17th Annual Holocaust Writing & Visual Art Competition for Students
2018 Topic: Reunions
This competition is made possible through the generosity of The Sarfan/Gary S.and William M. Nachman Philanthropic Fund of the UJC Endowment Fund.
Rachel couldn’t help herself; it was automatic now. For over 60 years she had been searchingfor anyone-family, friends, neighbors-using all the means at her disposal at the time: Lists from DP camps, the Red Cross, Yad Vashem and many others; her granddaughter had even gone online—all dead ends. She could not believe that everyone dear to her had perished duringthe Holocaust.
Hadn’t she survived? Surely there must be someone else.
So now she found herself looking at bare arms for the telltale numbers everywhere she went. Whenever she encountered a person with numbers on the arm, she approached them hopefully; trading backgrounds, names, stories-often tearfully. She found no one from her past.
Now standing in line in the coffee shop, her eyes automatically drifted toward the arms of the customers in front of her. There it was-one bare arm with the dreaded tattoo on a woman about her age. As the barista said,”Here’s your coffee, Marta,” and as the woman turned toward her, Rachel’s heart leapt with hope. Could it be her old friend from childhood with whom she had shared such joy as children and such terror and sorrow in the concentration camps? Something about the eyes and the set of the chin. That’s when she knew…
Since 1945 Holocaust survivors and their families continue to search for news of family and friends who also might have survived this horrific, tragic event. They are also looking for closure somethingthat documents the death of their loved ones. Despite the intervening years, there remains a void in the lives of the survivors and many never give up the search. In most cases this is a lengthy and complex procedure-often yielding no results.
However, there are many documented cases where family members have been reunited culminating in emotional reunions between siblings, friends, descendant family members and even between a liberator and a concentration camp survivor.