What it’s Like to be a Descendant of a Holocaust Survivor

What it’s Like to be a Descendant of a Holocaust Survivor

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ETHAN Willinger GRADE 7

Have any of you ever wondered what it was like to be a descendant of a Holocaust survivor? Last summer, my father and I took a trip to Prague to spend time together and see some history. While we were there, we visited a concentration camp called Theresienstadt. Throughout my life, I always heard stories about the Holocaust and all the horrible things that happened during that time - not only to Jews, but millions of others as well. After seeing this camp and learning the conditions and problems that people who were placed there had to go through, I now understand how much more grateful I should be that my grandfather was being watched over and was protected by God.

My Opa, Gershon Willinger, has a remarkable story. He was one out of 150 children to survive the Holocaust. I have learned so many life lessons from my Opa. Hearing his story has made me grateful and blessed for the life that I have. One thing that my grandfather always tells me and the rest of his grandchildren is to never leave food on our plates. This is because he knows what it’s like to not have any. Another life lesson is to always see the good in others. Even if they make a bad choice, that does not mean they are a bad person.

My grandfather was very young during the war so he was not put to labour, but he lost almost all his family. The people he didn’t lose he only discovered later on in life.

I can’t even begin to imagine going through life without my family. If it wasn’t for my grandfather none of my family would be here today. Every Shabbat my grandfather and my grandmother come over for dinner. This is so special to me because I love seeing them, telling jokes, laughing and hearing their stories. One day I hope to go on March of the Living as three generations of a survivor - me, my father and my grandfather. I think this would be such an amazing experience for us all to share and an easier way for me to better understand and connect to what my grandfather had to go through.

This year I am having my bar mitzvah in Israel and I’m so excited. My grandfather is a huge influence in helping me become the person I am today. I can’t wait to experience this important milestone in my life with him by my side in our homeland, a land that he fought for as an Israeli soldier

I am so grateful that I have my grandfather in my life. He is such an inspiration to me and everyone he meets. It is crazy to think that someone who has gone through something this horrible and traumatizing could still have such a positive and optimistic outlook towards life. He is so strong because of what he had to go through and that makes me so proud. I hope to one day grow up and be at least half the man my grandfather is today.



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