Revenge on Hitler

MANCHESTER-based Holocaust survivor Jack Aizenberg, who died this week, epitomised those who lived to tell the story. That band of brothers and sisters is rapidly diminishing. Soon, there will be no-one remaining who witnessed at first hand the horrors of Nazi Germany and the concentration camps. But Mr Aizenberg, like other survivors, despite losing his entire family in the Holocaust, turned his personal tragedy into a positive. Proudly celebrating his grandson’s barmitzvah he explained that this was his “revenge” on Hitler and the Nazis, as was surviving the Holocaust and producing two children and three grandchildren.

Similarly, he said that “the beauty” of returning to places like his childhood home town in Poland was that “it is vengeance against Hitler. I’m alive and maybe I deserve it, but the memories are painful. God looked after the survivors and me. The survivors are not ordinary people — they went through hell”.

Mr Aizenberg, and others who were able to survive that hell, did not suffer survivor guilt. They believed that they had been spared for a reason. Some became more religious, others did not, but all eventually felt a duty painfully — and often later in life — to recount their experiences in the hope that never again would an evil like Nazi Germany be able to flourish while the world looked on.

Often, those visiting Auschwitz for the first time during the annual March of the Living, which has just taken place, are appalled to see youngsters singing a dancing, playing guitars and picnicking on the blood-soaked soil of the former Nazi death camp. But, for them, as with Mr Aizenberg, as the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those Hitler failed to wipe out, this is the very antithesis of what the fuhrer sought to achieve — flourishing world Jewry with youngsters able to practise the religion that the Nazis wanted not only to suppress but to eliminate entirely. As Mr Aizenberg so aptly described it . . . this is our collective revenge and the certainty that good eventually triumphs over evil.

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