Tuesday July 7, 2020
SNc Channels:

About Salem-News.com


May-13-2010 03:09printcomments

A Reflective Voice

I am honored to have walked and listened. Mine is the last generation to physically hear a Holocaust survivor speak.

Holocaust Museum in Portland, Oregon
Photos by Alysha Atma for Salem-News.com

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - On Tuesday I had the distinct opportunity to cover a Clackamas High School Field trip. Mr. Rob Hadley the Genocide Studies teacher took his ninth graders first, on a tour of the Holocaust Memorial, and then listen to a survivor tell her story.

The students were given an opportunity to listen, feel and reflect on the experience and strength of those that survived the Holocaust, in hope of inspiring action and a voice against atrocities of this kind now, and in the future.

One student asked “Do you wish for revenge?”

“I am living my revenge, I survived, I lived. I stand here and tell hundreds of people the story that we never forget. I have raised children and grandchildren I have a wonderful life. I lived, that is my revenge”.

Beginning the journey through the memorial, it is quiet and serene; the birds are chirping, squirrels playing, a very comforting place. Upon entering the memorial, the “town square” is marked with a 1930’s lamppost; immediately what first appear to be rocks are actually personal objects, pieces of the lives of those that survived this act of violence.

Photos by Alysha Atma Salem-News.com

A baby doll, menorah, glasses, a violin, a book and a large suitcase are scattered around this path. The sense is that people left town in a great hurry dropping things along the way; then the wall comes into focus down a long path that appears to be train tracks.

The Final Solution could not have happened without the railways, without the trains making the mass transport possible.

About 10,000 had been loaded into cattle cars, the floors of which were spread with deadly quicklime, bound - we found out later - for Auschwitz. The burning heat and poisonous fumes of the lime left only 400 of them alive when they reached their destination ... [1]

Six Million Jews perished; approximately 67 percent of the European Jewish population. Five Million non-Jews were murdered; the Holocaust affected many other groups of people Gypsies, Poles, Homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Handicapped and those with different Political beliefs. Of the eleven million people, 1.5 million were children.

When coming up to the wall both ends have very profound statements.

On the right is a “book” a thoughtful symbol as the Jewish community treasures education, the arts and history, something that Hitler’s regime preyed upon. The book holds two panels referencing the history of the Holocaust, lest we never forget how it was allowed to begin or continue for many years.

Photos by Alysha Atma for Salem-News.com

On the left is a memorial within a memorial; under the rock holds the soil and ashes from the six major camps.

“Beneath this rock are interred soil and ash from the six killing-center camps of the Holocaust: Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, Majdanek, Auchwitz-Birkenau.”

Millions of people died in the camps due to starvation, disease and exhaustion. This rock represents a place for Holocaust survivors in Oregon and Washington to come and honor their family members and realize their personal strength. Although having the soil there serves as a powerful symbol where many died; there are still many left without a marker that perished along the journey, and for many there is no final resting place.

Looking forward at the memorial is the witness wall, where many quotes are rooted as collected from the survivors. These memories are a chance for the survivors and their families to share his or her connection with the past but also to help those that come to visit and learn; an opportunity to personally connect and feel.

In 1998, at the risk of great emotional cost, some of the survivors returned to the place where they witnessed and lost so much in an effort to bring that connection forward to this memorial.

Photos by Alysha Atma for Salem-News.com

The back of the wall is dedicated to the names of those who perished and the names of their surviving relatives here in Oregon and SW Washington. Remembrance of the few is only a shadow of the many, for every name that is known there are thousands that will remain lost.

The emotional connection is very real no matter your race, nationality or religion. When reading these names the emotion is reflected back, your eyes, and the names intermingle through your reflection against the memorial’s black wall.

“First they came for the Communists but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists but I was not one of them, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews but I was not Jewish so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was Protestant. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me”. Martin Niemoeller, Holocaust Survivor, said.

I am honored to have walked and listened. Mine is the last generation to physically hear a Holocaust survivor speak. There is a responsibility that comes with information. You are now marked; you can never walk away and say, I didn’t know. We must speak out against atrocities; if we do not, how can we expect others to speak out for us?

[1] aish.com/ho/o/48970811.html


Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: alyshann78@comcast.net

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Anonymous May 21, 2010 11:55 pm (Pacific time)

Jerry Jones, Your statistics concerning Jehovah's Witnesses and the holocaust are way off.
There were Jewish Jehovah's Witnesses and they spoke out against their persecution in their literature in German and English and on radio broadcasts in the United States.
 There were also Jews that became Witnesses in the concentration camp.
 See Crucible of Terror A Story of One Man's Survival through the Nazi Storm by Max Liebster.

