After writing my diary "A Promise to My Grandfather" yesterday, I received over 40 emails from all over the country (I am still getting some right now) from those that were also impacted by the Holocaust. I read each one of them and shed a tear for every word. Many thanked me for sharing the story of my grandfather, but I should thank all of them for their stories. It helped me see that I am not alone in my pain, but also to see that there is hope. Hope that there are those that want to fight the hate that is now forming and stop it before we repeat it.
However, there was one email from BettyG in San Rafael, California that moved me that it is taking me way too long to write this diary.
Here is my follow up with BettyG's email.
Diaries :: amprather's diary ::
In the fall of 1943, after being captured by the Nazis in the Ukraine, my grandfather was sent to Auschwitz. At first, he was just one of many Soviet POWs held at the camp, but it was later discovered that he was Jewish, so he was removed from the Soviet soldiers and placed with the other European Jews. My grandfather never knew why he survived while others parished, but there was never a day that passed after liberation in 1945 that he thanked God for that gift of life.
My grandfather was able to get to England and then on to America to restart his life. He raised 5 children and later cherished his 22 grandchildren. He loved to work in his garden, even on the hottest of days. As a child, I always wondered why he wore long shirts even on those August days when it would easily be 100 degrees (even in the shade). When I was 9, I caught my grandfather shaving in the bathroom and that is when I saw it: His Camp Number - 58877241.
Not knowing any better, I asked him why he got such a "stupid tattoo". He told me that he really didn't want to get it and quickly tried to cover it with a towel. I followed him asking him, "Why don't you get it removed then?" He stop dead in the hallway and without turning around said "So I don't forget." We never discussed it again.
When he died last summer, I told myself that he was finally at peace. As I stood over his coffin with my wife, I reached down and took his arm in mine. I unbuttoned his sleeve and rolled it up. I looked at the number again - 58877241. My wife looked at me and asked "Why are you doing that?" All I could say was "So I don't forget." Right then I made my promise to him - Never again.
Now when I see the hate and bigotry that comes out of those that call them "Christians" or "Moral People", I know that this is how it began seven decades ago in Europe. It was too late, when people finally woke up, millions had been carted away in cattle cars to their deaths.
I don't want to see that here or anywhere else. I do not want there to be cattle cars filled with people that these hate mongers scream out against. I do not want to see gays, liberals, Mexicans, hippies, Hollywood Actors, or anyone else have to be tattooed with a number. No more 58877241s.
This summer, my family and I will be traveling to Auschwitz, so my children understand what there grandfather went through. I want my daughter to know why I see him in her eyes. And then everytime I look in her eyes I will see hope and love and not 58877241.
So to the Phelps and Coulters of the world, you are on notice, we will fight your hate because we will not have this happen again.
Here is BettyG's email-
After reading your email, I was moved to tears because it reminded me of my grandfather, Ivan Feduleyev. He was also a soldier in the Red Army, captured in the Ukraine. He was taken to Auschwitz as a POW. At first his unit was held in a special part of the camp, but things changed when the guards heard from one of the officers that there were Jewish soldiers in the unit.
All of the soldiers were beaten for a few days as the guards demanded they identify the Jews. None of them would identify the Jewish troops. Finally, the Captain of the Guard decided that the only way to make them talk was to execute one of the soldiers. They brought the unit into a yard and lined the soldiers up for selection. They choose my grandfather. They hauled him in front of a firing squad. The Captain of the Guard again demanded that the Jews among them be identified. Then one of the soldiers came forward and identified himself as a Jew. The Captain grabbed him and hauled him away and stopped the execution. The troops never saw the soldier again.
My grandfather never forgot that soldier's name, he named his first son after him, Roman. The soldier's name was Roman Edemskoi.
Roman Edemskoi (58877241) was my grandfather.
I am traveling to San Rafael next week to talk to BettyG. If you don't think the Web is a powerful, earth-shattering tool, I hope you think differently.
To all that wrote me via email or posted a comment on the original diary, again thank you.
Update [2005-3-5 1:41:11 by amprather]: I want to thank everyone that has read and was moved by this, since this went in to the Most Recommend Section, my email has blown up from many of you and some journalists. This is causing some concerns, though, with Betty and I. We are starting to think that this is no longer our time to talk next week. Trust me, we want to share our meeting with everyone, but first we want to be able to talk to each other face to face in peace. Also we want the two families to talk, we don't want media hounds destroying what could be a beautiful time. Because of that, we ask that you continue to support Betty and I, but do not suffocate us. Trust me, DailyKos will be the first to hear about the meeting and the eventual news stories. Again Thank You for all of the kind words, they have moved me and Betty. God Bless all of you and I look forward to writing next week. Adam (amprather) [UPDATE2]Well, what I feared would happen, happened. There would be skeptics that would rather attack me for this diary. That is why I didn't at first want to share it. Well I did and my email account blew up. So I took down my link on my profile. Oddly, I still got emails after that. Then there were questions about the open casket. My grandfather was not a practicing Jew when I knew him. So his service took place at a funeral home. I am not Jewish, all five of my grandfather's daughters did not practice Judaism, so all of us grandchildren were not raised Jewish. So there. As for BettyG, I said I got an email from her. Up until then I knew nothing about her. If she was a blogger on DailyKos or not. She just wrote me. I asked my cousin and a friend that are bloggers on DailyKos, what I should do. I wanted to just delete the diary. But they told me to leave it up. My cousin came over to my place to help me write this and keep me calm. If people want to tear the story apart before I can put it all together. Then fine, do so. Believe the story or not. It's my life anyway. I guess I have learned the other side of a diary, it can cut you down too. I will reconsider if I want to post in the future if this is what I have to go through. For those of you that still like the story, again thank you, but now I am in real limbo here about going forward. -Adam