Am I part of the next generation of Holocaust survivors? Both my parents were born in America, and my mother’s parents were born in America. But there is more to my immigrant story.
My father’s parents were born in the town of Gomel, in what is today the country of Belarus. Joe Rimerman, my grandfather, emigrated to this country in the early 1900s, followed by my grandmother Ida. They made their home first in New York, then traveled by car with four children and the youngest on the way (that would be my father) to Los Angeles. Contact with family back in Gomel eventually dwindled and it was assumed most of them perished during the Holocaust. In fact, there are very few people in this country with the name “Rimerman” and until recently, I wasn’t sure how many of us there ever were.
Last summer, my husband and I traveled to Poland as part of a Heritage trip with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The mission was to trace the steps of my father-in-law, Peretz Dab, and to learn the fate of those we were certain were lost during the Shoah. We visited the Warsaw Ghetto, Treblinka, the Jewish Cemetery and many other sites. Among them, Auschwitz, one of the most notorious of the concentration camps.
Auschwitz stands today as a museum and a memorial to those who died there. Towards the end of the tour we visited Cell Block 10, currently the Museum of the Jews Who Died in Auschwitz. Inside are displays of what Jewish life was like before the Shoah, vibrant and thriving. There are displays of shoes, clothes, suitcases and human hair that illustrates the devastating loss of life. The final room is filled front to back with a book perhaps four to five feet high, with pages and pages of the names of those who died in Auschwitz. As expected, we found the page with the names of the Dab family members from the town of Gleiwicz among others. On a whim, I wandered over to the “R” listings to see if by chance there were any Rimermans listed. I leafed through the massive pages and there it was! A page filled top to bottom with Rimermans! I was overcome with emotion as I hadn’t really expected to see my family name associated with the Holocaust, and certainly never in Auschwitz. But there it was!
So, am I the child of survivors? Well, I guess not directly as is my husband. But I believe that as Jews, we are all survivors together. We all bear witness to our collective history. We all carry the responsibility to ensure the world never forgets. We are all the next generation.
Are you, or someone you know, the child of survivors of the Shoah? If you would like to tell your story, comment here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. And sign up to receive updates to this site.