This session I sat down with Julius since I felt that I had heard the majority of Marie’s story during the last session. The moment I sit down Julius tells me that he never forgets anything, he never writes anything down, and he has a perfect memory. He is also 97 years old. While I review my notes, already embarrassed that I had to write them down even though I am almost seventy years Julius’ junior, I recall how he seemed to recount the general history of the war. He had lived through the two world wars and remembers French planes overhead in 1918 during Yom Kippur. He left Germany at age fourteen, tired of experiencing anti-Semitism, and left Germany by 1934. Upon Hitler’s growing power, Julius did not wait to see what could happen so he left for the United States and soon married his wife of 66.5 years.

            Julius is clearly a brilliant man but what impressed me most was the certain softness his voice developed when he talked about his wife. She had passed away several years before but the way he would tell his story about her demonstrated to me that he maintained such a profound human sensitivity despite the horror of the world he witnessed. Of course I am always curious about a survivor’s beliefs concerning religion, Judaism, God, and how the Holocaust changed or affected them so I began to ask questions regarding how he viewed the world. He paused for a moment, expecting to continue a talk about the facts of history, and then stated that he still believed in God. He believed that God existed but that humanity is responsible for its own actions and God does not literally cause catastrophes.  I then asked what he believed what was the greatest problem of our day. He responded saying that corruption needs to be checked and greed requires regulation. Masses of people are suffering on a global scale due to the vices and dishonesty of a few.

            We finished our discussion with a powerful, moving, and haunting poem that Julius had written about the concentration camps. He said it was now on display at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC but more personally significant was to see how he was affected by his own words. By the tears that began to well in his eyes, he personally felt so connected to the experience and was there to tell his story, the stories of his family members that were all lost, and to give me the opportunity to remind myself of the enduring power of the human spirit.

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