A son wants to commemorate his mother and her life. Well, you might think, this is what people usually do on Mother’s Day. Right. But today was a very special Mother’s Day for a dear friend.
My friend never got to know his mother or anyone else of his family as his mother and his grandfather were deported in June 1942 from Vienna to Mali Trostenec. This son, I’m talking of, was 6 months old then. So he never got a chance to get to know his mother well enough to create memories or even glimpses of memories of her. His mother as well as his grandfather lost their lifes in Mali Trostenec as they were killed by the Nazi Regime, they were shot in the woods of Mali Trostenec, only their ashes remained there….
The 6 month old son was deported to Theresienstadt, where he was able to survive and then after the war he was brought to England. The son came to an orphanage and got adopted there and always thought to be British unto the age of nineteen, when he wanted do marry his lovely wife. As he had to prepare documents for the wedding a shocking truth unveiled. All of a sudden he lost what he always thought to be his identity. He was not English but Austrian. He had not been born in Britain but in Vienna, he had not been given the name, he had been used to for so long but he had been given another name long ago in a totally different world.
So many questions arose where no answers were given and never will be given as his mother and grandfather and the rest of the family have been annihilated. A life full of searching started and this searching of identity and meaning led to a very special moment this morning.
In the second district of Vienna, the so called „Leopoldstadt“, the jewish quarter of Vienna, gathered people this morning to hold a ceremony of remembrance. People, who have also lost family members in the Shoa and who wanted to commemorate them. They assembled for a ceremony that is called „Stones of Remembrance“. Little metal plates, engraved with the names and dates of people, deported and murdered by the Nazi regime, are put in front of their last adresses in Vienna. Everyone who wants to read those plates has to bow down. So finally those people, who suffered what we cannot even find words for, get a place, get back a name and will never be forgotten.
I had the honour to be amongst the people who gathered this morning. The son, who has come to have a stone, a plate for his mother and grandfather, is a dear friend. It moved me to tears, listening to the words he spoke and the pain and grief he shared with us during that speech. What precious gift it is, when people do not only share the happy times but also the moving or sad ones. After the ceremony we walked on to his mothers and grandfathers last adress in Vienna. Flowers were laid down at the Stones of Remembrance and finally the moment had come, where Kaddish was said.
Elsa, I’m sure today was a special Mother’s Day for you. From wherever you were watching today, I’m more than sure that you are proud of your son. Proud of his strength and proud of everything he became. One of the dearest people I know.
N.B For all who wonder why I have chosen to write this blog entry in English – it might well be that the Son comes across this entry and in respect of our friendship I want to make sure that he will be able to understand, what I’ve written down.