Holocaust Memorial Day

I am a guardian of memory for a women called Hendrina Goldsmith. Born in Coevorden, Netherlands on 5/1/1912 and murdered in Auschwitz on 17/1942, aged just 30.

Please think of someone you know and love of around that age and imagine them being taken from you. No one deserved that.

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Not heard of that Jane, how did you become a guardian of someone you never knew or had no connection to? Did her death coincide with or approximate your own birth perhaps?

It’s a project to make sure that everyone who was murdered in the holocaust has someone to light a candle for them and remember them once or twice a year… I know nothing about Hendrina apart from her name, place and date of birth and date she died. Although a common name it doesn’t seem as if any family survived her.

To me having someone specific to think about makes this history more real. And I am growing older and she is not, which also adds meaning.

http://guardianofthememory.org/about

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How did you know her details, such as they are, the list of names on that site does not give any? If you click on a name is that when you are given this information, and could you click on another to find someone with coincidental connection with you, to make it more personal?

I am a bit puzzled by Yom HaShoah, which seems to be a movable date whereas Holocaust Memorial Day is not.

I watched a documentary drama last night called the Eichmann Show. It was how the cameras were allowed to film in the courtroom at his trial and the people involved in the production. It was very graphic and of course disturbing. The main focus of the director was to study the facial expressions of Eichmann as he was made to watch, along with the rest of the court, the most awful film and testimony by survivors. He wanted to prove that he was just an ordinary man who would ultimately be touched by the enormity of his crimes. He felt he had failed in that endeavour.

Yom HaShoah is the jewish day of remembrance, and is held according to the hebrew calendar on the 27th of Nisan (usually falls in April or May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath, in which case the date is shifted by a day. The hebrew calendar is a lunar-solar calendar so everything shifts about - it’s a nightmare! I’m always getting it wrong and wishing people happy holidays on the wrong date.

Holocaust Memorial Day is the worldwide memorial day, so fixed according to Gregorian calendar which is a solar calendar so more static.

I just put a name I liked in the search box, and then chose one, I cross referenced with the Vad Yasheem online details of everyone they know was murdered, which you can search, to see if there was any suggestion of her having living family members. (Often if there is living family there will be a link to a testimony page). There wasn’t, so I guessed she might be the last of her family.

https://yvng.yadvashem.org/index.html?language=en&s_id=&s_lastName=Goldsmith&s_firstName=Hendrina&s_place=&s_dateOfBirth=&cluster=true

I am not sure why but this has struck a chord of interest in me. I am not Jewish but the similarity of my name has been mistaken for a Jewish one, once in an unwelcome way.

I am also not sure that I want to follow your example, it seems a very lonely thing to do and my wife would certainly not understand it.

However I did a search for someone who died on the day I was born, I feel some connection is necessary if I was to do it. I was not successful despite a long search but came up with a man who was murdered 2 days before my birth, but also born only 3 weeks after my Mum’s birth.

He was born in what is now Slovakia in a town which has 3 names, reflecting its melange of inhabitants and movement over preceding years, German, Czech and Hungarian. I know his mother’s maiden and married names and that they lived in Budapest from where he was forced into a Hungarian labour battalion. He died in western Russia.

A google of the town where he was born shows it to be charming, with a beautiful, but now unused, synagogue and a castle on the hill overlooking.

From the town’s website;

In 1940, 442 people out of 3,120 people lived in the city and professed the Jewish faith. However, after the liberation, almost no one returned to the city. The synagogue - the only one of the 14 preserved in Spiš - is currently used for cultural purposes (exhibitions, concerts) and in the future it is considering the establishment of a museum. The Association of Friends of Slovakia and the Peace Corps helped in its reconstruction and in the restoration of the Jewish cemetery.

As I said, not sure where this takes me, other than an unexpected interest in knowing more. Is there anything else involved in becoming a guardian other than a silent memory once a year?

I am in no way religious, although I am Jewish and my grandparents and mother fled Germany. Much of the rest of the family were not so lucky. So yes there is a personal connection for me, but I started doing it for entirely different reasons.

There is something about the modern world that forgets the individual in history, and can be totally indifferent to human suffering. And it also seems that many people are considered as not counting for anything, whereas I believe that every person counts. And of course, like with many other mistreated people, the jews had their names taken away from them in the concentration camps, they were just numbers.

I can’t manage to feel anything meaningful about huge statistics of disaster and death. But if I put my mind to thinking about one specific person it gives me perspective. So the idea really struck me as something positive I could do for myself, as a moment of contemplation, and is my tiny contribution to making sure these things are not forgotten.

Since I’m not religious and don’t believe in an afterlife I can’t really explain why it seems important that I light a candle and remember this women’s name once a year. But it does seem like that to me.

So to answer your question there is nothing more to it than that. It is part of the worldwide project to collect up the names of all who were murdered, as many are completely nameless. This particular initiative is quite British, and they like you to register your interest and give a donation (this is not mandatory). But you don’t have to do that at all. You can just take the concept and adapt it as you wish!

The other thing I do which perhaps might appeal to you is that I have taken upon myself to “adopt” a grave in a nearby cemetery. Living here I am obviously nowhere near any commemorations of my actual family (not that there are many). So I chose what seemed to be an unloved grave in a nice spot with a nice view. And every now and then if I feel the need I potter down there and tidy it up, and sit for a few minutes wondering about the person and what their life might have been like. And remembering my family members who have died. I find it a very peaceful and healing thing to do. One day I will look up the person but that’s not the most important for me (although I hope she turns out to be a good person!)

