27th January.In Memory of a Gentle Sir and his story

memoryday_27januaryOn the 27th january the whole Europe remembers the Shoah-the tragedy of the Holocaust who took place over the Second World War.  As a child very interested in History, the diary of Anne Frank and Primo Levi‘s book had made me understand that a terrible tragedy happened. But I wanted to know more. My mum decided to take me to Brasov’s Jewish Temple to meet a very special person. He was an old survivor of the  nazi camps. A memory I now have the chance to share with all of you.


Mum, grandma and me were on holiday in Brasov, Romania. This city has a very long tradition of cross culture, and many communities enjoy living there. Among them, the Jewish, a culture wich I was taught to respect as all the others. They took me to this magnificent holy building near the historic centre of the old city. An ancient Sir appeared at the Gates. He wasn’t very tall, a solid, gentle man who could have been my granpa. I remember him with glasses and with that special jewish hat that was new to me. He could have been seventy already, while I was only 11.


He asked us why we went there, as he knew we weren’t part of his community. He kept looking at me gently, but I noticed his eyes were inespressive, and wondered if he smiled or cried ever. My mum explained him I wanted to know the truth about the Shoah. He introduced us that he survived the terrible experience as well as his wife. He started moving his sleeve after opening the doors of the Temple. Amazed by that beauty, I didn’t have the time to read clearly the series of the numbers on the tatto of his arm. He covered them too quickly, to avoid scaring me.



It was enough however to ask him: ” Please, tell me your story, I want to listen, I want to know”. Very slowly and gently he told me “Why do you want to know?” and I replied “Because I want to remember, and tell the truth”. Now  I guess this was my beginning in journalism, but at that time I would have never imagined it. He started counting us of his long prisony away from his wife, on cold camps of Russia and also at Birkenau.


His wife got to Auschwitz, and still, even if she had survived, couldn’t talk about that terrible period of her life. She told him that on the day of the closing of the camp because the Russian were approaching, the Nazi left the prisoners alone with the kitchens full of bread. Longing for foofd, all those who could grabbed to eat. She was a little behind and that was her luck, because as soon as the others were eating, they would fall to the ground in terrible pain and died, as the bread and potatoes were all poisoned. That was how she saved.


I started crying and he told me that I didn’t need to be sad, he and his wife would have been happy just if I remembered their story and counted it, and to show me he was really fine, he took my hand and walked me inside the temple. Women are not allowed on the ground floor to the altar. I remember how big , white and beautiful everything was, and the star on the altar. A great gift to a little girl he didn’t knew.


When I was back at school I wrote the story and read it many times in all the classrooms, until Ifinished the high school. Now, after University, where different cultures, writing and geography were my main interests, I share it with all of you. In their gentle Memory, to remember all of who never left the camps, but live in the memories of the survivors. Near the city were I’ve grown up there’s the terrible camp of Fossoli, where many were interned before leaving to death.


I will never forget and hope this little tribute will help  to keep alive the Shoah Memory, as well as all the terrible genocides that happened throughout our history and still occurr in different places of the World. I believe it’s a social, moral and in my case personal duty.






About Odile Milton

I travel through words whenever possible. Odile Milton is my signature on the web as I wanted an alter ego to indicate only my writings and works, not my personal life. Odile like the dancer in black swan, and Milton from the novel An old-fashioned girl. View all posts by Odile Milton

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