Wake Me From This Nightmare

A couple of days ago I was working on my blog, (updating labels and other completely boring tasks), when Blogger does what it sometimes does... something strange. This post originally went up almost a year ago, but for some reason Blogger decided that it would enjoy moving it up again to my most recent post spot. Hmmmm.Since I dont' know how to get it back where it belongs... and since I don't believe in coincidences I decided to share it with you once again. After all, they are words that can stand to be heard over and over. Enjoy :)

Marion Blumenthal Lazan
 A week or so ago the local town paper arrived, as it does once a week. Jordan spied a front page article that I thought was going to send Taylor into shock. Literally. I think she may have stopped breathing, but on second thought, you'd require quite a bit of oxygen to scream as loud as she did!

At our local community college there would be a guest speaker, Marion Blumenthal Lazan. Mrs. Lazan is a survivor of the Holocaust and would be sharing her story of hope and survival. It was a no brainer, we had to go. 

Anne Frank
 A couple of years back I read "The Diary of Anne Frank" to the girls in school. It was one of my favorite books growing up, and those are the ones I usually like to share with them. While they have their mid morning snack break, I'll read our current selection, and we were all captivated by Anne's story. When I was younger I think I managed to block out what became of Anne. It was probably too hard to accept that this vivacious, spunky girl died such a slow and unbelievable death. Reading it to the girls gave me a much different perspective, and some of her words gave us chills. She had premonitions of what was to come. I wasn't seeing her from the eyes of a fellow 13 year old girl any longer, and it allowed me to appreciate her fully and more completely, without the fear of what came next.

After reading Anne, it sparked something in me. I began to watch documentary after documentary on Netflix. I had not been aware that actual footage existed of these death camps. I should have known that the Nazis would want the proof of their mad, hateful experiement. Seeing human beings that resembled walking skeletons was shocking. How can a body withstand that neglect and continue to survive? How? Why?

So, as much as Tay wanted to see Marion speak, so did I. Desperately. We arrived half an hour early, took seats in the second row and patiently waited.

Marion took the microphone and began to speak. I wasn't sure what to expect, I just listened with open heart and mind. She told her story in detail, but made sure to convey to us that no words could actually describe what she had lived through. How could I possibly imagine what it would feel like to be crawling/infested with lice? To share a bunk with my mother in the dead of German winter with only one thin cotton blanket and no heat? To stand for hours outside everyday, no matter what the weather, while the Germans went about their business of counting heads? To ward off frostbite from said head-counts, by urinating on your extremities? To walk over and around the dead/dying daily or hourly? To survive on a cup of 'soup' a day? To wonder if this monthly trip to the showers would mean death? To have your stomach shrink so small that you no longer felt the hunger as deeply? To wonder why this was happening to you, your family, your friends, your world?

That list of inhumanities could go on and on. The reality is, I can only imagine, but I can never know the horrors of a Nazi death camp. Not in this lifetime. Thank God.

Marion grew up in concentration camps. She was liberated at the age of 10 1/2 , after spending 6 years under the everwatchful eyes of the Nazis. She knew nothing of living a 'normal' life. She had no concept of manners or even money. Her reality had been a nightmare of existence. Her joy found in finding 4 perfect pebbles each day that represented to her the fact that her mother, father, brother and herself would survive. Would escape this life gone horribly wrong.

Miraculously, they did survive. Marion credits her mother (still among us at the wonderful age of 103!) with her survival. Marion was actually in the same concentration camp as Anne Frank, and their stays overlapped for a month or so. Imagine, they may have seen each other in that vast camp of death.

Marion and her family were put on the last train leaving Bergen Belsen. The Russians and the Allies were approaching, the war was almost over. They spent two weeks in those cattle cars. Two weeks without food or water or bathroom facilities. Everyday the dead would be rolled out, and if the doors were opened the prisoners would scavenge for roots, anything to keep alive. Allies were bombing the train, unaware of the precious cargo inside.When that train was finally liberated Marion weighed 35 pounds. 35 pounds. How does a body survive that?

Marion and Nathaniel Lazan
  But this isn't a story about death, cruelty, torture, hate or power. Hers was a story of love, hope, faith and courage. Here this woman stood before me speaking these words. I coulnd't wrap my mind around the fact that she had BEEN there. She had lived in these camps that we've all heard tell about. She had seen the things we will only read about. She had heard the things we can only imagine. She had felt the things of our nightmares.

And yet... she had survived. She was engaging, humorous, endearing, hopeful, loving and mesmerizing. Life goes on. The years passed. After three long years they obtained the necessary papers and moved to America. She got married, had a family and began to spread her truth. She is an amazing example of strength and faith. I feel honored to have met her, spoken to her. I bought a book for each of the girls, and one for myself, and she signed each with care. Her darling husband snapped of photo of the four of us, I will do my best to hunt it down! I would cherish it, as I shall cherish that book for always.

Four Perfect Pebbles ~ to buy on Amazon, click here
I came home from her speech and read the book from cover to cover!
  Soon, there will be no one left alive to tell the story. Books like "Four Perfect Pebbles" will be all that's left of the people who survived this unspeakable part of human history. Survivors like Marion want to ensure that their stories are never forgotten. It is through such valuable lessons we can truly learn what we are not, and discover what we are. We can resolve never to let this happen again. We can infuse the world with love, tolerance, kindness, compassion, truth, acceptance and peace.  We can believe. We can hope. We can love.

Thank you Marion.

Peace ~ Melinda