Thoughts of a Survivor on 70th anniversary of liberation

By Garry Fabian

Garry Fabian

Garry Fabian

MELBOURNE, Australia — Some dates on the calendar have greater significance than others, particularly if they mark a special event, or more importantly are associated with an event that denotes a major landmark in one’s life.

5th May 2015 is indeed such a day in my own life and the life of many others.  On this day 70 years ago, 5th May 1945, three Soviet tanks rolled through the gates of the Theresienstadt Ghetto located in the Czech Republic.  This day marked the Ghetto’s liberation after almost four years since its establishment in 1941, and a new world and indeed new life dawned for some 15.000 inmates, still left in the Ghetto.

From 1941 until May 1945, some 140,000 had passed through its gates, most of who had been deported and killed in the extermination camps of Auschwitz, Sobibor, Treblinka and other places that were the killing fields of the Holocaust.

For all the survivors in Theresienstadt on that May morning,  marked day one of a new life, and indeed it could be described as a rebirth to the start of the future . For many the realisation that the nightmare was finally ended, also brought new challenges, to resume a civilised life, rising from the ashes of the dark 12 years, but also to come to terms that for many their whole family had been murdered, the places of their ancestors and their own origins no longer were a viable place to return to, and the prospect of forging a new life in distant lands, to adapt to strange languages, cultures, brought on many feelings of estrangement, once the elation of being liberated faded.

But no matter what lay ahead, and the changes, adjustments and the challenges of building a new life, to embrace new realities had become a reality, which some responded to positively and productively,  while others never quite escaped the horrors of their experiences, and lived with many dark shadows and terrible memories.  But that particular May morning will always be a vivid memory for the rest of their lives.

While our birth certificates may bear a different date, for those of us present on that morning, 5th May 1945,  will always remain our birthday when we entered a new life.

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Fabian is an author and freelance writer based in Melbourne.  You may comment to him at [email protected] or post your comment on this website provided that the rules below are observed.

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One Response to “Thoughts of a Survivor on 70th anniversary of liberation”

  1. Theresienstadt was more than a ghetto, or concentration camp. It was an elaborate hoax to show the world that it really treated its Jewish population well by having the Red Cross tour in June 1944. As soon as the tour was over, the camp resorted to its banal roots where barbed wire again surrounded the park and the smiling faces of guards disappeared. Stephen Stein, author “The Oath,” Batesville, Indiana

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