Personal Reflections


I am that mother, who strokes her child, who reassures him, wipes his tears, deadens his anguish and his terror before disappearing with him in the black abyss of the hellish chimney. I am that mother, who in the attic, our refuge, rocks her child to sleep, erases his nightmares and shudders for him at each noise from the night.

The Gestapo is knocking at our door! I am that mother who, in her cattle car going to the beyond, writes with care to her son, in a language she does not know well: he is hidden with friends. "Eat well. Don't catch a cold. Have fun. Be good and think of Mommy and Daddy."

I am that mother, who dies slowly every day, every hour, and whose battered, gaunt tortured body is thrown in cinders toward an indifferent sky, but come to life again in my child who lives.

I am all the mothers, who will never know the sweetness of getting old, of seeing with pride their child grow, of admiring his natural talent, his qualities, of crying at his wedding and leaning over a cradle as they become grandmothers.

I am not forgetting those wonderful women, who at risk of their lives, hid, protected and raised other people's children.

I think of the nuns, who welcomed in their convents - as if they were sacred depositories - Jewish children, small and mournful groups. We called them my sister and our mother; they were just that by their sweet kindness and the love they were showing us. I am not forgetting the woman, who in the midst of her own, cherished the child hit by misfortune. Worried when we were ill, erasing our worries and pains with a motherly word or gesture.

We were privileged children, always the youngest who had to be coddled more, loved better, because we were orphans.

Already 50 years........

This editorial is a tribute to the agony of women who, forced by barbaric forces, brought, themselves, their child to the executioner.

To the heroism of other women who entrusted often unknown hands with the fate of their young.

In the name of my mother, in the name of all missing mothers, I thank with love, with gratitude, all the women who protected, raised and loved innocent children.

(Special to the The Jewish Bulletin of Vancouver, by Alex Buckman.)

This tribute was written, in French, by my cousin, Jean Zeydmann, born in 1930 in Belgium. Jean and I never knew either of our grandparents: now we are each proud grandfathers of two little boys. Jean's mother - my mother's sister - and my own mother died together in Birkenau in 1943. At that time Jean was thirteen and I was four years old. In 1945 Jean and I went to live in Belgium. He, to live with our mothers' sister and I to live with my father's sister. - Alex Buckman -

Alex Buckman is a member of the Child Survivor Group of Vancouver. This article, by Jean Zeydmann was translated by David Reed.

This article was published with the verbal permission of Alex Buckman.


© Copyright Judy Cohen, 2001.
All rights reserved.