This piece is probably my most personal piece to date..It is not based on historical facts although the Holocaust victim was a real victim. It is based on my own personal life as a young child, combined with a thought I had about that time.
I came across some pictures of me as a child with St Nicholas(the Dutch Santa).
At the time time I did not realize that the man dressed as St Nicholas was actually my Father.
When I was 9 my parents divorced which lead to me losing contact with my Father for 18 years. It was only after I got married we reconnected again, due to a few tragedies in the Family. But I don’t want to bore you with those stories, suffice to say we did establish a good relationship from that time onward.
However I do remember writing a letter to Santa when I was 9. All I asked then was for my Father to return. The irony was that the man I asked for my Dad to return was actually my Father.
But here is the thought I had over the last few weeks. How many children must have written letters to Santa asking for nothing but for the friends or classmates to return. Classmates,friends or neighbours who had been deported and murdered in the death camps.
Although the St Nicholas celebration is a Christian tradition, some Jewish children did and still do participate in it.
I still remember what I wrote to Santa when I was aged 9 so I thought I’d use that letter as template but replace the references of my Father with the name Joseph Elias Cohen, the boy whose picture is at the top of this blog, he was born on 8 February 1934 in Amsterdam and killed on 4 June 1943, in Sobibor.
“Dear Santa my Friend Joseph Elias Cohen is gone. I don’t know where. All I know that he just vanished without saying goodbye to me.
I am not angry, all I want to know is if he is alright. I miss him.
So Santa this year for Christmas I don’t want any gifts or treats. All I want is when I wake up on Christmas day and walk down to the living room that my Friend is standing next to the Christmas tree, with his arms open wide , ready to give me a hug.
So if you have already wrapped my presents, that is okay , you can give those presenst to other children, all I want is my Friend to come home.
Do you think you can do that?”
As I said except for my own life story and the details of Joseph Elias Cohen, this blog has no historical facts, but I do believe it does make it personal and brings a bit of life into a story of an innocent 9 year old boy who was killed simply for being Jewish.