November 16, 2015 at 12:17 pm #8147REFiendModerator
Channa Meiri’s speech on behalf of the survivor’s on Yom HaShoah [Holocaust Memorial Day], 15/4/2015, Yad Vashem
Every child knows when she or he were born, who are their mother and father. What is their family name. This right was taken away from me. This is my life story in a nut shell. A childhood with a lost identity.
Throughout the years I managed to gather some information and my life story looks like a puzzle with missing pieces.
I was born in Lwow in 1941 and my name was probably Anna Finkelstien. A short while after the Nazi occupation, my parents smuggled me outside the ghetto. They handed me over to a non-Jewish family that hid me during the war.
I was a baby and therefore can’t remember my Jewish parents. I have very few memories from my non-Jewish family, the only one I actually had in my childhood. The only experience of a mother’s love and care.
At the end of the war a Jewish couple arrived to the family I was staying with. They were presented to me as my real parents. I was taken at once from my familiar and loved surroundings to the unknown. I was ripped away from the woman who had raised me and took very good care of me, who loved me and for me was my real mother. I will never forget that day. Only later did I find out that the Jewish couple were not actually my real parents.
After a few years in Brussels my adoptive parents split and I went to live with the woman in Israel. She deserted me in an immigrant’s camp and later I was send to live in a Kibbutz. I lived there feeling an outcast, without a clear identity until a woman named Sarah adopted me and became my loving mother – the third one.
Sarah took upon herself to find out more about my past. When I was 16 I learned that my birthday was on April 10th, 1941 and that my parent’s names were Brunia Finkelstien, nee’ Katz and Avraham Zvi Finkelstien, born in Lwow. They were murdered in the Lwow Ghetto. That’s all we had.
After high school I left the Kibbutz to study and become a nurse in Jerusalem. I got married to David and we had three children: Gila’ad, Yiftach and Tal.
I did not speak about my past for many years because I didn’t think there was actually anything to tell. I didn’t really try to look for any surviving relatives. I accepted the fact that I will never know who were my parents and how did they have the courage to hand over their baby to another family. I accepted the fact that I will never know who were the woman and the man who hid me and thanks to them I am alive.
There are many others who are like me. Children survivors who owe their lives to anonymous non Jewish rescuers who are granted an eternal gratitude.
I had the right to return to the Jewish people because someone came for me after the war. But there are children that no one came for them after the war. We shall never know what happened to them.
My story is of a longing to belong. It’s also a story of optimism, heroism and survival. Fortunately I am here with my family – children and grandchildren, the future generations.
I am here with other Holocaust Survivors. We have rebuilt our lives and established families. We were part of the struggle to establish Israel and helped its development. We have built a career and a rich, full life. We became part of Israeli society.
Two unknown women gave me my life: my mother, who was Jewish and my rescuer, who was not Jewish. My family and I are the outcome of this incredible deed which was full of love, sacrifice and grace. I feel blessed standing here today, in this ceremony, in this city, in the State of Israel.