I had planned to write something to commemorate Yom Ha'Shoah on Thursday. I thought about it all week. When it came to it though, I simply couldn't put anything into words. Anything and everything I thought of saying seemed trivial and flat and inadequate.
I have been reading "In the Days of Destruction and Revolt," by Zivia Lubetkin, one of the few surviving leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Revolt. I am reading it slowly, in small doses. I can only handle it in small doses because after more than a few paragraphs I have the overwhelming urge to throw something, to scream. To cry. She writes sparely, almost cryptically. But between each of her words and sentences lies a chasm of things unsaid, of experiences that aren't described because they can't be described. In her opening statement she notes "I cannot find the words to express my feelings. Words are unfit, they no longer have any value. They are the same words that were uttered before the war, and at its outset, and all through it. And now, after it is all over, we are forced to rely on those very same words."
Much of the book is her oral testimony given within days of her arrival in Israel (then Palestine) in June of 1946. Perhaps this lends the sense of immediacy to this book for me, as though these events happened "just a short while ago" and not 60 years past.
I want to mention Aharon Koninski. He ran a children's home for orphans in the Warsaw ghetto and worked with the underground movement. Like Janusz Korczak, he too voluntarily accompanied his children to the gas chambers at Treblinka so as to not leave them alone and frightened in their last moments. Lubetkin notes, "the name of Janusz Korczak has been remembered by the entire world, while that of Aharon Koninski has been forgotten."
No, not so. Zivia Lubetkin has made sure that he is remembered because I will now never forget the name and the sacrifice of Aharon Koninski.