This may sound strange but is often easier to look at graphic images of the Holocaust, because throughout the years I have seen so many that nothing actually shocks me anymore.
But seeing the last words of the victims has such a profound effect. With images you close your eyes or look away and although there is a memory of that picture, the impact gets lesser when you look away.
However the words are forever etched in your soul, they are the cries from eternity.
“Blanche, if it’s a boy, name him Jacob Ben Meier. If it’s a girl, name her Rachel.”
Meier Vieijra was born on 26 December 1918 in Amsterdam.
In 1939, Meier married Blanche Nabarro
Meier’s parents lived in central Amsterdam, near the Portuguese Synagogue on the Jonas Daniel Meijerplein, the square that became the scene of the first large round-up of Jews in Amsterdam, on 22-23 February 1941. On 22 February, Meier was on his way to visit his mother when he was brutally arrested on the stairs of her apartment building. Together with some 400 young Dutch Jewish men, he was taken to the Jonas Daniel Meijer Square and then deported, initially to Buchenwald and from there to Mauthausen. Most of the deportees were murdered within a few months.
On 31 August, Blanche received what turned out to be the last letter from her husband, in which he said: Blanche, if it’s a boy, name him Jacob Ben Meier. If it’s a girl, name her Rachel.
Blanche gave birth to a baby daughter on 2 October 1941 and called her Rachel.
A letter written by Blanche to Meier in Mauthausen on 14 October 1941 was returned to sender. Meier was murdered on 17 September 1941.
Thank you for your letters and money orders. Today I have the opportunity to write to you. Blanche, please thank Aunt Aggelen for the money order. You ask in your letter if you can send me 15 RM weekly. It is probably allowed. Blanche, if it will be a boy, name him Jacob Ben Meier. If it is a girl, name her Rachel.”
“Dear Mummy and Daddy… I also kiss and hug both of you very tight
Edik, who had just started learning to write, wrote these words to his parents, Klara and Lazer. That was the last they heard from their seven-year-old son.
“Dear Mummy and Daddy,
Today it has been raining all day.
I am playing with Vitya and Grisha.
I kiss and hug both of you very tight,
Letter sent to Edik’s dad Lazer Tonkonogi on 22 April 1944, in which he is informed that his family members have been murdered.
Tashkent, Maxim Gorky St. […]6
For Mr. Tonkonogi c/o Czelirovksi
Dear Mr. Tonkonogi,
We received your letters, and we have the answers to your questions. Only six people remain out of the residents of Satanov. The rest of the Jewish population, amongst them your family members, were murdered by the fascist barbarians. Boris Kuperstein, Walodia Liptzan, Leida Ichilov and Motya Eizkov survived. You don’t know the other survivors.
22 April 1944
Tashkent, Maxim Gorky St. […]6
For Mr. Tonkonogi c/o Czelirovks
“Do you still remember the songs? I also sing them.”
Leah Jurgrau wrote these words to her 8-year-old daughter Ruth in her last letter from Westerbork. Ruth was in hiding in Groningen, in the north of the Netherlands.
When the war broke out, the Jurgraus tried unsuccessfully to flee the Netherlands. In the summer of 1942, Dov found a hiding place in an apartment in Groningen, where he was joined by his daughter, Ruth. Meanwhile, Leah hid in the home of Dutch friends, the Buursma family, in Amsterdam. Tragically, Leah was caught and sent to the Westerbork transit camp, and deported from there to her death in Sobibor in 1943.
22 November 1942
The letter and the drawing were wonderful. Everyone loves the drawing. Did you draw it with your left or right hand?
I’m glad that you are in a good place with the two little ones. Are you sure that you are happy? I hope you are behaving like a big girl, and playing nicely with the children.
Lots of kisses to the three of you.
Do you still remember the songs? I also sing them.”
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