I heard a story yesterday which touched me at a very deep level, so I wanted to write it down before I forgot it.
The story came up in an interview with a very knowledgeable woman who is now the world's leading expert in her chosen field. At one point in the interview, she began describing her background. It turns out she was the daughter of Jewish immigrants to Belgium from Poland. Each of her parents was the only member of their family to survive the holocaust. Her two parents originally met while in the death camps.Out of roughly 200 family members from before, only her parents made it out alive.
The father had been something of an underground resister at the camps. He had somehow found a way to access and stockpile small amounts of food. He gave away this food to the most needy people because being too weak to work meant certain death. So through these activities, her father saved many people's lives.
To me, the most fascinating part was that he also gave food to some of his nazi captors. Imagine that! He's living in some of the worst conditions that have ever existed for anyone. Yet he chose to follow the golden rule and to treat everyone, even a war criminal, the way he would want to be treated. My original reaction to this part of the story was dismay. I could not imagine in any way being nice to any of the guards if I had been in that sort of situation.
One day, her father was ordered to the factories. This meant "you have one week to live." So her father had received a death sentence and had no ability to save himself.
Then, a miracle happened. One of the nazi guards reassigned him back into the kitchen, instead of the factory! Why? "Because I eat better when he's working in the kitchen," remarked the nazi. It turns out he had been one of the nazis receiving extra food from the father. As a direct result of this intervention, her father survived and the lady telling the story ended up being born and existing at all. Wow. The man literally had a death sentence which was rescinded.
I'm still processing what this story means to me, which is why I'm writing it down. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the father shared with the nazi, which was a pretty radical action on his part at the time. It was an action that many of us wouldn't have taken in that situation. This single decision directly saved his life. Maybe this story also highlights that even small kindnesses can sometimes have an enormous ripple effects later on.
This is a story about what happened during the holocaust. It is one of many holocaust survivor stories, but we think it is a very poignant one. The story originally comes from one of the children of the holocaust, since she was born from two survivors. Of course, this is one of many holocaust stories, but we think that it provides a real opportunity to explore inspirational tales that happened in the holocaust concentration camps. I heard this story for the first time on the Timothy Ferris Podcast.See more stories here