“Did any of our relatives die in the Holocaust?”
I posed this question to my cousin, Fred, who is keeping up with the family genealogy. I wanted to know prior to attending an event featuring a Holocaust survivor who would relay her powerful story.
He told me most of my direct ancestors, with the Jewish surname, Adler, arrived in the United States around 1855, so they escaped the terror in Europe at the hands of German leader, Adolph Hitler.
Great-Great Grandfather, Leopold Adler, emigrated from Baden, Germany to Chicago where he established roots as a clothing merchant.
I was relieved, but it didn’t take away the pain I feel when I hear stories about the Holocaust.
They’re still my people.
Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, now the Leah and Paul Lewis Chair of Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas, Dallas, was a child living in Hungary when Adolph Hitler began deporting Jews to concentration camps. Her father’s business was closed by the Germans. For safety, her family was forced to move from their smaller Hungarian town to Budapest, Hungary, where they bought some time but ended up in German constructed ghettos. When the Germans initiated deportation in Budapest, they fled for their lives, and were only able to survive because a childhood babysitter brought them food. You can read more about Zsuzsanna’s story in her book, When the Danube Ran Red.
The account of her experiences was gripping, and I was speechless when I met this brave woman afterwards. What could I say other than “I’m so sorry.” No one should ever have to endure this kind of persecution. No leader should ever be allowed to exterminate innocent people. Records approximate six million Jews were killed in Nazi concentration camps. That is six million too many.
Afterward Zsuzsanna exited the stage, our Jewish Ministries pastor, Dr. Greg Stone, said the church needs to remember the Holocaust and must never let it happen again.
Genesis 12:3 says, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” There’s a blessing that comes from honoring God’s chosen people, the Jews.
As, I continue to study my own Jewish roots, I cannot ignore the Holocaust. I am grateful my great-great grandfather made the bold decision to cross the Atlantic to a new land. If he had not, the horrifying truth is I probably would not be alive and this blog would be nothing more than a pile of ashes.
Have you ever looked back on your life to realize what had to happen for you to be born? Have you thought about the hardships your ancestors went through to survive?
If you just drew in breath, it is because of God’s grace. Thank him today for your life. Praise him today for your forefathers. Ask him to bless the generations to come.
“..For I, the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Deuteronomy 5:9).