The Holocaust Remembrance day is marked today (16-04-15) in Israel. Few months ago I wrote about the international remembrance day that was marked all over the world but not in Israel. As I already explained in my other blog, in Israel Yom HaShoah (the Holocaust Memorial Day) was scheduled close to the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Door: Ronie Barel

The debate about the Holocaust in the Israeli society is very complicated. Not all Israeli people are necessarily descendants of Holocaust survivors. But I think that most of us carry this national trauma as an integral part of our identity.  Many might think that the Shoah is a trauma which only happened to the European Ashkenazi Jews, and only took place in Europe. It is true that most of the horrible mass murders by the Nazis were on European soil, but it is not possible to ignore the rest of the Jewish people (and all people) who suffered directly from this war in other parts of the globe.

Since I don’t have Ashkenazi roots, for many years I always thought that I don’t have a direct connection with the Holocaust. For long time, (especially as a little girl) the Shoah stories that we all learned since day 1 in kindergarten and school, were other people’s stories and not mine or my family. But today, when I am older and a bit smarter I know that is not true. Even thought my grandparents were not in the horrible dead camps in Poland or Germany, the war and the Holocaust affected them as well.

My grandmother, from my mother side, who was from Tunisia managed to arrive to Palestine before the Nazis arrived to Tunisia. But her family who left behind was there once the German army occupied Tunisia. Her Brother was sent to a labour camp, and her brother in- law got killed by the Nazis only 18 days after marrying her sister, who later was recognized by the state of Israel as a Holocaust survivor. Another cousin of them was killed in the bombing of Tunis. My grandmother’s sister who lost her husband, later on remarried a polish man, a Holocaust survivor who fought the Nazis as a soldier in the Red army. My grandfather, who is from Egypt, was mobilized to the French navy in the age of 17 and fought against the Nazis throughout the war.

My grandparents from my father side lived in Barcelona back then. In Spain the Gestapo (The secret Nazi police) was preparing to slaughter all the Jews of Spain and was collecting information about them. They were making a list of all the Jews preparing for the day to send them to the dead camps in Poland. My grandparents and their family members were all in this list. Luckily the Germans couldn’t make this plan on time. Few of my grandfather family members escaped to Latin America in an attempt to save themselves.

So you see, in one way or another, most of us Jewish people are connected to this horrible time in history. This is our national trauma if we like or not, it is part of us. It is important to keep on talking with our grandparents, with Holocaust survivors and others who were there. We need to memorize their testimonies, write them down and tell them to our children. We must always remember and never forget.

Ronie Barel verhuisde van Israël naar Nederland en is blogger bij

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