[Illan Ramon's Auschwitz Survivor Mother]
by Solly Ganor
I don't think that there was a person in Israel that didn't watch the blasting off of the Space Shuttle Columbia from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, yesterday.

We watched with trepidation and anxiety, but above all pride, as the graceful white shuttle lifted off into the blue Florida sky, trailing a white plume behind it.  For us Israelis, it was a special flight, because our own astronaut, Colonel Illan Ramon was the first Israeli to enter space.

For a short while we allowed ourselves to forget our problems, our differences, even the coming elections, and were united in hailing Colonel Illan Ramon as our hero.

But for me, there was another hero:  someone that was hardly mentioned in the Israeli media.  If it weren't for an American TV station, which briefly stated that Colonel Illan Ramon's mother was an Auschwitz survivor, I too would have been ignorant of the fact.

Most of us who weren't there, the fact that his mother was a Holocaust survivor from Auschwitz, would be baffled why I would call her a hero.

I will tell you why.

After the collapse of Hitler's Right and our liberation in the beginning of May, 1945, I served in the U.S. Army as an interpreter.
I was fortunate enough to have learned English during the war, a language that very few survivors spoke.

I served in a unit that was attached to the CIC, (Army Intelligence).  We were eleven men, all of them, besides myself, American service men, who knew a second language besides their native English.  Our job was to find Nazis and SS men hiding among the displaced persons in the DP camp all over the American Zone of occupation.

However, we also visited camps where only Jews lived, such as Feldafing Fherenwald and more.  For a while I was the
interpreter for a Colonel Woodhouse, who for some reason was attached to our unit.  Colonel Woodhouse was an English Psychiatrist who was sent to evaluate the mental state of the Jewish concentration camp survivors.

I will never forget his official evalutation.  He didn't keep it a secret and I was able to read it.  "I came to the conclusion that the trauma caused to Jewish inmates of concentration camps was unprecedented in its severity and that they would never be able to live normal lives, get married and have children.  I have know patients who were subjected to traumas that weren't even a
fraction of the trauma the Jews were subjected to and they were psychologically disabled for life.  Therefore, I see no hope for them."

Well, Colonel Woodhouse,  allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Ramon, a Auschwitz survivor, who not only got married and brought children to this world, but brought up a son that anyone in the world would be proud of to call as his own, despite your prognosis.

Perhaps, from the medical point of view he was right, but he didn't count on the spirit of the survivors.  When we were liberated we stood before the world almost naked, bereft of all possessions, clad in a prisoner's stripped uniform and wooden clogs.  We owned nothing, not even underwear, socks or a hankerchief.  We were thin like skeletons, all skin and bones.  My schooling was interrupted when I was twelve, and I was subjected to brutalities that mankind has never known.  I was liberated from the Nazis, but what next?  So I stood before a world, I considered hostile, age seventeen, and I had to make my way through it.  And yet I
did it and I did it well.

I don't know Mrs. Ramon, but today when I watched her son take off into space, I am sure that she did more than well. 
Therefore, Mrs. Ramon, I salute you.  You too are my hero.

I only have one regret, Mrs. Ramon, that the State of Israel wasn't established ten years earlier, in 1938.  Most likely the Holocaust wouldn't have taken place and you would have been spared from going through the abyss of evil called Auschwitz. 
And imagine how many Illans the six million who perished could have sired.

Solly Ganor,
Herzelia Pituach, Israel
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis
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