One of the most wonderful things about the truly amazing job of writing and editing for this local Jewish newspaper is the chance to meet some of the extraordinary people who live, work, or visit here.
Writers, thinkers, rabbis, teachers, musicians, hikers, cooks, photographers, paper cutters, bakers, spies, broadcasters, actors, mourners – this is just a partial list. Everybody has a backstory, a vocabulary, a worldview. They are all (okay, almost all, but overwhelmingly almost all) fascinating.
But then there are the Holocaust survivors. They are in another class entirely.
Sometimes it can be unnerving to talk to someone famous or accomplished. But no matter how much an honor it may be – it is! – it is never as humbling, as terrifying, and as soul-shattering as it is to talk to a survivor.
We have been honored to be allowed to interview many survivors over the years, and to have been entrusted with the sacred task of telling their stories. The last few weeks, leading up to and away from Yom HaShoah, have been particularly intense. Two weeks ago, we told the heartbreaking stories of Irene and Manny Buchman, this week, it’s the fascinating, picaresque story of Walter Krug.
The word “amazing” has been overused almost farcically during the last few years, but it’s literal in these and every other Shoah story.
We know that absolutely every Holocaust survivor has a story. No one survived without an entirely unique combination of luck, strength, and fortitude. Just as the poet Zelda told us that “Everyone has a name,” just as the Nazis tried to turn those names into numbers, so we also know that everyone has a story.
Survivors are indomitable. They are extraordinary. The rest of us cannot imagine ourselves in their nightmare trips, and we understand how lucky we are. We are grateful for the blessing of their shared stories.