He recalls 75th anniversary of Holocaust train ride

By Garry Fabian

Garry Fabian

MELBOURNE, Australia — While well over seven decades have passed, many of ones life the experiences are deeply embedded in our mind and specific dates have a significant impact despite the passage of time.

While the aim in life should be take each day as it comes, and generally always be forward looking, occasionally a significant date that brings back a past even into sharp focus when it happens falls on a significant date on the calendar and cast a glaring spotlight on the connections of one’s past, and the impact they leave on one’s life.

Coming up next week, on the 20th November 2017, is one such landmark that will come sharply into focus for me.

Seventy five years ago, on the 20th November 1942, I, together with my parents and 997 others took a train journey, which lasted just under two hours. Perhaps in the normal course of events there is nothing special about such a trip.

But this particular train trip travelled from Prague to the Theresienstadt Ghetto, with the return trip not taking place until June 1945.

It was a bleak, grey day of early winter, with little knowledge what would await us at the destination of this relatively short journey.  While it was just another stage of our journey through an uncertain future, which had commenced some four years earlier, in September 1938, when German troops marched into the Sudetenland, \

While we were unclear what would confront us there, it was to be just another phase of the events that were to develop over the next few years.  While my parents and I were fortunate by some strange twist of fate to survive there until liberation on the 5th May 1945, very few of the other 997 passengers on the train on that fateful day in November 1942 survived the deprivation and subsequent removal and murder in extermination camps of Eastern Europe.

So indeed for me, the 20th November 2017, marking the 75st Anniversary of the trip will have a special significance, a stark reminder of two very significant landmarks. One the arrival in a place of deprivation and despair, but more importantly the miracle of my survival and being granted an additional 75+ years of survival and life, a gift that the very large majority of my fellow travellers on that fateful journey were not given.

It indeed proves that fate or providence, which ever one impacts on one’s journey through life plays a major part in our personal destinies. Was it random chance, or is there a definite purpose in how our destiny is determined by a higher force?

Fabian is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. He may be contacted via [email protected]

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