Though he does not think of himself as a "writer" per se, Gidon loves to write. As is true for most writers, he finds it a good way to sort out his thoughts. Though the book is complete, there are very many "extras" and "outtakes" from the book, if you will, and when the spirit moves him, Gidon writes down some of his current thoughts. The other day, Gidon had read an article about a BBC documentary about Holocaust deniers and he was deeply upset. So he wrote down how he feels, and I have typed that up here to share with you.
As I sit here in my fairly comfortable apartment in Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv in Israel, I am once more confronted by another article in the newspaper, dealing with the ludicrous phenomena, worldwide, of Holocaust Denial.
Having just four days ago celebrated my 85th birthday by "zip lining" over a lovely but deep ravine near the West Bank settlement of Kfar Etsion, a well of anger engulfs me every ounce of flesh, blood and being, that there are people who dispute and question that 80 some years ago, Hitler and his countless cohorts orchestrated one of the greatest, if not the greatest of human atrocities. I am aware that there have been countless other atrocities but none were as meticulously planned and carried out almost to the absolute fullest as the Germans and their many other collaborators from countries such as Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania and more were able to carry out.
I, as one of the few survivors still living, and enjoying life despite it all, find it incredible that there are humans (if they can be so called) who say that the Holocaust never happened. I wish it hadn't, and I would have grown up in my middle class family in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), with my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and even great-grandparents like most normal people in the world do.
Instead, at the age of 3, I remember getting on a train late at night to go to Praha (Prague) to escape the Nazis, and 3 years later saying goodbye to my father and grandfather as they were transported to Terezin, and my mother and me getting on another transport to the same destination. Somehow, I survived, but without ever seeing my beloved grandfather or many other relatives again. I really do wish there had never been a Holocaust, that I had not been hungry all the time, I would have gone to school, had a normal childhood and a family to grow up in. As it was - 4 years in Terezin were for me, for the most part, hell on earth. I didn't know there was a different life possible. My grandpa died in the camp for lack of nutrition and medication. My dad was transported to Auschwitz and then Buchenwald and that's the last we know of him. All of my other relatives perished in one of the countless camps or on the way to them.
I remember my great-grandmother Rosa, when she arrived at Terezin was dressed in her finest clothing and she said "What can they do to me, I am an old woman!" Little did she know that she would be sent to Treblinka and that the gas chambers were waiting for her, but not before the utter humiliation of having to disrobe and being shorn of her grey hair.
So, deniers, you can deny from now to doomsday - I am not making these memories up, I could never imagine these horrible things. I can show you endless photographs. I did not have a family that I got to know and enjoy because of the Holocaust. I would never wish the same on you.
-Gidon Lev, March 7, 2020.