Hungary, Hungry, and The Hunger Games

26 Mar
I can’t tell you how impressed I was with Helen Handler. It was my first time listening to a holocaust survivor tell their story. I sat there in awe of her tale of survival.  How a 5th generation Hungarian Jew from a well-educated successful family finds herself alone at 15 in the Auschwitz camp. The word hunger crept up from “Hungarian” to hungry, to my st…omach growling, and then to the Hunger Games.  Thinking about the Nazi’s killing in gas chambers to kids killing kids for food for their districts.  Helen described how they would have “coffee” that wasn’t anything but warm for breakfast, a rotten vegetable soup (which if they were lucky would have a piece of potato in it the size of a pea) for lunch and slice of stale bread with butter for dinner.   I then look to the Hunger Games where Katniss and Rue were cooking up a dead squirrel or rat for dinner.  Helen said the Nazis told they shall eat rotten vegetable soup because they were rats.  Tonight, the discussion of freedom will be our topic.  How lucky we are to be safe in our homes and with our families.  How lucky we are to have food and peace at home.  With Passover around the corner, we can reflect on thousands of years of Jewish survival and renewal. In June when my mother and I go to Auschwitz, I will arrive with a different perspective.  I will think about how Helen arrived after standing for four days in a crowded cattle car only to be permanently separated from her family minutes later.  It is all pretty heavy but important to hear and never forget.

Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Poland, Poland and Lithuania


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2 responses to “Hungary, Hungry, and The Hunger Games

  1. Stella Zack

    April 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    I had not read this blog until now… When I went to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC many things affected me because there was much I knew about from history class and family history but much that I didn’t because it was never detailed in any history class… One of the things that affected me greatly was the cattle car that they had on display. I think of the size of the ones we see today and was shocked at the size of the one on display…It was very small and to think of how many people were crowded into it….I closed my eyes and could literally feel the pain and terror. I was talking to my sister-in-law who shared a story with me about her father’s experience in WWII…He would not talk about anything from the war but Debbies mom was in the hospital and her roommate was a holocaust survivor. Debbie remembers being in the room when her mother told her father about it and they discovered that her father had been part of the group that liberated the camp that the roommate was in. Her father ans this woman cried together and he took her hands and said to her “we will never talk about this again, right?” to which she replied “right” She was discharged the next morning so Debbie could not find any other information. We are at the end of the generation who know first hand what happened between 1939 and 1945 and cannot let the history disappear.

    • Beth Katz

      April 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Stella, I heard the same that the cattle cars were tiny. It must have been terror. What an incredible story about Debbie’s father. It is interesting how the survivors deal with moving forward or just don’t. I think they have been scared for life and for some not talking is their best solution to keep themselves strong. Others like Helen wants to teach the world about her experience and not to ever let it happen again. It is so personal, I don’t know how I would feel if it was me. Such a horrible time in our world history. Thanks for the comment. xxoo


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