Remembering Those Lost In The Holocaust

Seeing as yesterday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 71st anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, it is only fitting that we take some time to remember those whose lives were so tragically taken away, all too soon. I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to listen to Michael Marder, a Holocaust survivor, share his personal story yesterday afternoon. This incredible man was able to survive nine different concentration camps, but unfortunately, no one in his immediate family had such luck.

Hearing Michael Marder tell his story reminded me of just how important it is to continue to share such stories so that we never forget about the atrocities that took place not too long ago. And with that, I’d like to introduce you to part of the Gottheim family. The woman in the photo is my great aunt (my grandmother’s mother’s sister), and pictured alongside her is her husband and three children. Unfortunately, they were never given the opportunity to tell their names, so all I have is a last name to go off of.

The Gottheims lived in Poland, but upon hearing of a potential German invasion, they made the necessary plans to make the trip to America by boat. When they arrived to the docks, each member of the family was inspected to make sure that they were in good enough condition to travel. However, as it turns out, one of the children had an ear infection and wasn’t allowed to board the ship. The father told the mother to take the other two children to America, and he would follow shortly after, once the child recuperated. The mother refused, and instead suggested that the father take the other two children to America, and she would follow shortly after, once the child recuperated. The father also refused, and the general consensus was to wait it out together, and make the trip as a family, once the child got better.

Unfortunately for the Gottheims, the German invasion came sooner than they had expected, and the family was murdered in their home before they were able to escape to America.

11 million people were killed during the Holocaust, 1.1 million of whom were children. 6 million of these individuals were Jewish, and others who were targeted and murdered include persons with disabilities, people from the LGBTQ community, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roma, Slavs, political opponents, and plenty others. So many of these people died without their stories being told, which means to us, they will sadly forever be nameless and faceless. Like the Gottheims, millions of lives were cut short, and who knows what kind of greatness these people could have gone on to achieve?

One would think that we have since learned from the Holocaust, but it was not the first act of genocide to take place in the world, and unfortunately, it was not the last. If we do not remember the atrocities that were carried out just a few decades ago, we will be bound to have history repeat itself. We must never forget the Holocaust, and we must always speak up whenever we see any one person or any group of people being targeted by others. We owe this to the Gottheims, to all of the people who perished during the Holocaust, and to the survivors like Michael Marder who have dedicated their lives to spreading the word about the inhumane treatment they endured.

Martin Neimöller, a well-known pastor once exclaimed:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

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Barcelona, Spain: Port Olímpic

Upon leaving Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, my sister and I boarded the hop-on/hop-off bus and made our way to Port Olímpic. Before arriving, we passed the Mirador de Colom at the lower end of La Rambla.

This statue of Christopher Columbus (which is said to be the largest in the world) was built in time for the Universal Exposition of Barcelona in 1888, which payed tribute to Columbus’s first trip to the Americas. Seeing as he reported back to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in Barcelona after the trip, it is fitting for the statue to be placed here.

The statue has Columbus pointed with his right hand to the New World, as he holds a scroll in his left hand. However, instead of pointing west, Columbus is actually pointing southeast, which is the direction of his home in Genoa.

As we the bus tour continued, we passed “Gambrinus,” a thirty-two foot lobster, which inspired the mascot for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. We also passed “The Head,” which is a 50 foot sculpture, also designed in time for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

We then drove past La Vila Olímpica del Poblenou by Port Olímpic, which was a residential area the Olympic Village where the olympians stayed during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The area has since been turned into apartment complexes alongside the port (which are much more expensive now than when they were first built for the olympics).

Rest In Peace Mami Leo

On Saturday, I wrote about an important figure, not only in my life, but in the lives of countless people across the world. Leonor Portela, also known as Mami Leo saved thousands of lives in Guatemala after moving there to start a home for abandoned, neglected, malnourished, and abused children. With only $2,000 to her name, she picked up and left her life in America to start a new life in Guatemala, a country in which she had no connection to whatsoever before moving there. On Sunday evening at 7:12 p.m. Guatemalan time, Mami Leo passed away peacefully, surrounded by so many of the children whom she loved so dearly. I’ve included a link in this post that shows a brief video of some of the incredible work that Mami Leo has done. Keep in mind, the video only talks about the neurological center that she started to help children with neurological disorders; it doesn’t even mention the orphanage that she also started on her own!

Mami Leo was truly an incredible woman who was relentless in putting the lives of children in need before her own. She worked tirelessly to provide so many children with a home to call their own. But more importantly, she gave them love which is something that so many of them were missing for so long before arriving at the home. Thanks to Mami Leo’s love and devotion, I can honestly say the world has become a better place. I am so fortunate to have had her be a part of my life and I can only hope to be even just half of the person she was. I will forever be grateful for the example she set for each of us and I hope that our continuation of her work will forever make her proud.

http://youtu.be/h0mi8kCMyZ0

A family friend recently shared this quote with me and it has provided me with great comfort. I hope it can be helpful to someone else in their time of need too.

“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again! ”
-Henry Scott Holland