Story Walk: child

Story Walk: "child"

Child of Holocaust Survivors by Bonnie Abrams & Jonathan Rich


Bonnie Abrams: My mother, who is originally from Hungary, she was in Auschwitz, and my mother was among the people on a forced death march. And when she was too weak to walk she was lined up with, I don’t know, twenty, thirty other women to be shot, and when the machine gun went off she just fell on the bodies and was not hit. And after that, wandered into a town and a German woman took her in and nursed her back to health. My father was in, you know, six or seven concentration camps including Buchenwald and he also was on a death march and it was dark and he actually escaped. My father wandered into the same town. And that’s how they met.


Jonathan Rich: How would you position yourself among other survivors’ kids that we know, where would you compare yourself to other survivors kids?


Bonnie Abrams: I do believe that some of the survivors were so much more psychologically damaged for whatever reason than others that there was this, a pervasive darkness and fear in their homes, the children grew up kind of afraid of everything, and also hearing things that were never really said all the way. I think that those children of survivors are perhaps more damaged than I was because I had the good fortune of having parents, who when I asked them, they told me.   


Jonathan Rich: There’s a Jewish tradition called the Jahrzeit where we remember the dead, what do you visualize regarding your grandparents who were murdered?


Bonnie Abrams: I didn’t grow up going to Temple and learning the specific functionings of the various traditions, I knew my mother always lit a Jahrzeit candle, it’s a memorial candle, she always lit this candle around the time of her mother’s birthday. It wasn’t until years later when I talked to her about it that she said, “Well, I don’t know when my mother was killed. I don’t know when my father was killed.”


Jonathan Rich: Have you ever had conversations in your head with your grandparents?


Bonnie Abrams: Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, I wrote a song.

Grandma, grandpa, look at me

I’m climbing up the apple tree.

What’s it like to have a grandma?

Grandpa will you come with me

There’s something I want you to see.

What’s it like to have a grandpa?


Jonathan Rich: Do you think that the Holocaust will get repeated in some version or is there any hope that this will stop?


Bonnie Abrams: The young people, when I bring survivors to speak, when they are in positions of leadership, and there’s Holocaust education all over the world, that maybe they’ll say, “You know, maybe we’ll try to help this not happen anymore.” And that’s a hope I’d like to hang on to.


Grandma, grandma, can you see

Grandpa, grandpa, look at me

Although you’re gone our family lives on.