THE MEMORIES I LIVE WITH
|The Story of EUGENE JOSEPH|
Before me are blank sheets of paper, and I struggle to undertake a task that my children have wanted me to do for many years. I feel the need to put down what I have experienced. I want to explain who I am, what I saw; especially the horrors of the Holocaust. I see every aspect of my life clearly in my thoughts, and yet I donít know where to begin to record them. It seems so easy but the challenge appears as an impenetrable obstacle. The route, I know, will not be easy. There will be a good deal of pain. Hidden pitfalls that could open memories better left buried, and yet there is this urge to record events as I remember them.
Why do I want to do this?
They call me a Holocaust survivor. I have been told that survivors suffer from guilt. What guilt? What was it I did that I should be guilty of? Surviving? I survived a horrible period in Jewish history and I have been left with memories that haunt me and deeds that may not be understood. I have built walls around many of my thoughts, but cracks are appearing as I grow old, and I find myself with questions that appear to have no answers.
Why did I survive?
Was there a purpose?
Was my life meant for something that has yet to happen?
Maybe there are no answers. Maybe what happened just happened. Could it be as simple as that? I was a child when the war came to Hungary. What does a child know of war? Some claim they survived because they were lucky. My luck was my father. He saved my life. Not once but several times, and yet I feel nothing for him. Nothing.
I have a story. Is my story different from others? I donít know. I believe my story begins at the end. Even that is strange. I travelled to Israel, a land of hope and dreams, in 1972 for the first time. Many survivors have come here to see if what they had experienced was for this, a place for Jews. I came to see my sister and to visit the grave of my father. The twelve-hour flight was an eternity of memories, a time to reflect, to organize my thoughts, to try to purge my heart. What are memories but the invisible baggage of life? Mine contained a sequence of events in which my father played a main role. I had not seen my father since 1947. Without telling him goodbye, I left him. I ran. I fled. I fled from the memories that fled with me. And now twenty-five years later I was making the long trip to where he was buried. For what reason? To look at a mound of earth? Definitely not to ask his forgiveness.
I have a story, and I would like to tell it.