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March 21, 2003 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-03-21

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OTHER, VIEWS

Purim In Dachau

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SATURDAY, MARCH 22ND

lomir shpilen a Purim shpir
the Rabbi." We never found
"Fellow Jews, what is the
out whether he was actually a
matter
with you?! Today is
rabbi, but he always washed his
Purim,
let us play a Purim
brachah
hands and made a
Shpiel!"
(blessing) before eating. From
Then it dawned on us that
time to time when the
back home, a million years
Germans were not looking, he
ago, this was the time of the
would invite us to participate
SO
LLY
year
when we children were
in the evening prayers.
GAN
OR
dressing
up for Purim, playing
Our Jewish camp command-
Spe
cial
and
eating
hamantashen. It
er, Burgin, heard about him
Comm entary took the "Rabbi" to remember
and tried to get him easier
the exact date by the Jewish
jobs. Most people died when
they had to carry a hundred pounds of calendar when Purim Was.
He then divided the roles of Ester
cement sacks on their backs or other
Hamalka
(the queen), Mordechai,
chores of heavy labor.
Vashti
and
Haman among the onlook-
Around the middle of March, we
ers. I was honored to receive the role
were given a day off. It was a Sunday.
of Mordechai, and we all ended up
The camp was covered with snow,
dancing in the snow. And so we had
but here and there the first signs of
our Purim Shpiel in Dachau.
spring were in the air. We heard vague
But that was not the end of the story.
rumors of the American break through
The
"Rabbi" promised us that we will get
into Germany and a glimmer of hope
today
our shalach manot and we thought
was kindled in our hearts.
that it was hardly likely to happen.
After breakfast, consisting of a slice
But, miracle of miracles, the same
of moldy bread, a tiny piece of mar-
afternoon, a delegation of the
garine and brown water known as
ersatz coffee," we returned to our bar- International Red Cross came to the
camp. We welcomed them with open
rack to get some extra sleep.
arms because they brought us the sha-
Suddenly, we noticed Chaim the
Rabbi standing in the snow and shout- lach manot the "Rabbi" promised.
Each one of us received a parcel, con-
ing, "Haman to the gallows! Haman
taining a tin of sweetened condensed
to the gallows!"
milk, a small bar of chocolate, a box of
On his head he had a paper crown
sugar cubes and a pack of cigarettes.
made of a cement sack, and he was
Here we were starving to death
draped in a blanket that had cut out
when
suddenly, on Purim, we received
stars from the same paper attached to it.
these
heavenly
gifts. Since then, we
We stood like petrified before this
never doubted the "Rabbi" anymore.
strange apparition, barely able to trust
His prediction also came true. Two
our eyes, while he performed a dance in
the snow, singing: "I am Achashwerosch, months later, Haman-Hitler went to
the gallows and shot himself in Berlin,
Achashwerosh, the king of the Persians."
while
we, those of us who were still
Then he stood still straightened him-
alive,
were rescued by the American
self out, chin pointed to the sky, his
army
on
May 2, 1945.
right arm extended in an imperial ges-
I lost track of the "Rabbi" on our
ture. and shouted: "Haman to the gal-
death march from Dachau to Tyrol,
Solly Ganor worked as a slave laborer in
lows! Haman to the gallows! Arid when
the Outer Camp of Dachau No. 10. Royal I say Haman to the gallows, we all know but I hope that he survived and had
many children as he always wanted.
Oak resident Caroline Broida Trapp stag which Haman we are talking about!"
I always remember him when Purim
now, there were about 50 of us stand-
about him was published in the book
comes
around, for the unforgettable
ing g'a'ping at the "Rabbi," when he said:
"Chicken Soup for America." Ganor e-
Purim
Shpiel
in Dachau.
"Yiidden
wos
iz
mit
ajch!
Haint
is
Purim,
mail address is solganor@netvision.net.il

Herzelia Pituach, Israel
arch, 1945. They arrived
from Auschwitz in several
groups. Each group
counted about 20 people.
Of course, they didn't look like peo-
ple. They looked more like walking
skeletons. They had triangular faces
with pointed chins, and sunken
cheeks. Even the lips had shrunken to
thin blue lines. The only prominent
features were their eyes; they were
unusually large and with a strange
sheen, almost luminous.
They were known in concentration
camp slang, as "Musselman." That was
usually the last stage before death. They
spoke Yiddish with an accent, which to
us Lithuanian Jews sounded strange.
They told us that they came from the
ghetto of Lodz through Auschwitz,
before they were sent to our camp. Our
camp was known as the Outer Camp of
Dachau No. 10; it was situated in the
middle of a small forest near the pictur-
esque town of Utting, by Lake Amersee.
I remember the day when we were
brought there, I thought to myself,
"How can anything bad happen to us
among all this beauty?" I soon found
out that the beauty was in the land-
scape only. The Germans in charge of
us were sadists and murderers.
The Lodz people fell into the same
deceptive trap. They thought that after
Auschwitz, our camp looked like para-
dise. Most of them died soon after their
arrival, from hard labor, beatings and
starvation; still they preferred to die here
than in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
Some of them told us that they were
standing naked before the gas chambers
when they were suddenly ordered to get
dressed and were sent to our camp.
One of them was known as "Chaim

"

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3/21

2003

40

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BESSER

from page 39

the mainstream churches represent a
clear majority in this country.
And it's a problem because the Jewish
community still has much in common
with these groups; aside from Israel,
including shared values on issues such
as civil and women's rights, church-
state separation and social welfare.
That's a sharp contrast to the religious
right, a bitter adversary to most Jewish
groups on those close-to-home issues.
And, truth be told, most American
Jews are much more moderate in their

Mideast positions than the
Evangelicals, many of whom support
settlements, oppose all land-for-peace
negotiations and believe endless
Mideast violence is a necessary precur-
sor to the return of their Messiah.
Mainstream Episcopalians may be
foolishly ready to confer sainthood on
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but at
least they aren't cheerleaders for the
"end-time" battles that the
Evangelicals believe will destroy all but
a remnant of the Jewish people.
In fact, Jews are conceding the inter-
group playing field to the Israel haters

when it comes to the mainstream
Protestants and Catholics.
So one shouldn't be surprised when
a Jim Moran makes an outrageously
anti-Semitic statement in a main-
stream church— and is met only with
silence from parishioners who may
share Moran's sentiments, or simply
may not have heard the truth from
their Jewish neighbors.
With more Morans crawling out of
the woodwork in these feverish times,
we need more outreach with both
groups of Christians, even when that
outreach is difficult and frustrating. ❑

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