Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Visit With History


Our year is coming to an end for ECBS. With the weather becoming colder and unpredictable, its difficult to work on the stones. This is also a time for us to wind down and take a break after the many activities and events over the past year.
At times, it seems, to me, anyway that we are banging our heads against very large brick walls. Why don't people feel as passionate as we do about the cemetery, the history it holds, and the stories it is waiting to tell? So many people say they do care, but then they fade away, like so many memories, and you have to wonder why? Why do we keep doing it? Why do we keep sacrificing our personal time from family and home, when no one really cares?
This Sunday, after taking some time off to tidy up our homes, Ingrid and I decided to take a break and fix some stones. We were able to fix two stones this afternoon. The cemetery was beautiful. The weather was perfect and the colors of red, orange and yellow decorated the grounds. There was a lot of activity out there today. From people visiting and working on their family plots to those unique looking (scary!) individuals taking photographs around some of the mausoleums.
Not so far from us was an older woman in a wheel chair and her granddaughter. They were tending a family site. We had seen them out there many times on the weekend and decided to introduce ourselves and share with them about ECBS and the Adopt a Block and Cemetery Watch programs.
The daughter's name was Irene and the mother's name was Barbara. Barbara spoke with a thick polish accent, her eyes, even at 90 sparkled with a bit of mischief. They were visiting Barbara's husband who had passed away 40 years ago. We were talking about her husband's love of animals as a very hungry squirrel kept us entertained. Then Barbara began to tell us a little about her life.
In 1939, at the beginning of WWII in Germany, working with the resistance, she was arrested as a political prisoner, and sentenced to death at Auschwitz Concentration Camp. She escaped her death from this hell on earth. Many of the memories I am sure she tries to forget. However, one small reminder, of that time, will never go away. She carefully pushed up the sleeve of her white sweater. There, marked for the rest of her life, was her tatoo. Her number from the concentration camp ( click the link to read how and why this was done). Even though the temperature was warm, a chill went up my spine. One can only imagine the horrors this beautiful woman lived through, to tell us her story. This is history. History that must be remembered and shared with others.
This is why we sacrifice our personal and family time. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of that!

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