A slightly long reply!

This is the poem that is read on remembrance day

Unto every person there is a name
bestowed on him by God
and given to him by his parents.

Unto every person there is a name
accorded him by his stature
and type of smile
and style of dress.

Unto every person there is a name
conferred by the mountains
and the walls which surround him.

Unto every person there is a name
granted him by Fortune’s wheel
or that which neighbors call him.

Unto every person there is a name
assigned him by his failings
or contributed by his yearnings.

Unto every person there is a name
given to him by his enemies
or by his love.

Unto every person there is a name
derived from his celebrations
and his occupation.

Unto every person there is a name
presented him by the seasons
and his blindness.

Unto every person there is a name
which he receives from the sea
and is given to him by his death.

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That coincides exactly with my view though for me I think I would like to see if more can be found about the person I ‘chose’. I am not even sure if he is a he, but I think so.

So I will do a little digging, though not sure where to start, and I may take it further later.

BTW, his(?) name is Karoly Wald and was born on the 25th of July 1918 in Szepesvaralja in what is now Slovakia, but nowadays that town bears a different name, the one listed is the Hungarian variant and he and his mother later lived in Budapest from where he was forced into a labour battalion. He died in Oskina in Russia on the 27th of December in 1942. Thus he was a contemporary of my Mother and died while I was alive but preparing to emerge 2 days later. :wink:

I doubt he had children at 25 years of age, though he might have had, but also he might have had siblings. His mother’s maiden name was Hirsch which I think is not uncommon, I think Wald is probably fairly common too.

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How fascinating Jane!

I wouldn’t discount it, remember back then people married younger, bred younger, died younger 25 would probably be considered quite old to be getting started! I’d be interested to hear anything you find out David.

Yes, I don’t discount it, but just thought that the times might have deflected such things. The Nazis marched into Prague in '39 and the times must have been fraught before that, especially for Jews. Plus he did move with his mother to Budapest at some point and, although we don’t know when, it might have been flight, only to find himself conscripted into a forced labour battalion. I can’t imagine the impending sense of doom they must have felt watching what was happening next door, we have it easy, that or Covid, I know which I would choose.

A little more on Karoly’s story, but rather puzzling. A woman bearing the name of his mother (with the surname Wald) gave birth to a boy in 1893 to a man by the name of Spiegel. At first I thought that this must be a coincidence but did the maths and, as we don’t know her birth date, it is possible that this boy was a much older half brother of Karoly.

Both his mum and Mr. Spiegel died in 1944, I wonder if they suffered the same fate as her son. But the older boy, Miksa, obviously made it to the USA and married a woman from his Hungarian hometown (borders and names were a movable feast in those days), and they had one son, David Spiegel who died in 1995, so there may be living relatives, but that is as far as I have got.

Karoly’s half brother, if that was who Miksa was, died in New York in 1969.

Update: Miksa’s son, David Spiegel died in California in 1995. His gravestone mentions that he was a grandfather. One of his 2 sons was Steven Robert Spiegel, all of his family and details of his brother have been kept private.

So Karoly may after all have living relatives, His half great nephews and half great great nephews. I hope they are aware of him and his fate and a candle may yet burn once a year.

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I hope H.M.D continues in perpetuity. ‘That’ country must never be let off the hook. A.M. only took in a million refugees to gain brownie points (btw I read refugees with Residency Permits go home and sell them). I am mystified why some French I have met prefer people from ‘that’ country to the English (and no it’s not just me! they don’t like!) . The 118 Years War v. Gas Chambers? Chacun a son gout.

No, the dropping birthrate means Germany needs workers. And she is human, and not stupid.

And? (And where did you read it?)

Why never?

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[quote=“Pamela_Shields, post:12, topic:33541”]
That’ country must never be let off the hook
[/quote

As the child of a holocaust survivor I actually find that pretty offensive. My family were more German than Hitler was. My aunt, who survived Belsen, has devoted massive efforts to reconciliation and holds no grudge against “that country” - just the perpetrators.

This only through proper recognition of how these things are allowed to happen that they can be avoided for the future. Blanket disdain does no good.

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In any case, there is no need to forgive Germany. It’s forgiven itself. A YouGov Germany survey found that 70% of Germans believe their country has fully atoned for its past actions.
So that’s all right then.
“Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner.”
I do not agree.

I have never managed to get interested in learning about kings and queens, and dates and treaties. But I’ve found following a person’s story has been a fascinating way of understanding world events. It makes you think!

Karoly’s story, such little of it that I have discovered, has prompted me to re-visit my own historical family again to see if I can get further this time.

@Pamela_Shields . I don’t know what nationality you are, but I am English and I suppose you would like to condemn me in perpetuity for the British Empire and all its actions in enslaving millions.

And as far as French attitudes to Germans are concerned, I have found that, unlike many British people, they more frequently refer to Nazis, rather than Germans in their condemnation.
Sins of the fathers is a very old fashioned, and inapplicable, philosophy.

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They were probably not even foetuses at the time. Someone born half way through WWII is 80 this year after all.

No it hasn’t - “70% of Germans interviewed believe their country has fully atoned for its past actions”, which isn’t the same thing at all.

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This year the English date of Yom HaShoah, commemorating the lives and tragic events of the 6 million who died during the Shoah, is Thursday 8th April 2021. We will be lighting candles in memory of the individual victims of the Shoah on the evening of Wednesday 7th April 2021.