate?  Are you an Anti-Semite?  What can you do to help fight Anti-Semitism?  Do you try? Why not?

Life is just beginning.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”  ― Elie Wiesel

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol Searing
    Jul 22, 2015 @ 03:14:41

    Thank you John. Very thought-provoking. I’m still contemplating your questions. I look forward to the next autobiographies you’ll be sharing.
    cs

    Reply

  2. Jeanine
    Aug 13, 2015 @ 00:55:11

    Anti-Semites harbor an intense dislike for and prejudice against Jewish people and it is beyond my comprehension how anyone could hate a whole race based on their nationality or religious belief. The Jews did not do anything to deserve the atrocities that were inflicted upon them during the Holocaust, nor do they deserve the hatred that is still being directed toward them by anti-Semites. I think we can all do our part by not making comments like, “Jewing a person down”, or buying into some of the ideas that when a person of Jewish descent is trying to make a better deal, they are being a Jew. We can each do our part by not standing still when we hear what some may believe are harmless anti-Semitic remarks. ALL derogatory remarks, be them about people of color, other religious beliefs, Asian cultures and other nationalities, should be met with disdain. It may be a small part, but we have to start somewhere.

    Reply

  3. ggorman10
    Sep 11, 2015 @ 17:25:08

    This is very thought provoking anecdote. But like most anecdotes, the focus is specific to the tale being told. During a walk in the garden at night, while viewing it with a flash light, one might think a garden is all roses, or weeds, or sunflowers depending on what is being highlighted. So too, it is with racial/ethnic/religious/political prejudice. What all these adjectives have in common, is that each belong to an identifiable group, a clan if you will.
    In nature, humans included, the clan is normally ostracized from the larger community. How many early settlers came to America because of ostracism, imposed or self-imposed?
    Whether you be poor or rich, powerful or strong, if your part of a unique sub-culture, you are vulnerable. The list of ethnic/religious/etc. cleansing is very long indeed. When you look at it, you’ll see that their reasons are just as numerous. So the human mind is clever enough to find a good reason to distrust those that are clannish and separate from us.
    Hopefully these thoughts of the past, might help us understand our current feelings towards, Muslims, Arabs, Chinese, Mexicans, Russians, Iranians, etc., etc., How has the media, your friends, your culture hindered you from seeing their humanity. Can you see these folks as loving husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers? Can you see them around a family dinner discussing their daily affairs, or the meaning of life?
    My most cherished belief is that human harmony will arrive when we widen our eyes and hearts to see and feel our own humanity in the eyes of others.

    Reply

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