Tonight begins the observance of Yom Ha'Shoa, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Max & Roza Schwartz, Holocaust survivors. My grandparents.
Max Schwartz (Mosche Mechel Swarc) Feb. 21, 1912- August 2, 1979 from Wyszogrod Poland. Max (Mosche) was the oldest of seven. Max’s family was separated and never reunited; dying in #Auschwitz and other camps. Max was the only survivor from his family.
Roza Schwartz (Ruszka Drytter) August 30, 1922 or 1925-October 22, 2010 from Warsaw, Poland. Roza (Ruszka) was the third of six children. Roza was the only survivor from her family. Her family is presumed to have died in #Auschwitz, the Warsaw ghetto and other camps.
Roza and Max’s memories of their time during WWII were painful, brutal and inhumane. They rarely spoke of their experiences running from the Nazis, imprisonment or their time in slave labor camps. Instead they spoke of their brothers, sisters and parents who they loved, missed and longed to see again. They were both from large, close, loving Jewish families. They were each their family’s sole survivor.
Max and Roza met in Krigz Republic, USSR during World War II. On June 3, 1946 while fleeing westward on a train with other war refugees Roza gave birth to their first son, Harri. Roza and Harri were briefly separated from Max as part of a negotiation where he had to stay behind and help smuggle others out of the Soviet Union. Smuggling a newborn could compromise the safety of the other refugees however they allowed Roza to continue onward under the condition that Max would stay behind. Months later they were reunited through a tiny piece of paper pinned to a community message board.
From there they made their way to a displaced persons camp in Heidenheim, Germany. Five years later they immigrated to the United States traveling on an erstwhile troop transport ship, the General Howze from Bremerhaven to New York. Through the sponsorship of the Jewish Federation they settled in Roselle and then in Colonia, New Jersey. They had two more sons, Robert and Jeffrey.
Max and Roza rebuilt their lives in the United States and were devoted to their three sons, Harri, Robert and Jeffrey. Their profound loss and their devastating tragedies from times past were rarely shared. Instead they preferred to channel their energy and love into the future for their children. Roza and Max comforted their painful losses by infusing their boys with boundless love, pride and laughter. They were dedicated to raising them with a love of Jewish culture and traditions.
Tonight, May 4, 2016 we will light a candle in memory of all the lives that were lost in the Holocaust. We cannot erase, ignore or deny this hideous part of history but what we can do is stand up to intolerance, hatred and abuse of power. We can share these stories and encourage everyone share them with their children, grandchildren and generations to come. We can encourage our educational institutions to mandate the teaching of the holocaust into their curriculums. And We can channel the courage and bravery of survivors to continue to speak out against corruption and social movements seeking irrational compliance and conformity. We can and must remember the results of abuse of power and #NeverForget the tragedies of the Holocaust.
Today the legacy of Max and Roza legacy lives on through their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Harri Schwartz, Robert Schwartz, Jeffery Schwartz, Barbara (Schwartz) Majeski, Ben Schwartz, Steven Schwartz, Michael Schwartz, Eric Schwartz, Rachel (Schwartz) Satz, Gabe Majeski, Max Majeski, Harper Schwartz, Milena Rose Majeski, Cora Rose Schwartz, Matthew Schwartz & Violet Eden Schwartz are we are all proud to inherit the bloodline of these heroic survivors.