Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Story: Hope in Auschwitz
Rabbi Hugo Gryn. Hugo Gryn (1930-1996), was a Holocaust survivor, a community
leader, educator and broadcaster for the BBC, was born in Berehovo,
Czechoslovakia in a home filled with great warmth.
Hugo Gryn was 13 years old when he, among 10,000 Jews confined to the
Berehovo ghetto in April 1944. All were sent to Auschwitz on May 28, 1944.
He and his father were sent to work; his brother and grandfather were sent to the
Hugo Gryn and his father, together with 2,600 Jews were later sent to the death
march from the Lieberose camp to Mauthausen. Less than a thousand survived that
march. Hugo was freed in on May 4, 1945, but his father died a few days later from
typhus and exhaustion.
Rabbi Gryn once related: When I was a young boy my family was sent to Auschwitz. For a while my father and I shared a barrack.
In spite of the unspeakable horror, oppression and hardship, many Jews held onto
what scraps of Jewish religious observance as they were able.
One midwinter evening one of the inmates reminded us that tonight was the first
night of Chanukah, the festival of lights. My father constructed a little Chanukah
menorah out of scrap metal. For a wick, he took some threads from his prison
For oil, he used some butter that he somehow obtained from a guard.
Such observances were strictly “verboten,” but we were used to taking risks.
Rather, I protested at the “waste” of precious calories. Would it not be better to
share the butter on a crust of bread than burn it?
“Hugo,” said my father, “both you and I know that a person can live a very long time
without food. But Hugo, I tell you, a person cannot live a single day without hope.
This Menorah is the fire of hope. Never let it go out. Not here. Not anywhere.
Remember that Hugo.”