Normally I keep our most meaningful and personal interactions private. After all, you are my mother and our conversations are not meant for the ears or eyes of others. However, today as we remember those who perished in the Holocaust, in light of our most recent conversation I write this letter, a letter I will first read to you and then with your permission share with others.
There are some emotions so personal that there is nothing constructive nor appropriate in sharing them with others. But when these emotions are generated by something so universally understood and accepted, sharing them is not only appropriate, it’s positive and even beneficial to make them known. I write this only a few minutes after having spoken with you and having heard the deep sadness and emotion in your voice. As someone who lived in Holland through those horrific years of Nazi occupation, and being someone who lost loved ones, it is not only normal for you to feel as you do, it reflects a balance and sanity I dare say is partially responsible for the fact that you are still alive and well at 94. I write this however to relay something positive that is most certainly lost on you as you partially relive and acknowledge the tragedy of 1940-1945.
You are not only important to those who love you. You are important to the Jewish people and to all of civilization. You, my mother who I love dearly are the symbol of strength, courage, decency, but most importantly on this day, survival. You look at the book of names of the Dutch Jewish victims, more than 100,000 of what was once more than 140,000, many of them children, and ask why? Why did they have to be killed? Why did you survive? No one can ever answer the question of why they were killed, but I will venture to give an answer as to why you survived.
The life you have lived is a life that has been representative of hope and continuation. None of this has anything to do with with merit. There are many who died who did not deserve it, as there were Nazis that survived who did not deserve life. However, you have lived and thankfully continue to live a life in which you not only have given honor and respect to those who were lost, you also have made your days count. You together with Dad, of blessed memory brought a wonderful family into this world that continues to not only grow, but to contribute positively. Your life and your actions are more of a sacred testimony and remembrance to the victims than any prayer you will say tomorrow in synagogue.
No one can ever change what happened, but your life as it has been and continues to be is everything it should be from someone who was fortunate enough to survive the Holocaust. I am honored to be your son and love you very much.
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Written by David Groen
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