Natalie May 15, 2010 1:15 am (Pacific time)

If "moving on" means not to take young Jews to Holocaust Memorials, then I, honestly, don't get it. I always thought that any memorial is about paying respect, compassion, encouraging to look for ways to have a better life. If somebody after watching WW2, Holocaust, or even "Passion of the Christ" movie feels like killing for revenge, he/she should definitely seek a serious psychiatric help and stick with "Tom and Jerry (B. Spears and A. Lambert for the advanced) culture" meanwhile. I do sob while watching "the Passion", and I do take my kids to the funerals. They should learn that life is not a video game where you can have a dead character, hit "new game", and here he goes again, very much alive and healthy. I don't consider it a trauma for the kids. It's the reality of life, and they should be ready when the time comes.

Natalie May 14, 2010 11:27 pm (Pacific time)

Should I repost?

Editor: Yes!

gp May 13, 2010 11:21 am (Pacific time)

Read "The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise From Its Ashes.  Avrahm Burg a former Knesset member and son of Holocaust victims gives an eloquent argument on why the memorializing and indoctrination  of young Jews in Israel about the Holocaust inhibits Israel from  moving on to become a nation that is no longer a victim and  becoming a nation that will stop victimizing others.  Of course the Wisenthall types call him a self hating Jew.

Daniel May 13, 2010 4:14 pm (Pacific time)

Jerry this is a story about the Holocaust victims not about JW victims only . You can get on a moral high horse and pick apart all of the mentioned groups but that does not make them less of a victim ! Nor does any perceived short coming of each group justify the actions taken by the Nazis . A version of the Holocaust continues today in Africa, Asia ,China and thru out the 3rd world .

Alysha Atma May 13, 2010 8:37 am (Pacific time)

The last thing that you read while visiting is this... Our precious life rests not on ability to see what makes us different, one from another, but rather on our ability to recognize what makes us the same. What ultimately defines us is the moral strength to believe in our common humanity, and to act on this belief.

Alysha Atma May 13, 2010 8:27 am (Pacific time)

Jerry, I am sadly, disappointed that you cannot honor any group that died as a result of pure hatred. It is beautiful to see that the Memorial here in Portland does not agree or discriminate; the wall has honored every group. Discrimination leads to indifference and once there it is easy to dehumanize and begin to rationalize and justify any kind of atrocity.

Jerry Jones May 13, 2010 4:54 am (Pacific time)

It is an insult to memorialize the handful of anti-societal trouble-seeking Jehovah's Witnesses alongside the SIX MILLION Jewish Holocaust victims given that Jehovah's Witnesses view the Jews much as did the Nazis. The WatchTower Cult teaches its own version of "replacement theology", which says that GOD rejected the Jews as His "chosen people", and replaced them with today's "Jehovah's Witnesses". In fact, the title "Jehovah's Witnesses" was originally applied to the Jews by the Prophet Isaiah, and is even quoted on the wall at the entrance to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. The WatchTower Society, in calling its own members "Jehovah's Witnesses" is attempting to steal that designation away from the Jews. The WatchTower Cult even teaches that all of the Bible's promises of restoration for the Jewish people now belongs to the followers of the Cult. There were only approximately 6000 Jehovah's Witnesses in Germany during the 1930s-40s. While many of those 6000 German JWs were repeatedly arrested during the 1930s and 1940s, only a fraction were jailed or imprisoned for any significant length of time. Only about 200-300 German JWs lost their lives, and the majority of those died from any number of causes other than having been executed. Approximately 1000 JWs from other European countries lost their lives while incarcerated by the Nazis. During that same time period, there were more Jehovah's Witnesses arrested and jailed in the United States than in Germany. In fact, from 1941 until 1945, approximately 4500 American Jehovah's Witnesses "elected" to go to prison rather than serve in the U.S. Military and go fight against those same Nazis who were committing those atrocities. Approximately 3000 of those 4500 American JWs were even offered "conscientious objector" status, in which they were offered "non-combatant" work as a substitute, but 99% of those JWs refused to even help that much. It is a further insult to SINGLE OUT for memorialization the handful of Jehovah's Witnesses alongside the FIVE MILLION Non-Jewish Holocaust victims given that Jehovah's Witnesses view some of those fellow victims (Homosexuals, Gypsies, etc. ) much as did the Nazis.

[Return to Top]
©2020 Salem-News.com. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Salem-News.com.

Articles for May 12, 2010 | Articles for May 13, 2010 | Articles for May 14, 2010
Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

Tribute to Palestine and to the incredible courage, determination and struggle of the Palestinian People. ~Dom Martin

Special Section: Truth telling news about marijuana related issues and events.

Donate to Salem-News.com and help us keep the news flowing! Thank you.

Annual Hemp Festival & Event Calendar