Most of us are familiar with Steven Spielberg's Holocaust Survivors Project.
Our guest speaker Dan Goldsmith was videoed by one of Spielberg's associates. She said he MUST go out and speak in person at schools - and of course other venues - to show that he's a real person, which is more convincing than a film. Here's his hour-long video here.
His talk was riveting.
A young woman sat in the front row. He said to her When you get older, marry and have children, all of us survivors will have passed away.
BASHERT, he said, was the reason he survived.
He had many close encounters with death yet lived to tell the tale of his mother, who lived to be 88, and his younger sister Lillian, who lives in Warminster, PA!!!
I was shocked to learn he lives in nearby Hatboro, home of Daddypops Diner, and the Hatboro Post Office.
His mother saved a lot of memorabilia and gave it to a neighbor for when the war ended.
She and others were part of the Resistance, a dangerous existence. After the war, her mom refused to talk about what happened, so her son Dan got her to talk about it in bits and pieces.
Everyone in the family survived except his father, whom he loved very much.
In the middle of the night, the Nazis arrived and pulled people from their homes.
Everyone was screaming down below on the street.
The Nazis wanted young and strong men and picked the dad to go to a labor camp. He was 39.
I'll see you soon, said Dad. I'm strong and know I'll survive.
He was later gassed in Auschwitz's Birkenau.
The Goldsmiths lived on the top floor. They'd been tipped off, so they escaped thru a back door so they wouldn't be seen and climbed a ladder to the roof. They hid under a cornice.
Bashert, said Dan, is b/c Lillian the baby was asleep the whole time.
One peep from her and they would have been shot dead. In fact a Nazi did climb up on the roof and shone his flash light across the roof, but missed them.
Lillian spent most of the war years with a Catholic family who loved her very much. She became a part of their family.
The family refused to give her up at the end of the war.
Uncle Murray, who was an American citizen, straightened out the situation and brought her back to the family. To this day, the 'righteous gentiles' refused to keep in touch.
He was given false Baptismal papers and raised Catholic.
The Jews were gradually stripped of their rights and their humanity.
Hitler had planned it in advance.
They had a curfew and couldn't be on the streets from 7 PM to 7 AM.
They could not go to PUBLIC PLACES, whether parks, museums, concerts.
"It was one and a half years of stripping us of our rights and demoralizing us."
At the time they didn't know about concentration camps.
The Jews could only live in four cities in Belgium, the four largest.
An Indian family lived there.... this is Antwerp. He asked to see his old apartment. The Nazis had trashed it when they couldn't find the occupants. Mom had the sense to grab Dad's tools to use as bagaining chips, and blankets to keep them warm.
The family refused to let them in.
Holocaust Museum in DC.
This time, living as a Catholic, the Nazis got all the Jews. Pull down your trousers, they ordered.
The Jews were the only ones circumcised.
They ended up on a cattle car, replica below.
Joseph, 16, took on a leadership role.
Then, in the dark, they had to find one another. The injuries were not too severe, some bloodied cuts and ankle sprains.
They ran into the dark woods while Joseph said he'd find help. He heard speaking in French inside the house so he figured they were safe, which they were.
Dan last heard from Joseph in 1950 and was doing fine.
Ee-ow! Take me to the dentist.
Thunderous applause greeted Dan Goldsmith.
I walked into the dark night, slipped on my driving glasses, and drove home.
Genocides are happening all over the globe. And from where I sit on my red couch, the desctruction of the native Americans - Lenapes - 400 years ago - made it possible for me to live here.
DANIEL asked us one thing. When you see an injustice, speak up. Don't allow it to happen.
Life is too short.