Ernie Hollander and his family arrived at Auschwitz in 1944. He was seventeen years old and on his coat he wore a large yellow Star of David. His mother had sewn it there for him. Ernie and his family had traveled three days by train without food in a crowded cattle car from Iloshvo, a town in the Carpathian Mountains in what was then Hungary.
I sit across from my grandmother at the Seder table. "Grandma," I say, "I'm wondering what it's like for you, as a Holocaust survivor, who fled Germany as a child, to read these words, 'in every generation an enemy rises'?" She raises her eyebrows and sighs, as if she doesn't have what to say. My grandma has plenty to say.
In my writing career I have often written Holocaust survivor stories for newspapers and magazines, and I believe in the importance of sharing as many eyewitness accounts as possible. No two stories are the same, and it always amazes me how people clung to their will to live despite atrocities that the world had never seen before.
In many ways I can remember every detail of the liberation that happened 70 years ago. Nobody prepared us for what liberation would be like. I hoped then I could go home and find my family. We had a daily saying, like a mantra, "Someday soon I will be free and I will go home." But going home to me meant reuniting with my mother, father, and two older sisters, not just an empty house with four walls, which is what we found.