Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Holocaust memories kept fresh in rites here

It was 45 years ago, but for Harold Small and other survivors ofthe Holocaust, the memories are a yesterday away.

"It will always be just like yesterday in my mind," said Small,63, outside a Sunday memorial service in honor of the 6 million Jewswho did not survive World War II.

"I see it all happening in my mind all the time," said Small,who was a partisan worker in Poland at the age of 17 after escapingthe Nazi roundup of his family.

He remembered:

"For seven days, I hid under a tree in the forest with nothingto eat but snow. I did not move, and they killed 47 people in myfamily. . . . They were killing everyone."

But his is not an unusual story. Many of the 800 peopleattending the service at Congregation Shaare Tikvah, 5800 N. Kimball,lived a similar tale or have heard it from family members whosurvived.

The Chicago area has nearly 7,000 Holocaust survivors. Thosewho spoke during the solemn service Sunday warned the others to passon their stories to ensure that it will never happen again.

"It is a great tragedy in our lives, the massacre of 6 millionJews," said Abram Szwajger, president of the Holocaust Survivors ofMetropolitan Chicago, which sponsored the service. "But we mustremember and never forget . . . and we must hand over that legacy toour children and our grandchildren."

During the more than two-hour service, six candles were lit bysix survivors representing the millions lost in concentration camps.

By the time the last candle was lit by a small girl in honor ofthe more than 1.5 million children who were killed, the congregationwas filled with quiet sobbing heard behind the cantor's hymn.

"It is painful to remember," said Sol Silver, 68, of Skokie, whosurvived the death camp in Auschwitz, Poland. "But I remember everyday with the scars on my back that I went through these things . . .and I want people to know and to think always of that."

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