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RESISTANCE, RESILIENCE & HOPE: Podcast Extra – ERNA BLITZER GORMAN

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EG: My largest sorrow has always been that I never saw the farmer myself, you know, face to face, because if I would know the farmers, where they were exactly, where they lived, I could have done so much for them to help them maybe or thank them somehow, you know, whatever.

I know that my dad in ’47 tried to go back to the village to see the farmer, but he was threatened, and many of the Jews that fled their homes and they were saved — they saved themselves — when they returned to the villages, they were murdered. Some of my friends, after the war, his parents were murdered because they came back to the village. After the war.

High school graduates that were studying the Holocaust used to ask me to travel with them as the Holocaust grandma survivor. And when we came to certain areas in Poland, we usually had a bus or two full, you know. But when we came to certain places in Poland, we were surrounded by guards because they said you could not step out beyond a certain area; there’s danger for you. That’s horrible, to this day.

AM: And when was that?

EG: Well, the last time I was there was in ’17 — or ’18. That was the last time. So it’s still very, very prevalent.

AM: Yeah. That’s amazing.

I was thinking that 50 years ago it seems like you couldn’t have anticipated that there would be a time when so many people wanted to hear your story.

EG: Well, the stories — Elie Wiesel was the first one that started speaking and the children like my group never had a voice either, because the only ones that counted were the Auschwitz people, the survivors of Auschwitz. And they had the numbers tattooed on their arm. They are the only ones that were dominating — they never wanted to hear a child. They dismissed it automatically.

I started — well, three of us started a group in Michigan called The Hidden Children, and we did not allow any siblings or any spouses to come to be in that group because those children that joined the group had never spoken; they never opened up. And we wanted to give them complete freedom. They would never be dismissed. They used to be honored in our little group. We had 56 of them eventually.

AM: I did want to talk about the book and the experience of writing that book. Did that bring up a lot of pain for you, writing the book?

EG: It was hard. Very hard. But it needed to be done.

Don’t forget, I was very young and traumatized, extremely so.

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Photo credits: David Seide

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