Paula R. Stern
A Soldier's Mother
03 July '11
This is a follow-up post to my recent one on Hedy Epstein. There were so many comments, I thought I should answer one here. A former acquaintance wrote in, others did to - but one comment - yet again from an "Anonymous" - got to me with its simplicity and it anger.
Anonymous wrote: Who the hell are you to judge what justifies surviving the holocaust?
I would answer that by saying simply - Hedy is as much a survivor of the Holocaust as my grandfather, and thousands of others refugees and people who suffered tremendous loss as a result of the Nazi plan. Yes, if you count them all - we number in the millions because, after all, isn't my husband a survivor? His siblings, cousins. Aren't I then a survivor too? My husband wasn't even born and yet his grandparents suffered the same fate as Hedy's parents and my husband's parents suffered a hell of a lot more than Hedy - THEY were survivors.
My mother-in-law was in Auschwitz. She lost her mother and sister there; she survived months of labor and near-starvation there. They put her in a gas chamber and as they closed the door to end her life, and thus deny the future of her children and mine, the Nazis pulled open the door to grab out a few more women for a work detail. In their cursed efficiency, it wasn't a mistake they made often, but it saved the lives of my mother-in-law and her sister. They pulled her out of the gas chambers, but the memory of Auschwitz never left her.
My husband is the child of a survivor. Hedy is not even that - because her parents didn't survive. She did not survive a ghetto or a concentration camp. She did not spend the rest of her life dealing with that element of her parents' reality. My mother-in-law showered her grandchildren with love but it was harder for her to express her tremendous and deep love for her own children. For her, the Germans were always a day away; always watching, waiting. She didn't like attention brought to her family; the Nazis were never really gone.
Hedy Epstein was lucky, so blessed - to be saved early on - in 1939 before Hitler's full plan to murder Jews was realized. She carries no tattoo - as my husband's uncle does; she cannot bear witness to the horrors of the gas chambers as my mother-in-law did until her dying day.
For many years, I told people I had no survivors in my family...until I realized that was because NO ONE SURVIVED. We lost hundreds of relatives in Poland and Russia - in numbers to great to count (my father estimates about 300); names, faces and families lost forever. A great-grandmother and two great aunts - did they have children? We don't know. Did my great-grandmother have brothers and sisters? Did they have children - all gone? That puts me in the same category as Hedy - no? Am I am not a survivor? I am the child, the grandchild, the daughter-in-law of those who suffered and lived with their suffering for decades after.
Hedy Epstein uses the title "Holocaust survivor" to further her agenda - and I find that despicable. She ignores the plight of one young Jewish boy turned man while in captivity - Gilad Shalit, while floating along for her people's enemy.
If the Palestinians are not her enemy - that is because she has no empathy for the hundreds of thousands of Israelis under daily rocket fire - another fired this morning at southern Israel. Where is Hedy's voice for Gilad? She is silent. Where is Hedy's voice for the Jews living in Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, etc.? She is silent.
Her silence condemns her for what she is - a fraud.
A survivor is not a child who escaped and was given refuge before the Nazis even implemented their plan. A survivor is one who survived despite all efforts to kill them. To her great blessing, no one tried to kill Hedy Epstein. She lost her parents in the Holocaust - that makes her an orphan, not a survivor.
She is silent about Gilad - that makes her a pathetic excuse for a human being and certainly NOT a humanitarian.
Are my words too strong? Too filled with anger? - Good - perhaps I am finally getting to the proper level of disgust I feel for this woman who would use and abuse the memory of the darkest days of my people, to further her political agenda.
She dares...DARES...to compare Israeli soldiers to Nazis? That alone proves her incredibly ignorance. Shame, shame on Hedy Epstein and on that final day when she goes to meet her maker, I pray that He stands before her surrounded by the true Holocaust survivors. I know in my heart, at the forefront of those accusers, will be Hedy's parents, who mourn every day, her blind hatred of her own roots.
She has betrayed not just Israel and the Jewish people - she has betrayed all that worked to save her miserable life and those who did save her, know deep in their hearts, another Jewish child died so that Hedy could have her place. Perhaps worst of all - she betrayed that child as well.
If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.