Joshua Bram 8th Grade Park Forest Middle School Teacher: Mrs. McKee
I must remember the Holocaust because over half of my family was exterminated in the years from 1939 to 1944. I am a child of the 21st century, but the black spider is ever present in my life. My family was a victim of the largest acts of genocide recorded in human history. My father, distant cousins, and I are all that remain of what was once a large family. The only reason I am alive today is because my great-grandfather and two of his siblings came to America in the early 20th century in search of a better life, while five siblings stayed in Poland.
My great-great-uncle and his entire family were torn apart and obliterated by Hitler and his followers. My father remembers as a child that his father would never buy or use anything that was made in or was from Germany. This is the mark that has been branded into my family for all eternity.
Throughout the late 1920s and 30s, my great-grandfather and two of his siblings left Poland. Three came to America (my great-grandfather named Yistchok, my great-great-uncle named Moshe, and my great-great-aunt named Alta). Another sibling named Tszi moved to Israel. The three who came to America came through Ellis Island. They pronounced their name in a way that made the people who worked there record it as Bram instead of Brom.
Of the remaining four siblings, two named Yankel and Yablonka were killed in the Holocaust, and the other two were most likely killed as well. They lived in a rural area of Poland called Lomza, located in the northeast portion of Poland. Lomza was about 85 miles from a concentration camp known as Treblinka. The ones who weren’t shot immediately were most likely taken to Treblinka or Auschwitz and forced to survive the meager meals, horrible labor conditions and appalling accommodations.
All of the siblings are sons and daughters of Lib Brom and his wife. Yankel had 10 children. Three of them moved to Paraguay in the 1930’s to escape the oncoming threats from Hitler and Nazi Germany. Among these was a son named Hershel. Hershel left his wife and two children in Poland, and they were going to join him in 1941. They never had the opportunity.
Yankel’s other children were named Sonia, David, Breina, Moshe, Waichi, and Esther. Breina and Waichi were married and Waichi had two children. Out of all of these people, only Sonia and Esther would live to be liberated. Out of the fifteen members of Yankel’s immediate family who remained in Poland, two survived.
It is likely that all of them were taken to Treblinka after they were captured in 1942. Many people who lived in Lomza were also just taken into the woods and shot. This may have been the fate for some of my family.
After a Jewish revolt in 1943, Treblinka was shut down and the prisoners were moved to Auschwitz. This is where Sonia and Esther were liberated when they were 18 and 17 respectively. They were then taken into protection by the United States. After they told the U.S. officials of their family in Paraguay, they were flown there. Esther is still alive today, but all attempted contact has failed.
Although not much is known about two of Yankel’s siblings, we do know that one of them, a brother, had a son. Although the brother probably died, his son escaped Poland and joined the Russian army. He survived the war and married a Russian woman. My family in Paraguay asked him to move to Paraguay, but he refused. Nothing about the other sister has been recorded, and her legacy as a person was lost during the Holocaust, because it is likely that she died in the years from 1942 to 1944.
I am the great-great-grandson of Lib Brom. Yankel is my great-great uncle, and all of his children are my cousins. Well, they were my cousins. I must remember what happened to my family throughout the course of the Holocaust and all of the atrocities that they endured. I must remember their suffering and their hope that one day, they would be liberated. The family that I don’t have, but that could have existed, must be thought of. All that has affected my family throughout the last century must be known and spread throughout the world so that such colossal atrocities will never be committed again.