A call, a telephone call is actually an everyday affair. We do it every day, everyone does it. But sometimes a call is not just a call but a step as through a transparent wall into the center of another human life; backwards into history. And all of a sudden one is a aware: it is not finished, the story! She is still alive, is present. The heart of the story is still beating in the breast of many survivors and it is beating full of suffering.
All is coming back
A call to the USA is enough. At the other end of the line there is Vera N., which is familiar and that Vera was born in 1925. Quickly the handset is lifted, a fragile voice answers and it takes some time for Vera to understand why she is being called. It is about original possession of her aunt Klara from an East-German city. The first names of the family and the name of the city are hardly mentioned, when Vera N. sobs on the other side of the pond in the handset: “All is coming back”
She can no longer hold in her grief, that floods through the line to the caller from Europe like a historical tsunami: Germany, Childhood, Jewish Culture, Nazi pogroms, synagogue, Kristallnacht, Kindertransport, Gestapo, concentration camps, Yellow Star, parents in Auschwitz, death march. Alone.
She asks, “You are jewish, jewish German or German German?” Her voice sounds like that of a child. She uses simple words and is thus expressing the pain, that still hurts inside of her.
“I can not get over!” she says several times. “How can I get over!”, She does not ask but states for all those who have survived the Holocaust. Yes, how can you get over it?
She has lost all. “Everyone in my family was gassed -. Just me and my 3 cousins survived”
Then she says that her mother has died on a death march, her father previously shot in the street “he was on his way to work” and the rest of her family: grandmother, grandfather, brothers and sisters of the mother, brothers and sisters of the father were gassed in Auschwitz. This is what she assumes, anyway. “From most of them I do not know their Destiny.”
And again she says she does not get over it and that she has been told all her life that she should get over: “Get over, get over But I can`t..”
The caller from Europe wants to cry but can not. Should not. Weeping over the suffering compels the other one who has suffered not to feel. Suffering is only a kind of reassurance when suffering actually may happen.
In Vera her memory has just set in motion – it looks as if it dives back into what had determined her life. She speaks because of her excitement like a typist writes and still it is clear what she’s talking about: She has received compensation of Germany: $ 1000 because she was a child on a children’s transport, $ 5000 for so-called training failure and $ 1500 for the death of her mother.
“Is this compensation to get $ 1,500 for a mother?”
Then she turns silent and the caller is silent, too. Vera is crying softly. “How could I get over!”