Unanswered Questions

This is Margarita. I’ve been bothered lately by questions that I haven’t asked. Like, I don’t know how my parents met. I don’t know that much about… I know some stuff about their life in the Holocaust, but not enough. And there’s no one left to ask anymore. And it’s really very, very sad for me that I didn’t start earlier. And suddenly now, at this stage of my life, I need to know things that I can’t answer any longer. 

Like, my parents came from Germany. They got married November 8th, which was Kristallnacht, which is the night where the Nazis broke all the glass windows in the synagogues and in the stores owned by Jews. And my father, my uncle and my grandfather were picked up to be taken to concentration camps.

At that time, they still had this thing that if you were above a certain age, they let you go, and they said it. The age of my grandfather was older than that, but he was deaf, so he didn’t hear that he could get off the truck. So my father and my uncle pushed him off the truck, so that he should go home. And then he was in Auschwitz. They were in Auschwitz for a month. And after that their immigration papers came from Argentina, so they still let them out. 

My mother used to tell how they packed stuff and they weren’t allowed to bring any silverware or anything of value. And that my aunt, who at the time was 16 years old, had taken some silverware and stuffed it somewhere in the things that were supposed to be sent to Argentina. And my mother was always in fear that if they found it, they would all be penalized and not let out. But that wasn’t found. I don’t know exactly what it was that she packed. And I can’t ask her anymore because she also passed away about five years ago. 

And my advice in this is: try to investigate your family when people are around, and not wondering years later when they’re gone. Like, I had my mother with me for 15 years. I could have asked all these questions. 

For some reason, my grandmother, who lost a son and a daughter-in-law and brothers, she never really talked about it. She would tell me stories about her house in Germany. And at one time, my family and I went to see the house. But when the guy that lives there saw us coming, he ran into the house and he wouldn’t let us in. But we went to the village where they came from, and there was a castle that was on a little mountain and that I had grown up with seeing, because they had a postcard with the castle. So we finally saw this little castle. 

I was always amazed at my grandmother, all that she had gone through because she was a widow and she had three children. My grandmother was pregnant with my mother when her husband died. My mother never knew her father. He died of appendicitis, I think, or pneumonia, something, it was before antibiotics. 

I’m still left with questions, but now I don’t know how to get answers, too, because there’s no one left.