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"Rene's Promise..."

 Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"I touched the scar on my left forearm, just below the elbow. I had the tattoo surgically removed. There were so many people who didn't know and so many questions: "What do those numbers mean?"... "Is that your address?" ... "Is that your phone number?"...What was I supposed to say "That was my name for three years and fourty-one days" ?...

I love to read...a lot...when I was younger my mother used to take me to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army and I would stock up on about 20 or 30 books at a time...reading one after another...It wasn't soon after that I picked up a pencil for the first time to discover my love of writing...I have always loved getting lost in the words of the book...the story...the characters....I often times feel a sense of sadness when a really good books ends...but love happy endings...and no matter how good or bad your life may seem at times it is always a relief to jump into a alternate made up world for just a short time...in my short lifetime of reading, I have read many books that I have been so intriqued with that I felt like I just couldnt put it down...all you book nerds out there know exactly what I am talking about...you tell yourself just one more page...well, one more page turns into 5 pages...which in return turns into a whole chapter...and then 2 chapters...and before you know it, it is 2 in the morning and you have to be up in 4 hours to begin your day...

Very rarely do I come across a book that I feel that I need to tell people about...much less in my blog...but I have just finished a book called "Rena's Promise: Two sisters in Auschwitz" ... I have been so touched by this book that I am compelled to write about it in the hopes that you..my readers....will want to pick this book up and read about one woman's incredible journey of survival in one of the most hellish of places... but more so than that...of how the Germans stripped her of her dentity and in it's place was given a number...but she never lost what was in her heart...I have always been a lover of all things history...particularly anything from the 1920's to 1940's era, WWII and the Holocaust...so when my kindle recommended this book I instantly hit the "Buy" button...it also didn't hurt that it was on sale for $1.99...

I was instantly introduced to Rena Kornreich...she was on the very first transport into the most brutal of death camps..Auschwitz...the book recounts her 3 years and 41 days in the camp until the day of her realease... May 2nd, 1945...It recounted day after day...the brutality...the harsh conditions..I expected all this as I have read many Holocaust books before...what I did not expect to find was a book that showed so much about human kindness and compassion...

As Rena first entered into Auschwitz...I am struck by how nieve her and the other women on the transport are...they had no idea as to what they were headed to...Rena was engaged at the time to be married...in her mind she fully thought that she would turn herself in...work out a possible 6 month to a year sentence...and then be released so that she could continue on with her life...she thought she would see her parents again..her family...marry and have children...

"How are we going to find our suitcases later?" I figure I'm a human being, I have a right to ask. "Get in line and shut up!" he yells in my face, pointing his gun at me. The hair on my skin bristles. He doesn't see that I am human...." - (This was as Rena was getting off the train in Auschwitz)


Only about 6 months into her stay there did she realize...she would most likely die there...that no one that was ever brought into Auschwitz was meant to leave...her younger sister Danka soon arrives on a later transport where Rena grabs her up and vows to protect her at all costs...she had also made that same vow to her mother...and she was going to keep it..even if it killed her...

"Mama, I brought you the baby back. I repeat it over and over in my head. It is the refrain to the song that keeps me strong and healthy and spirited: Mama, I brought you the baby back. My one great feat in life, my fate, is to survive this thing and return triumphant with my sister to our parents' house. My dream cannot be marred by German whips or chains or rules. I will succeed because I have no other choice. Failure does not even occur to me, We may die in the interim-death cannot be avoided here-but even that will not dissuade me from my sole purpose in life. Nothing else matters but these four things: be with Danka, be invisible, be alert, be numb..."

As I continued reading...there is one other thing that really stuck out to me...the willingness of the people to help one another...after starvation...beatings...and near death...the people in the camp took care of one another...had compassion for each other...In one part of the book, Rene found a tiny sliver of potato on the ground...instead of hoarding it for herself...she split the small portion of potato in half between herself and her sister...in a time when most would have been selfish...she cared more for her sister than her own self...men flirted with death and being beat just to steal a half of a sausage..then risk their own life to somehow sneak it to Rena and her fellow workers...in our world, these are only tiny acts of kindness...but in Rena's, these acts of kindness was the difference between life or death...

I cannot help but to think that our world  in this day and age lacks that kind of compassion for one another...I realize that we do not have to endure the harshness of what these people had to endure..but in the same retrospect...I wonder if our generation had to undergo something of the same magnitude...would we as individuals do that same for our fellow women or man? Would we risk getting 25 lashes on our back just to stiffle a small piece of sausage to a complete stranger? Would we risk getting such a severe beating that we are almost blinded in one eye just to steal 1 potato to feed our sister or brother? Would we risk being sent to the gas chamber just to send a tiny barely there written note with our name and where we are from to another complete stranger...just so someone would know we were there? At a time when most people would go into self survival mode...and our human nature of selfishness would show...these people had so much compassion for one another....As I read this book...I asked myself these questions...and as good of a person as I try to be...I honestly dont know the answers...I would like to say that I would...but you never know until you are put into these type of situations...and chances are...we will never have to make these type of decisions...but what if we did...would you be able to do these kinds of things for a complete stranger...a friend...your sister...

I have no doubt in my mind after reading this book that human compassion is the only reason Rena and Danka survived Auschwitz...that and her complete resolve to protect her sister and bring her home...I would highly encourage each and every person to read this book...I believe that we all need to be reminded of how kindness and love are still prevalant in the world...even in the most brutal of conditions...


                  

                                                             (Rene & Danka)







2 comments:

Dana Graves April 5, 2012 at 1:27 PM  

I put this book on my list btw. I will be reading it soon. :)

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