Looking back to a few weeks ago, one thing still stands out to me after hearing Auschwitz survivor, Noemi Ban, tell her story. Her focus on the idea of freedom and the complacency that some people of my generation have come to associate with the word. What do we know of true freedom, the idea of being free just is hard for us to comprehend. We have grown up around the ideas of freedom, the ability to drink clean water, to eat substantive food, to speak what language we choose to speak, and what I think is the most important, the ability to think and speak one’s mind without legal repercussion. Noemi felt the lack of freedom and when she gained it she never took it for granted. Her focus on the refreshing hold of water is fascinating as it is water. I complain about water quality when I can taste even a little bit of mineral taste. Noemi focused on the freedom of being able to not only drink water but have water. I feel like I appreciate my freedom, but here I am dehydrated with an empty water bottle next to me.
They way Noemi speaks about her family is beautiful. She speaks so gently about them and remembers so much about how they were and the characteristics that matched them. Her grandmother struck me as the most interesting person who wished to keep part of her life, the candlestick. That candlestick represented their prior sense of freedom before the rule of the Nazis. A single item that reminded them of what they had before only for it to be what could kill all of them just for that little taste of freedom.
The most important part of Noemi’s speech is her response to the perpetrators. Not Germans, but rather calling them Nazis. Not every German was a perpetrator of the Holocaust, but every Nazi was. I think this is useful when finding a hardcore definitions bout the perpetrators because how should we lump in the Poles, Hungarians, Ukrainians, etc. into the group of perpetrators that helped to advance the Holocaust. They can all be Nazis which gives a name and an identity to all of the perpetrators despite their background.
The experience of hearing a survivor talk is one I will never forget and one I will never wish to forget. Noemi’s story is one that is not only fascinating, but unique in her own reflections of the events of the Holocaust.
This week I listened to Béla Bartók a Hungarian composer. His work helped me write this and the playing of the linked Romanian folk music is wonderful.